There are a number of possible causes for NTLDR errors, including the most common “NTLDR is missing” issue.
The most common reason is when your computer is trying to boot from a hard drive or flash drive that isn’t properly configured to be booted from. In other words, it’s trying to boot from a non-bootable source. This also would apply to media on an optical drive or floppy drive that you’re trying to boot from.
Other possible causes include corrupt and misconfigured files, hard drive and operating system upgrade issues, corrupt hard drive sectors, an outdated BIOS, and damaged or loose IDE cables.
There are a few ways that the error may present itself, with this first one being the most common:
NTLDR is missing
Press any key to restart
NTLDR is missing
Press Ctrl Alt Del to restart
Boot: Couldn’t find NTLDR
Please insert another disk
The error message displays very shortly after the computer is first started, immediately after the Power On Self Test (POST) is complete, when Windows XP has only initially begun to load.
How to Fix ‘NTLDR Is Missing’ Errors
Restart your computer. The error could be a fluke.
Check your floppy and optical (CD/DVD/BD) drives for media and disconnect any external drives. Oftentimes, the “NTLDR is missing” error will appear if your computer is trying to boot to a non-bootable floppy disk, CD/DVD/BD, external hard drive, or flash drive.
Check the hard drive and other drive settings in BIOS and ensure they’re correct. The BIOS configuration tells the computer how to use a drive, so incorrect settings can cause problems, including these errors.
Restore the NTLDR and ntdetect.com files from the Windows XP CD. Restoring these two important system files from the original Windows XP CD may do the trick.
Repair or replace the boot.ini file. This will prevent the NTLDR error if the cause of the problem is a boot.ini file that isn’t configured properly for your Windows XP installation.
Write a new partition boot sector to the Windows XP system partition. If the partition boot sector has become corrupt or isn’t properly configured, you might receive the error.
Repair the Windows XP master boot record. NTLDR error messages may also appear if the master boot record is corrupt.
Reseat all internal data and power cables. The error messages could be caused by loose or malfunctioning IDE cables. Try replacing the IDE cable if you suspect it might be faulty.
Update your motherboard’s BIOS. Occasionally, an outdated BIOS version can cause the error.
Perform a repair installation of Windows XP. This type of installation should replace any missing or corrupt files. Continue troubleshooting if this doesn’t resolve the issue.
Perform a clean installation of Windows XP. This type of installation will completely remove Windows XP from your computer and install it again from scratch.
Replace the hard drive and then perform a new installation of Windows XP. If all else has failed, including the clean installation from the last step, you’re most likely facing a hardware issue with your hard drive.
Need More Help?
If you’re not interested in fixing this problem yourself, see How Do I Get My Computer Fixed? for a full list of your support options, plus help with everything along the way like figuring out repair costs, getting your files off, choosing a repair service, and a whole lot more.