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Win2000 Ntldr Is Missing

NTLDR is missing
Press any key to restart

Your system is running Windows 2000 or WinXP on a FAT 32 Partition

This is a rough draft. Rename Ultra.sys to Ntbootdd.sys for Promise ATA/100 Controller.

As one User recently pointed out, "Make sure there is no floppy in the floppy drive if your system is set to boot from a floppy!"

Problem: If the active partition does not contain the Windows boot files (ntldr, NTDETECT.COM & boot.ini) or boot files for another operating system (Win98SE on FAT32 active partition), your system will not boot but instead be caught in an endless repetitive loop. HD is probably OK but the O/S may have lost it's Boot Partition Files. If you have seen this statement above when boot your Win2000 Workstation.

These files are on your Win2000 CD which is a Bootable CD. Boot your system with the Win2000 CD. Copy those files to a floppy, then boot the floppy. If that fails, read on.

How to Create a Bootable Disk for an NTFS or FAT Partition ***

Rename Ntldr to Setupldr.bin.

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Documentation

Changing Active Partition Can Make Your System Unbootable

Differences Between Manual and Fast Repair in Windows ***

When was the last time you checked to make sure your Windows 2000 ERD worked? Then how do you know it will work? For that matter, did the Recovery Console leave you in the lurch? Not ready to shell out $400.00 for an ERD Utility? Did your Setup Disks also leave you asking why, what happened? After having spent 6 hours piddling with this, we hope these notes will help save you some time and grief.

Using a Win98SE Boot Disk, boot the PC and take a look @ the HD Root to see if those (3) files are there. Everything appears to be there except those (3) files which are required for Windows 2000 to boot successfully.

You'll need to either have made a backup of those files to a floppy or have access to a similarly configured Windows 2000 installation. See: How To Create Win2000 Boot Floppy. Even if you follow the steps described, it still may not work. We had to copy those (3) files from a floppy back to the HD to work. Since they're hidden, we worked from a Win98SE Boot Floppy. Get a note pad and get ready to get familiar with the Attrib command.

images/bullet2.gifFrom the Win98 DOS prompt, type: doskey to load.

Place these (3) files onto a secondary floppy. Insert this secondary floppy into the floppy drive. You'll understand in a minute. Read all of this before proceeding to see if any of this is applicable to your given situation.

Type: dir c:/p

If data structures appear OK, then proceed as follows:

If you did not do this on the other PC, from here @ the A:\ prompt:

Type: attrib -s -h ntldr ENTER.

Type: attrib -s -h ENTER.

Type: attrib -s -h boot.ini ENTER.

Copy A:\*.* C: ENTER.

Ntldr, NTDETECT.COM & boot.ini should now be on your HD in the Root Directory.

Now we have to reset those file attributes as follows.

Type: attrib +s +h ntldr ENTER.

Type: attrib +s +h ENTER.

Type: attrib +s +h boot.ini ENTER.

Double check your handy work while you're here.

Type: attrib ntldr ENTER.

Type: attrib ENTER.

Type: attrib boot.ini ENTER.

Now remove the boot floppy and reboot your PC. See why we used doskey?


Restoring Ntldr (Preferable):

Are you hosed? Maybe not. Here's what we've documented on Windows 2000 running FAT32. You'll need a Win98SE Boot Disk. Did you ever create that when you were running Win98SE? Great, otherwise you'll need some help. Just Boot that Disk to the DOS prompt.  If you'd rather stay in Win2000, get ready to take a trip to the Windows 2000 Recovery Console. You'll need your Administrator Password for that trip!

Don't bother with sys c: If Ntldr Missing, it won't do any good. Sys C: does not restore the NT boot loader (NTLDR). It only restores the Windows 98 system files (Config.sys, MSDOS.sys, etc.). Boot your Win98SE Floppy Disk and type: fdisk /mbr


One way - How to restore NTLDR

As previously mentioned, you'll need the files ntldr,, boot.ini from a working Win2000 installation, the files are hidden on the root folder, usually c: drive.

Start the Win2000 Setup, via Boot CD, go to the repair menu, then to the Repair Console.

Once you have your command line (for your Win2000 Partition) copy the files from floppy-disk to the Win2000 Root Folder (command line starts at c:winnt, Go to dir c: (type "cd .."). Then type copy a:boot.ini c:

You may have to fix the boot record (see command "fixboot" (or "fixmbr")) and re-activate your Win2000 Boot Partition (See: diskpart).


Another Option:

Try booting to your Win98 Floppy and type "FDISK /MBR". SYS does not restore the NT boot loader (NTLDR). It only restores the Windows 98 system files (Config.sys, MSDOS.sys, etc.). You could also try repairing your Win2K server installation off of the CD. This should overwrite just your system files, and not any programs or saved data. If all else fails, FDISK, FORMAT, reinstall.

If you prefer or have to go with the Win2000 Recovery Console, you'll see the following:

Windows 2000 Setup Screen

Boot From CD - Press Enter for Yes.
Next step: If your Boot Drive is on a special controller like a Promise ATA/100 Controller, be ready to Press F6 when asked if you have such. Otherwise, the Win2000 CD will not be able to "see" the controller and therefore not be able to "see" the HD on that controller.

Next step:
You will have an opportunity to (S=Specify Additional Device) as described above. Do so when prompted. Here you'll will need that controllers driver on a floppy disk. Those Controller Card driver files on a CD cannot be accessed yet! They MUST be on a Floppy!

Follow the directions:
Insert the disk for same controller mentioned above for same reasons already discussed. Press ENTER when ready. It's looking for txtsetup.oem. If options are provided, you'll need to know what O/S driver to use. For this, Win2000 Maxtor Ultra ATA 100 Controller. ENTER=Select. From here you'll be asked the same question again. Unless you have more controllers to install, move on. ENTER=Continue.

From here you should have (3) choices:
Setup Windows 2000, press ENTER.
Repair Windows 2000, press R.
Quite Setup without installing Windows 2000, press F3.

Choose Repair.

Windows 2000 Repair Options:
Recovery Console, press C. C=Console
Emergency Repair Process, press R. R=Repair

Choose C=Console.

A command line interface should now be visible stating:
Microsoft Windows 2000 Recovery Console.
The Recovery Console provides system repair and recovery functionality.
Type EXIT to quite the Recovery Console and restart the computer.


Which Windows 2000 installation would you like to log onto
<To cancel, press ENTER>?

Be SURE to select your number accordingly, otherwise you'll start all over to get to this point again!!! Press 1, ENTER. Now you'll need your Administrator password:


Understanding the Windows 2000 Emergency Repair Process

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Documentation:
To use emergency repair on a system that will not start

Recovery Console
A command-line interface that provides a limited set of administrative commands that are useful for repairing a computer. For example, you can use the Recovery Console to start and stop services, read and write data on a local drive (including drives formatted to use the NTFS file system), repair a master boot record (MBR), and format drives. You can start the Recovery Console from the Windows 2000 Setup disks or by using the Winnt32.exe command with the /cmdcons switch. See also MBR; NTFS file system; service.

Recovery Console - fixboot

Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Documentation:
To use emergency repair on a system that will not start

Ntldr Missing

Assume nothing, remain calm and think logically. First determines the status of your Windows 2000 Boot HD. If you're running FAT32, get a Win98SE Boot Disk and boot the system to visually inspect the Root HD.


If you do NOT see these (3) files listed above, they will need to be reinstalled preferably from either a backup floppy or from another similarly configured Windows 2000 PC. Try this before getting into the Recovery Console or trying to access the SAM file.

Your Sam file is located: C:\WINNT\system32\config

We suggest either making a backup of this file or just make sure you have your Administrators Password handy. You just never know when you might need it!

The Windows 2000 Recovery Console will require your Administrator Password. If that's not an option, then reinstalling everything may be your only hope. Unless you prefer a Password Recovery Tool. They go from $70.00 by email to $400.00 by snail mail for a CD.

We tried many of the options listed by both Microsoft and other well respected web sites. None of them worked for this situation.

In the future:
Make sure you have the above files handy on a floppy. And make all of those others too, ERD and System Setup Floppies. Did we mention - Most important, make sure you can readily access your Administrator Password!


Update (12/2/2003):

Another possible reason for this behavior could be Drive Geometry & FAT32. This occurs when changing the HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) which could affect changing the way the HD is read by the new System Bios Resources.

Data Recovery
File Systems

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Web Development, Gill Boyd & Team - Posted 04/14/2001; Updated 04/26/2008