NTLDR is missing! YIKES!
December 26, 2007 4:52 PM   Subscribe

NTLDR is missing! YIKES!

Running XP2 on Toshiba Satellite A105. Can get to "C" prompt with XP disk. Can't get to safe mode via F8.

I have an external HD with USB cable so, by some miracle, I can copy from my laptop *.* to the external drive, but system won't read USB anything.

I've been searched Metafilter "safe mode" -mac and "ntldr" -mac.

Please help. Thank you so much!
posted by D Dear to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your XP install or your hard drive is borked.
posted by mphuie at 5:01 PM on December 26, 2007

I THINK that if you put in your XP recovery disc, or just any XP disc, running the repair option should fix this for you.

I also think that at C, you can probably type "fdisk /mbr" and that should work too.
posted by TomMelee at 5:13 PM on December 26, 2007

Response by poster: mphuie and TomMelee, I've tried this:

copy d:\i386\ntldr c:\

and this:

copy d:\i386\ntdetect.com c:\

and this:

bootcfg /rebuild

and this:


Still no luck. Thanks, everyone, for any guidance!
posted by D Dear at 5:29 PM on December 26, 2007

There's some decent recovery advice here or you could just take the laptop hd out, stick it in your external bay and plug it into another computer to back up your data before you re-install.
posted by systematic at 5:52 PM on December 26, 2007

recovery console, use expand option to replace broken files
posted by PowerCat at 6:22 PM on December 26, 2007

I had this problem out of the blue on my Toshiba laptop, and I did a bunch of XP disc repair stuff which somewhere along the line got me a "HAL.DLL corrupt/missing" error. I ultimately booted from a Puppy Linux Live CD and replaced my laptop's version of HAL.dll with another computer's copy.
posted by niles at 7:15 PM on December 26, 2007

Don't try to fix this yourself (e.g. by trying to copy the files you think are missing). Use XP's "repair" installation choice.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:59 PM on December 26, 2007

Here's what I'd do:

Drop a bootable XP disc in the drive
At the "Press any key to boot from CD" prompt, /don't/ press anything
The system installed on your hard disc will probably boot successfully (don't ask)
Backup everything to the USB drive
Reboot, boot from CD, and repair or re-install
posted by Leon at 8:05 PM on December 26, 2007

Also, try booting up without the USB drive attached. Sometimes the BIOS can get confused and think it's supposed to boot from the external drive... or else it can map the external drive as C, not find a boot sector there, and then try to boot from the internal D drive. The tiny, tiny boot sector doesn't know very much and looks on the C drive for NTLDR... if that's your external drive, boom, dead, no boot. The bootsector is only 512 bytes, so it's very, very stupid.

Just a thought.
posted by Malor at 8:22 PM on December 26, 2007

Eject the floppy disk and try again.
posted by flabdablet at 1:16 AM on December 27, 2007

Yeah, try all combinations at bootup. I had this happen to me and tried to futz with everything and I think I eventually destroyed the OS and had to reinstall.

Definitely try disconnecting the USB drive and booting again.

IANAGeek but i think if you do get in, run checkdisk when you restart?
posted by sully75 at 5:02 AM on December 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I've tried all, still no luck. However... suppose I installed Linux? What would that do? Would I still be able to access my files? I really want to boot so I can transfer files, then reformat my HD. Pros? Cons? Come one, come all... I'm ready to hear what you have to say. Thanks again!
posted by D Dear at 4:58 PM on December 27, 2007

A disc-based Linux distro (eg Knoppix) might let you access both drives, and backup your files before reinstalling.
posted by Leon at 5:43 PM on December 27, 2007

IF you go linux, download a bootable rescue style disc (lots of them---pick a winner. Ubuntu's an easy choice) and boot to the disc WITHOUT installing. It should allow you to burn off any files you need to save or move. I do this all the time with infected machines.
posted by TomMelee at 7:24 PM on December 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you, Leon and TomMelee, for answering my questions! I'll give it a go and let you know. Y'all are the best!
posted by D Dear at 2:23 AM on December 28, 2007

Response by poster: Update: After trying all of the above with no success and much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I went here. After following the instructions in items 1, 2 and 3 at the first link, nothing happened... BUT! I went from "Missing NTLDR" to "Compressed NTLDR" then I went here. My system booted up, albeit with a few errors, I retrieved my files, did a fresh install and now am back in business. Thanks again to one and all!
posted by D Dear at 10:50 AM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

BTW I heard this can happen when you reboot with a USB flash drive in your computer. Which I do all the time, but one time it went really bad.
posted by sully75 at 4:28 AM on December 30, 2007

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