Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NTLDR is missing

I ran across that error recently on a Windows 2000 machine. There are several reasons this may happen and you can Alltheweb for them and the myriad of possible solutions. I'll summarize what worked for me.

The system in question was missing the ntdetect.com and ntldr files under C:\. Of course, there is no way to know that until you actually get back into the system. I guess it's a real crapshoot to find the right fix for the machine you're working on. Anyway, what I did was copied the two of the three necessary files - ntldr and ntdetect.com from a working W2K system onto a floppy which already had boot.ini (I left that on there from some tool I tried previously; before I knew I had access to another working W2K machine) on it and tried to boot; same error. So I looked at the boot.ini file and on the disk I had and it looked like so:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect

The only thing that looked unusual to me was the timeout set at 0. So I changed it to 10 and then tried to boot the system in question again. Presto. So I copied over the ntldr and ntdetect.com into C:\, boot.ini was already there, and the system now booted fine without errors and the aid of the floppy. I don't know why changing timeout from 0 to 10 worked but it did. From using LILO all these years I always thought timeout was just the delay before it booted to the default choice. Maybe it means something else in boot.ini. Regardless, it worked.


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