“NTLDR Is Missing” Error Message

Louie from Miami writes:

What does it mean by NT Loader is missing?

The NT Loader – frequently abbreviated to NTLDR in error messages – is what older Microsoft operating systems such as Windows XP and Windows 2000 use to boot up from a hard disk drive. The primary cause of an “NTLDR is missing” error is that your computer is trying to boot up from another device besides the primary hard drive: a CD, USB memory stick, external hard drive, an SD card in the computer’s card reader, or even a floppy disk on machines that still use them.


Remove or unplug any of the aforementioned devices connected to your computer and restart the operating system. If that was the cause of the issue, your operating system should boot up without any problems.

If the error message still appears when booting up, it means the NTLDR is missing or corrupt and needs to be reinstalled. To start this process, insert the recovery disc that came with your computer and restart the operating system. Tap a key when the “Press any key to boot from CD” prompt appears on the screen and then tap the “R” key to open the repair prompt.

Windows Recovery Console

Type the number “1” in the prompt and tap “Enter” to select your primary operating system, and then type your operating system password and tap “Enter” again. If you don’t use a password, leave the prompt blank and tap “Enter.”

Type the phrase “copy d:\i386\ntldr c:\” (without the quotes) and press “Enter” to copy the NTLDR file from the recovery disc to your hard drive, and then tap the “Y” key to confirm the transfer.

Note that if your CD/DVD drive isn’t set to the “d” drive, you’ll need to replace “d” with whatever drive letter you use. After the file is transferred, type “copy d:\i386\ntdetect.com c:\” (without the quotes) and tap “Enter” and then “Y” again to finish the process. Restart your computer.

Repairing the NTLDR directly should fix the problem, but you may still get an error message if your computer’s boot order has been changed so that it tries to boot from a device other than the hard drive. To fix this issue, restart the computer and tap the key to open the BIOS (typically this is “F2,” but your computer’s boot screen may list a different option). Use the arrow keys to move over to the “Boot” heading.

BIOS Headings

Scroll down to the “Hard Drive” entry and tap the “+” key to move it up the list until it reaches the top of the boot order (the options for changing the boot order in any given computer’s BIOS may vary – check the text on the right side of the screen while in the BIOS for specific instructions). Press “F10” to save the change and restart the computer.

In most cases reinstalling the NTLDR and changing the boot order will resolve the error message. If you continue to experience problems, unfortunately you will need to either reinstall Windows altogether or fully replace the hard drive.

~ Ty Arthur

4 thoughts on ““NTLDR Is Missing” Error Message

  1. Hi Ty Arthur,

    I appreciate your detailed reply that takes care of all possibilities. Thanks!

  2. Learning about computers is difficult enough without teachers making glaring grammatical mistakes in their instructions. Call me picky, but I think all we write should be proof read.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      What is the error that is causing you problems? We did proof read this article, and I just reread it when I saw your comment, but did not see any mistakes. Please let me know so I can edit it.

  3. Strangely enough, the NTLDR error message happened to me for the first time this past weekend. I didn’t know what that meant, and I’m such a neophyte that I thought my computer was dying!! I tried the few tricks that I knew but nothing worked so I turned off my computer, waited about 15 minutes and turned it on again. Problem solved!!

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