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Windows may not start and you may receive an "NTLDR is missing" error message if Windows is not up-to-date and there are too many files in the root folder
Article ID: 320397 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q320397
If too many files are copied to the root folder of a boot volume that uses the NTFS file system, you may receive the following error message the next time that you restart the computer:
If you remove files from the root folder, the master file table (MFT) allocation index does not reduce to its original size.
NTLDR is missing
Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to restart.
Note If you are using Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or you are using Microsoft Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4 (SP4), this is not your issue. View the "More information" section for similar issues.
This problem may occur if the MFT root folder is severely fragmented. If the MFT root folder contains many files, the MFT may become so fragmented that an additional allocation index is created. Because files are mapped alphabetically in the allocation indexes, the NTLDR file may be pushed to the second allocation index. When this occurs, you receive the error message that is described in the "Symptoms" section.
Typically, files are not written to the root folder. This condition may occur if a program regularly creates and removes temporary files in the root folder, or if many files are copied to the root folder by mistake.
To resolve this problem, follow these steps:
Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed at the beginning of this article.
This problem was first corrected in Windows XP Service Pack 2.
This problem was first corrected in Windows 2000 Service Pack 4. For more information about how to obtain the latest service packs, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/322389/ )How to obtain the latest Windows XP service pack
260910Note If you install the Windows XP service pack or the Windows 2000 service pack, you will not resolve problems with an existing volume. You must run the utility to update the boot code separately. The service pack will only write the correct boot code for new volumes.
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/260910/ )How to obtain the latest Windows 2000 service pack
For more information about a related topic, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/318728/ )How to troubleshoot the "NTLDR is missing" error message in Windows 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/886215/ )You may receive a "NTLDR is missing press any key to restart" error message when you upgrade a Windows 98-based computer to Windows 2000 Professional
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/816793/ )How to troubleshoot the "NTLDR is missing" error message in Windows Server 2003
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/842009/ )"NTLDR is missing" error when you try to run Automated System Recovery in Windows Server 2003
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/883275/ )You cannot start your computer after you modify the permissions in Windows Server 2003, in Windows XP, or in Windows 2000
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315261/ )The computer does not start after you change the active partition by using the Disk Management tool
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/812492/ )Error message when you start your computer with a non-system disk
(http://support.microsoft.com/kb/228004/ )Changing active partition can make your system unbootable
Article ID: 320397 - Last Review: November 9, 2007 - Revision: 9.5