How to troubleshoot the "NTLDR is missing" error message in Windows Server 2003

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Article ID: 816793 - View products that this article applies to.
For a Microsoft Windows 2000 version of this article, see 318728.
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SUMMARY

This step-by-step article describes methods that you can use to troubleshoot the "NTLDR is missing" error message that you may receive when you try to start Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

How to troubleshoot the "NTLDR is missing" error message

When you start your Windows Server 2003-based computer, you may receive the following error message:
NTLDR is missing
Press any key to restart
This problem may occur if the basic input/output system (BIOS) on your computer is outdated, or if one or more of the following Windows boot files are missing or damaged:
Ntldr
Ntdetect.com
Boot.ini
To resolve this issue, verify that the BIOS on your computer is current, and then use one or more of the following methods, depending on your situation, to repair the Windows Server 2003 Startup environment.

Important To prevent data loss, Microsoft recommends that you fully back up your data periodically. The backup of data must be a part of any disaster recovery plan.

Verify that the BIOS on the computer is current

Make sure that the latest revision for BIOS is installed on the computer. Contact the computer manufacturer for information about how to obtain and install the latest BIOS update that is available for the computer.

For information about how to configure and to verify the correct BIOS settings for the computer, see the computer documentation or contact the manufacturer of the computer.

For information about how to contact your hardware vendor, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/gp/vendors
For more information about how to contact BIOS manufacturers, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
243909 List of BIOS manufacturer Web site, part 1
243971 List of BIOS manufacturer Web sites, part 2

Repair the Windows Startup environment

To repair the Windows startup environment, use one or more of the following methods, depending on your situation.

Method 1: Use a boot disk

To use a boot disk to repair the Windows Startup environment, follow these steps:
  1. Create a Windows Server 2003 boot disk that contains the following files:
    Ntldr
    Ntdetect.com
    Boot.ini
    Ntbootdd.sys
    Note Ntbootdd.sys may not be included on all Windows Server 2003 computers.
  2. For more information about how to create a boot disk, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    301680 How to create a boot disk for an NTFS or FAT partition in Windows
    101668 How to use a Windows boot disk to prevent boot failure in Windows 2000 or Windows NT
  3. Modify the Boot.ini file to point to the correct hard disk controller and to the correct volume for your Windows installation.

    For more information about how to modify the Boot.ini file, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    323427 How to manually edit the Boot.ini file in a Windows Server 2003 environment
  4. Insert the boot disk into the floppy disk drive, and then restart the computer.
  5. Copy the Ntldr file, the Ntdetect.com file, and the Boot.ini file from the boot disk to the system partition of the local hard disk.

Method 2: Use the Recovery Console

Microsoft provides programming examples for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose. This article assumes that you are familiar with the programming language being demonstrated and the tools used to create and debug procedures. Microsoft support professionals can help explain the functionality of a particular procedure, but they will not modify these examples to provide added functionality or construct procedures to meet your specific needs.
If you have limited programming experience, you may want to contact a Microsoft Certified Partner or Microsoft Advisory Services. For more information, visit these Microsoft Web sites:

Microsoft Certified Partners - https://partner.microsoft.com/global/30000104

Microsoft Advisory Services - http://support.microsoft.com/gp/advisoryservice

For more information about the support options that are available and about how to contact Microsoft, visit the following Microsoft Web site:http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=fh;EN-US;CNTACTMS To use the Recovery Console to repair the Windows Startup environment, follow these steps:
  1. Use the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM to restart the computer.
  2. At the Welcome to Setup screen, press R to repair the Windows Server 2003 installation.
  3. To use the Recovery Console to repair the Windows Server 2003 installation, press C.
  4. Type the number that corresponds to the Windows installation that you want to repair, and then press ENTER. For more information about the Recovery Console, see the "Recovery Console overview" topic in Windows Server 2003 Help and Support Center.
  5. Type the Administrator password, and then press ENTER.
  6. Type map, and then press ENTER. Make a note of the drive letter that is assigned to the CD-ROM drive that contains the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM.
  7. Type:
    copy Drive:\i386\ntldr c:\
    NoteDrive is the drive letter that you noted in step 6, and then press ENTER.
  8. Type:
    copy drive:\i386\ntdetect.com c:\
    If you are prompted to overwrite the file, type y, and then press ENTER.

    Note In these commands, a space exists between ntldr and c:\, and between ntdetect.com and c:\.
  9. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    type c:\Boot.ini
    A list that is similar to the following list appears:
    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard" /fastdetect
    If you receive the following error message, the Boot.ini file may be missing or damaged:
    The system cannot find the file or directory specified.
  10. If the Boot.ini file is missing or damaged, re-create it. To do so, follow these steps:
    1. Use a text editor, such as Notepad or Edit.com, to create a boot loader file that is similar to the following boot loader file:
      [boot loader]
      timeout=30
      default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
      
      [operating systems]
      multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows Server 2003,  Standard" /fastdetect
      For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
      102873 BOOT.INI and ARC path naming conventions and usage
    2. Save the file to a floppy disk. When you do so, in the Save As box, type:
      Boot.ini
      Note If you used Notepad to create the file, make sure that the .txt extension is not appended to the Boot.ini file name.
    3. Type the following command at the Recovery Console command prompt to copy the Boot.ini file from the floppy disk to the computer:
      copy a:\Boot.ini c:\
  11. Type exit, and then press ENTER. The computer restarts.

Method 3: Use the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM

To use the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM to repair the Windows Startup environment, follow these steps:
  1. Insert the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive or into the DVD-ROM drive, and then start Windows Server 2003 Setup.
  2. On the Welcome to Setup page, press the R key.
  3. On the Windows Server 2003 Repair Options page, press R.
  4. When you are prompted to select one of the repair options, press M.
  5. To select Verify Windows Server 2003 system files, press the UP ARROW two times, and then press ENTER..
  6. Press the DOWN ARROW to select Continue (perform selected tasks), and then press ENTER. You receive the following message:
    You need an Emergency Repair disk for the Windows Server 2003
    installation you want to repair.
  7. Use one of the following methods, as appropriate to your situation:
    • If you have an emergency repair disk, follow these steps:
      1. Press ENTER.
      2. Insert the emergency repair disk into the floppy disk drive, and then press ENTER.
      3. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to repair the installation, and then restart the computer.
    • If you do not have an emergency repair disk, follow these steps:
      1. Press L. You receive a message that is similar to the following message:
        Setup has found Windows Server 2003 in the following folder:
        drive:\WINDOWS "Microsoft Windows Server 2003"
      2. Press ENTER.

        Setup examines the disks, and then finishes the repair.

The Setup program cannot locate the Windows Server 2003 installation

If the Setup program cannot locate the Windows Server 2003 installation, follow these steps:
  1. Start Windows Server 2003 Setup.
  2. On the Setup will install Windows Server 2003 on partition page, use the ARROW keys to select Leave the current file system intact (no changes), and then press ENTER.
  3. Press ESC to install Windows Server 2003 to a new folder.
  4. In the Select the folder in which the files should be copied box, type \tempwin, and then press ENTER.

    Setup installs a new copy of Windows Server 2003.
  5. Log on to the new copy of Windows Server 2003.
  6. Click Start, and then click Run.
  7. In the Open box, type cmd, and then click OK.
  8. At the command prompt, type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    drive:
    Note In the command, drive is the boot drive of the computer. For example, type c:, and then press ENTER.
  9. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    attrib -h -r -s Boot.ini
  10. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    edit Boot.ini
    Edit.com opens a Boot.ini file that is similar to the following file:
    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\TEMPWIN
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\TEMPWIN="Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard" /fastdetect
  11. In the Boot.ini file, replace all instances of "TEMPWIN" with "WINDOWS". A Boot.ini file appears that is similar to the following file:
    [boot loader]
    timeout=30
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard" /fastdetect
  12. Press ALT+F, and then press S.
  13. Press ALT+F, and then press X.
  14. Type the following command, and then press ENTER:
    attrib +h +r +s Boot.ini
  15. Type exit, and then press ENTER to quit the command prompt.
  16. Restart the computer.
  17. At the Please select the operating system to start screen, use the ARROW keys to select Microsoft Windows Server 2003, and then press ENTER.
  18. Start Windows Explorer, locate the following folders, and then delete them:
    Tempwin
    All Users.Tempwin
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
228004 Changing active partition can make your system unbootable

Perform a parallel installation of Windows Server 2003

If the methods that are described in this article do not resolve the issue, perform a parallel installation of Windows Server 2003, and then use Windows Explorer to copy the data that you want to recover from your original Windows installation.

For more information about how to perform a parallel installation of Windows Server 2003, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
324268 How to troubleshoot shutdown problems in Windows Server 2003

REFERENCES

For more information about how to troubleshoot startup problems in Windows Server 2003, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
325375 How to troubleshoot startup problems in Windows Server 2003
For more information about the Recovery Console in Windows 2000, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
326215 How to use the Recovery Console on a Windows Server 2003-based computer that does not start

Properties

Article ID: 816793 - Last Review: August 13, 2007 - Revision: 6.7
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
Keywords: 
kbhowto kberrmsg KB816793

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