"Windows could not start because the following file is missing: \system32\drivers\ntfs.sys" error message in Windows XP Service Pack 2


When you start your computer that is running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), you may receive the following error message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing:


This issue may occur if you performed the following steps:

  1. You installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).
  2. You installed the Windows XP SP1 rollup that is described in the following article:

    826939 Update Rollup 1 for Windows XP is available

  3. After the 826939 Update Rollup was installed, you enabled hyper-threading, or you added a second processor to your computer.
This issue occurs because the 826939 Update Rollup 1 for Windows XP was released before Windows XP SP2. The rollup should not be installed after Windows XP SP2 is installed.


To resolve this issue, follow these steps:
  1. Insert the Windows XP startup disk in the floppy disk drive, or insert the Windows XP CD in the CD drive, and then restart the computer.
  2. Click to select any options that are required to start the computer from the CD drive if you are prompted to do this.
  3. When the "Welcome to Setup" screen appears, press R to start the Recovery Console.
  4. If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the installation that you want to access from the Recovery Console.
  5. When you are prompted, type the Administrator password. If the Administrator password is blank, press ENTER.
  6. At the Recovery Console command prompt, type the following lines. Press ENTER after each line.
    cd system32
    ren ntkrnlpa.exe ntkrnlpa.old
    ren ntoskrnl.exe ntoskrnl.old
    cd "c:\windows\driver cache\i386"
    expand sp2.cab -F:ntkrpamp.exe c:\windows\system32
    expand sp2.cab -F:ntkrnlmp.exe c:\windows\system32
    cd c:\windows\system32
    ren ntkrpamp.exe ntkrnlpa.exe
    ren ntkrnlmp.exe ntoskrnl.exe
  7. Type exit to quit Recovery Console. Your computer will restart.


Microsoft has confirmed that this is a problem in the Microsoft products that are listed in the "Applies to" section.

Article ID: 887675 - Last Review: Feb 15, 2017 - Revision: 3