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"Windows NT Could Not Start...Ntoskrnl.exe" error message

This article was previously published under Q124550
For a Microsoft Windows XP version of this article, see 314477.
SYMPTOMS
When you try to start Microsoft Windows NT, you may receive the following errormessage:
Windows NT could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

Winnt_root\System32\Ntoskrnl.exe

Please re-install a copy of the above file.
CAUSE
This behavior can occur if any of the following conditions exist:
  • The Default value in the [Boot Loader] section of the Boot.ini file is missing or invalid.
  • Windows NT is not installed in the location specified in the Boot.inifile.
  • For Microsoft Windows 2000, the Hal.dll file can be corrupted or missing.
NOTE: This issue can also occur in Windows NT 4.0 and 3.5 if the system partition is larger than 7.8 gigabytes and system boot files have be placed outside of the 7.8 GB limit (possibly as a result of applying a service pack or defragmenting the drive). Windows XP does not have this limitation. This is a hardware limitation and occurs independently of the operating system. This should not be an issue on newer computer if their BIOS supports INT13 Extensions and this feature is turned on, which it is by default.

For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
224526 Windows NT 4.0 supports maximum of 7.8-GB system partition
RESOLUTION
To resolve this problem, use one of the following methods:

Method One

Start the operating system with a bootable disk. After you start the operating system, edit the Default entry in Boot.ini and ensure that the other entries in the [Operating Systems] section point to the appropriate directories.

Method Two

Use the repair process to correct inconsistencies in the Boot.ini file. Todo so, follow these steps:
  1. Start your computer using the three Windows NT Setup diskettes. When prompted, type R to begin the repair process.
  2. Insert the Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) in the floppy drive when you are prompted.
  3. When prompted, enable only the Inspect Startup Environment option tocorrect inconsistencies in the Boot.ini file.
  4. Follow the instructions on your screen to complete the repair process.

Method Three

If you determine the system partition is larger than 7.8 GB, Windows NT has been setup in an unsupported configuration, and the drive will need to be repartitioned to a size less than 7.8 GB.

Method Four (Windows 2000)

To fix a corrupted Hal.dll file, restore the Hal.dll file from a backup to the %windir%\sytem32\ folder.

For additional information about how to fix a corrupted Hal.dll file, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
237556 How to troubleshoot Windows 2000 hardware abstraction layer issues
MORE INFORMATION
If the Default value in the [Boot Loader] section of the Boot.ini file ismissing, Windows NT displays a new entry in the OS Loader (boot loader)menu named "NT (default)" and defaults to the new entry. The "NT(default)" entry points to the following path to load Windows NT:

   multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT				
For additional information about the Boot.ini file, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
102873 Boot.Ini and ARC path naming conventions and usage
Properties

Article ID: 124550 - Last Review: 09/11/2011 05:49:00 - Revision: 4.0

  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.5
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 3.51
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • kberrmsg KB124550
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