You are here:

Windows XP/I have a problem with NTLDR while starting my computer.


I am on Windows XP, I'm an absolute beginner and when I turn my computer on there is a message saying 'NTLDR is missing', I have tried following videos on Youtube, but after the setup loads the files the 3 choice menu doesn't come up, so I can't go any further with the video. Please could you help me with a step-by-step tutorial on how to fix this problem? Your help would be much appreciated, if you could help me please? thank-you, Greg Watkins.

Greetings Greg,

I would be happy to try help you. The NTLDR error can be caused by a number of things, so I’ll shoot out a bunch of ideas and hopefully one of those will solve it – I always hope for an ‘easy’ one, of course!

In case the fellow with the video didn’t explain it (I like to try to do so for others), “NTLDR” is a shortened name for the “NT LOADER”, which is what parts of the different things that start working [get things going] when Windows ‘starts up’ is named (NT stand for New Technology and Microsoft has used that name for the past few versions of Windows). All of those things that start up look for certain files in specific places, to help tell it what to do, and that error message is one of the signs that something that is needed ‘early on’ is not found, when trying to ‘boot up’ Windows.

For instance, one of the things the NTLOADER (NTLDR) does, is check where your Windows is installed (what drive inside the computer, and so on) and display it in a Menu sometimes for you to choose from (especially if there is a problem). If the NTLDR cannot find certain files that tell it this information (usually the BOOT.INI file), then it will complain with this message on the screen at startup. The BOOT.INI file is an important file for ‘booting up’ the computer and if it isn’t found, the computer can’t do much else, and so ends at that message.

To check if the computer is looking in the right places for the BOOT.INI file (it needs to find it in the ‘root’ or the first portion of the first hard drive inside the computer), check to see if there are any disks that are getting in the way of letting the computer look where it needs to. What I mean here is, if you have any CDs or DVDs in any of the  drive bays (in the trays that pop in and out), take out the disks when you start up the system. Under certain circumstances, the computer will try to look at these inserted disks first, before looking in the ‘root’ folder (that first portion of the ‘filing cabinet’ inside) and if it looks at those discs (they may be games, DVD movies, etc ) it won’t find the file it needs – of course! So, for a moment, take out any inserted discs and any USB connected devices (little media players such as ipods and inserted thumb drives that may be plugged in). Then, turn off the computer and turn it back on (or hit the RESET button if your system has one). Your computer should then be able to look in it’s ‘root’ folder of the hard drive [‘filing cabinet’] inside and hopefully finds the files it needs.

You were mentioning a “menu with three choices”… did you mean the white-text-on-a-blue-background “Windows Setup” utility? (It would say “Windows Setup” in the upper left of the screen on the blue background). If you meant that menu (where it says “To Setup Windows XP now, press ENTER”), you are probably trying to get to that second choice (“R”), to open the Recovery Console… If you are starting up the blue-background SETUP program, but cannot get into that three-menu choice screen, what is the message that is coming up? It should go there automatically, on it’s own, if you have the WindowsXP in the drive and are trying to start up the computer ‘from that’ and hitting a key to make it ‘boot from the CD’…
Let me know what the screen says when you are trying to get through the Windows Setup (WindowsXP disc inserted in the drive in the computer case) if it’s not going to the 3-choice menu.. there may be a problem with Windows and it is not being able to detect your drives or other components of the system... Perhaps you mean a different menu? One with a black background?...

As I am unsure of where you are experiencing the start of the problem, I cannot precisely advise of what to possibly do next (there are a few choices for each menu, depending on which one you are at). Please feel free to ask a “Follow Up” Question here at this site, and I would be happy to try to continue helping you, don't worry.
Please mention what menu you are working on, the video you are attempting to follow (there are a lot of helpful ones I have found, on YouTube), too if you can. Good luck, I’ll try to continue helping!


Windows XP

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Troy M. MCSE, CNA, MCP, CST, IC3, Aplus


Hi there! Even though I am relatively new around here, I have been having great fun with PCs for over two decades now, becoming familiar with Windows through versions 3.x/9x/Me/2000/XP/2003/7/8/10. I enjoy helping others with what I feel is an exciting industry - computers are always changing, improving and offering new opportunities for learning. I look forward to assisting you with questions concerning Windows, how it interacts with your PC Hardware, configuration/settings or just general tips and ideas. Besides troubleshooting questions, feel free to ask the basics, as well. I will always start there, and I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a dumb question - we are all ‘Beginners’ at one time or another!


I am an A+ Certified, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer with Computer Service Technician and LAN Administration diplomas and over 15 years direct experience with PCs including assembly, troubleshooting/support and upgrading. I have worked for retail outlets, schools and businesses, and have been an Instructor in the past as well – helping others, just like you, understand and enjoy computers!

MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), CNA (Certified Novell Administrator), MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional), CST (Computer Service Technician (Formerly Computer Engineering Technician)(Hardware/OS servicing Diploma), IC3 (Internet and Core Computing Certification)(Hardware/OperatingSystem/Internet Fundamentals Certification), A+ (Computing Technology Industry Association Hardware/Operating System Certification)

©2016 All rights reserved.