Windows won't start - NTLDR Is Missing

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Post 3+ Months Ago

My laptop won't start today, though was fine when I shut it down last night.
On startup, I get the Dell loading screen briefly, then I just get a black screen with 'NTLDR or Is Missing' and 'press key to restart, which just makes it repeat that.
I tried booting from my Vista Disc to repair it. Startup repair won't work. I get...

Startup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically
Problem details:
Problem signature:
Problem event name: StartupRepairV2
Problem Signature 01: ExternalMedia
Problem Signature 02: 6.0.6001.18000.0.0.0.0
Problem Signature 03: 0
Problem Signature 04: 65537
Problem Signature 05: unknown
Problem Signature 06: NoOsinstalled
Problem Signature 07: 0
Problem Signature 08: 1
Problem Signature 09: FixPartitionTable
Problem Signature 10: 1168
OS Version: 6.0.6001.2.1.0.256.1
Locale ID: 1033


Means nothing to me. When I boot from my Vista cd and select system restore, it offers a restore point but and it says it successfully restored but the startup problem is still there, just goes from the Dell startup to 'NTLDR or Is Missing' and 'press key to restart'.

Can anyone help me, please. I don't know what to do next.

Hopeful regards,
Cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

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Post 3+ Months Ago

Try last know good config first. Hit F8 a few time when you turn on the PC. Don't use the CD. Use the arrows when you get to the menu.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks for the reply.

I've now tried that.
when I do all it gives me the choice of hitting f2 or f12, neither of which leads me to a start in safe mode or last good configuration options.
If I don't hit f2 or f12 very quickly, it again goes black with 'NTLDR or Is Missing' and 'press key to restart'


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Post 3+ Months Ago

While in f12 screen, I ran a Pre Boot System Assessment (although I can't recall how I got to that option as I can't find it again).

Everything passed, then it asked if I wanted to do a complete memory scan (I think) and, after scanning, it came up with No diagnostic utility partition defined. Please select ok or reboot your system

I don't know if that is ok or bad
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I've just booted from my Vista cd and selected system restore, it offered a restore point and it says it successfully restored but the startup problem is still there, just goes from the Dell startup to 'NTLDR or Is Missing' and 'press key to restart'.

Can't get an option for start in safe mode, f8 is not getting to that, it still just goes to 'NTLDR or Is Missing' and 'press key to restart' and not to the safe start option.

Cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Can you verify your hard disk is setup properly in your BIOS? Also double check that your hard disk set in your boot order, should probably be right after your DVD-ROM. Many times this error is caused when the computer is attempting to boot from a non-bootable floppy disk or CD-ROM. With many motherboards you will get to your BIOS area by pressing the Delete key while loading, but I am not sure if maybe that is what your F2 or F12 keys are for.

Is there anything you did to your computer yesterday that you can think of before you shut down? Did you do anything with your hard drives? Install any software? Upgraded anything?
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi.
Thank you, I did as you suggested and checked the boot order and diskette was first boot device, so I was able to re-order it so that internal HDD was first but it hasn't resolved the problem.

Nothing was done or added that might explain the problem arising. There was a windows update a couple of days before it happened but nothing that I know of immediately before it. I shut it down properly at night, unplugged it as usual, and it was like this the next morning.

One thing I found on at Dell's site (it's a Dell laptop, so I looked there first) was this...
NTLDR or NTDETECT Is Missing or Corrupt Error Message
1. Start the Windows XP Recovery Console:
1. Insert the Windows XP installation CD into the CD or DVD drive.
2. Restart the computer.
3. While the computer is starting, repeatedly press F12 every 3 seconds to access the one-time boot menu.
4. When the one-time boot menu appears, press the Down Arrow to highlight the CD-ROM option that appears, which is one of the following options: Onboard CD-ROM Drive or Onboard USB CD-ROM Drive.
5. Press Enter.
6. When the computer boots to the CD-ROM drive, press R to enter the Recovery Console.
7. If prompted, select the number corresponding to the Windows installation you want to repair and press <Enter>.
8. Enter the Administrator password, if any, and press <Enter>.
2. Type map, and press <Enter>. Make note of the drive letter assigned to the optical (DVD or CD-ROM) drive.

3. Type copy x:\i386\ntldr c:\ (where x is the drive letter for the optical drive), and press <Enter>.

4. Type copy x:\i386\ntdetect.com c:\ (where x is the drive letter for the optical drive), and press <Enter>.

5. If you are prompted to overwrite the file, type y, and press <Enter>.

6. Type exit and press <Enter>.

7. As the computer restarts, remove the Windows XP CD.


However, at step 7... 'If prompted, select the number corresponding to the Windows installation you want to repair and press <Enter>'.
It only offers...
Windows Vista Home Premium D: Local drive
That may be fine, it doesn't show a C: drive but I don't know if that matters. I think D is the Recovery partition on my HDD but not certain, I have no way of checking the drive letters.
There is an option there to Load Drivers and a Next button, so I click Next to get to System Recovery Options.

(step 8. Enter the Administrator password, if any, and press <Enter>. doesn't apply in my case as the recovery console opens without that being offered or required)

then I'm stuck at the next step,( 2. Type map, and press <Enter>. Make note of the drive letter assigned to the optical (DVD or CD-ROM) drive.)
There is nowhere to type that.
There is a menu with...
Start Up repair (tried but said it failed to repair - see earlier post for that report)

System Restore (did that and it said it successfully restored to a date before last Windows update but it didn't solve the problem)

Windows Complete Restore for loading a backup image (I don't have one to upload)

Windows memory Diagnostic Tool (did that and can't now remember what it said but I think it all passed as ok)

Command Prompt (I opened that and followed the instructions...
2. Type map, and press <Enter>. Make note of the drive letter assigned to the optical (DVD or CD-ROM) drive.

It says map isn't recognised as an internal or external command. I think the dvd drive is E: though

I then did this step
3. Type copy x:\i386\ntldr c:\ (where x is the drive letter for the optical drive), and press <Enter>.

but typing in
copy e:\i386\ntldr c:\
and tried
copy e:\i386\ntldr d:\
since D: is actually the only one that showed up earlier

none worked
It comes up with
System cannot find the path specified

When I open the command prompt in the System Recovery Options menu, the command prompt line starts with x:\Sources>
That is there when I open it and does not delete. I don't know what it means or if it is causing the path to be wrong or if I shouldn't even be typing those lines in the command prompt but those instructions looked like command prompts, so I tried it, as there was nowhere else I could type them.
Although I avoid the command prompt like the plague, as I don't know anything about it, I am more accustomed to seeing it start with c:\Users\Cerio>, an not with x:\Sources>

I don't know if all that will enlighten anyone but I hope it will.

Cerio


PS
I also tried that option to Load Drivers and it comes up with all the folders on the CD but wants me to type in a name for it to find and I have no idea what name or path I should type there for it to find the required file, if the missing one is in there
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Post 3+ Months Ago

To me it sounds like your partition is completely messed up and thus why it is not even recognizing your C drive (or more accurately the C partition, thankfully your recovery partition still sounds like its there). Would you be open to doing a complete system restore which would get your laptop back to factory settings that you had the first day you purchased your laptop? I kind of think that would be your easiest option if you are okay losing everything on your laptop (when I say losing everything, I mean your personal data, files, etc you had saved).

If you are open to doing a complete system restore and am unsure how to do it, please let us know exactly what Dell Laptop you have.
  • cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi.
I'm keeping a full system restore as a last resort. I know how to do that but am desperately trying to not lose data (it's actually my daughter's computer and she has a lot stuff on it for work but it is easiest to write here as though it is mine. She will be devastated to lose all the stuff on it, so I'm doing all I can to avoid that unless it must be done, she expects her mother to be able to sort her few computer problems over the years but I think this time I may fail and have to reformat).

It has been suggested I do a fixboot command in the command prompt. I am unsure, knowing so little about all that. I assume I would do it to D: drive (recovery partition). Any advice on that?

If I get nowhere, I will take it to a repair shop and see if they can save it. If they can't, it will have to be a complete reinstall, assuming the HDD isn't actually faulty and that is why there is a problem.

If I end up doing a reformat and losing all data, I might see if I can retrieve any data after that, using Encase (which I have). Not too hopeful but it will be worth a try, I guess.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

The instructions I mentioned from the Dell site...

to Type copy x:\i386\ntldr c:\ (where x is the drive letter for the optical drive), and press <Enter>. etc

are for Windows XP, I'm wondering if there is a slightly different way to do them in Vista but I can only find XP instructions.

Clutching at straws, I know

What you said...'To me it sounds like your partition is completely messed up and thus why it is not even recognizing your C drive'... sounds probable. I have been troubled by the C drive not showing up in System Repair, only the D drive partition.

Cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

No problem, doing a system restore was the easy way out and just wanted to make sure you knew of that option. Obviously you do and need to save your data. About 3 months ago I had a similar problem of yours and on my drive where I store crucial business files, I thought I lost the drive. The drive was not showing up, I couldn't get access to anything, and my last backup was about a month old. I tried all sorts of things and in the end what saved me was this program:

http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

Quote:
TestDisk is powerful free data recovery software! It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software, certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table). Partition table recovery using TestDisk is really easy.


Not only is it free, but its a powerful program. In the end for me my partition tables were messed up and by fixing that my hard drive and all of its contents were accessible again and I immediately made a few backups of my hard drive as I was sweating for a few days there. I should note, in my situation it was not only the partition tables that were messed up, but for some reason the number of cylinders set on my hard drive needed to be corrected. Before doing that this program at first appeared like it was not going to help me, but the program also lets you change how your hard drive is configured, and once I did that then this missing partition table was able to be recovered and everything went back to normal. The cause of my hard drive problem was a system crash due to running out of RAM, somehow that messed up the partition table.

Anyway I think the program above might be something worth running for you on your computer and see if you can fix the partition tables for your C drive. You may need to burn it to a CD first so that you have access to run it. Once you are able to get it to work and have access to run it read over this page:

http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Step_By_Step

and see if you can resolve anything. Let me know how it goes.

cerio wrote:
It has been suggested I do a fixboot command in the command prompt. I am unsure, knowing so little about all that. I assume I would do it to D: drive (recovery partition). Any advice on that?


I would not do anything to your recovery partition, that is not your problem. You do not want to lose that or you will not be able to do a system restore if you have to do that as your last resort. So my advice is to not do anything towards your D drive. As far as the fixboot, command, I am unsure on that one -- your problem though is you cannot issue any commands on your C drive because your system is not recognizing it. That is where the program above I mention can help you.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi.
Thanks.
I have downloaded TestDisk to my own laptop but I can't install it on the laptop that won't boot up, so can't work out how to use it on the corrupted one. Have I overlooked that information?

Cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You need to burn it to a CD, and then run it from that on your laptop. You will probably need to boot into the recovery console first. Then access the CD from there.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Excellent, thanks. I'll burn it now and read through the instructions again.

Cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Sorry, I'm not being too bright here, I think my brain is beginning to overload with instructions for all the different things I've been trying to fix it with.

I booed the laptop using the Vista disk, I'm now at the Recovery options - see photoImage
I put the TestDisk CD in, in place of the Vista disk. I don't know what to do now, I still have that system recovery screen showing

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Post 3+ Months Ago

Goto the Command Prompt next :)
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Post 3+ Months Ago

When I go to command prompt, should testdisk show up in place of the windows cmd.exe? I'm getting this. Am I just being stupid?

This is what I have when I go to command prompt
Image

I am not very familiar with command prompt, so can't guess steps to take there.

I have now got the command prompt to E:\> and, if nothing more, I now know for sure that E is the dvd drive but I don't know how to get the TestDisk dvd to run and appear in command prompt

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Once you get in there you will need to goto the location that your DVD drive would be. So for instance if it is drive E, then you would type in:

E:

and hit enter after. The beginning of the line will then say something like:

E:\>

Then once you are on the disc, you can type:

dir

to make sure you are seeing the right files. If the program is in a folder you will want to type something like:

cd somefolder

which will change the directory to somefolder (cd is the command, and it stands for change directory). Once you do that type:

dir

again to see the contents. Get to the right spot where testdisk_win.exe is. Most likely once you change to the correct drive you will want to change directories to something like:

cd testdisk-6.11.3\win

Once you are in the right folder then you would type:

testdisk_win.exe

or whatever the name of the program is and that will then run it. Let me know if that helps.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Rats.
I typed in... dir ...and it listed all the testdisk cd contents, I then put in... cd testdisk-6.11.3\win ...which matches the path on mine, so I thought it should work but I get... The system cannot find the path specified

I tried it without cd, in case you hadn't meant me to type that but got the same result

The file is on the cd and the command prompt is reading the cd but I'm stuck again

here is an image of the open cd (in my working laptop), there are numbers in the path at the top of the window (110314_0000), should those go in somewhere?
Image

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Post 3+ Months Ago

Another step forward but thwarted again...

I noticed the win folder had <DIR> beside it so I got in with just E:\>dir win and now the testdisk_win.exe shows

so I put in E:\>testdisk_win.exe but got...
testdisk_win.exe is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hmm I wonder if the testdisk program needs the Windows system32 dynamic libraries in order to run.

Do me a favor. Type in this in the command console:

fixmbr

let me know if it works or fails.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

You can also try setting the environmental variables. In the command prompt type this:

set path=X:\windows\system32

Then hit enter. Then try to run the testdisk_win.exe file again.
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I just realized there is a dos folder as well. Using the program in that folder may get around not having to depend on any of the system32 files. Change directory (cd), into the dos folder and try then do a dir there and run the program there and see if you have any luck.
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tried running it from the DOS folder, same result as before...
testdisk_win.exe is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

that dos folder only contains a readme text file

If type in C:\>dir it says...
0 files
1 Dir(s) 3,203,436,544 bytes free

If I do D:\>dir it shows lots of files including <DIR> Windows

I assume I do fixmbr at D:\>
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ok. I tried D:\>fixmbr and all I got was...
'fixmbr' is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

I then got reckless and tried D:\>fixboot and all I got was...
'fixboot' is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

I also tried set path=X:\windows\system32 followed by again trying testdisk_win.exe but again got...
'testdisk_win.exe' is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

I'm growing to hate that 'is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file' statement

Cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I just read the readme and it looks like you need to download the DOS version separately. Maybe try downloading, burning this to a DVD, and see if this does anything differently for you:

http://www.cgsecurity.org/testdisk-6.11.3.dos.zip
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Thanks. Downloaded it now and will have a go.

I've just been trying the manual repairs shown here (scroll down that page)...
http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering%20the%20Vista%20Bootloader%20from%20the%20DVD

In the early stages of doing those command prompts, when I put in...
del C:\boot\bcd
it said there was none to delete, but I carried on with the subsequent instructions, creating the temp one

but then command prompt didn't accept...
bcdedit.exe /store c:\boot\bcd.temp /create {bootmgr} /d "Windows Boot Manager"

it said parameters were wrong or something, so I could go no further with the instructions and just deleted the bcd.temp I'd created

Cerio
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just tried going to the cd's dos dir and running testdisk_win.exe but got the same result of...
'testdisk_win.exe' is not recognised as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

I've run out of things to try now.

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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hmm, maybe try this. Once you first get into the command prompt, you will probably see something like:

x:\Sources

by default, right? If so then type this in:

bootrec.exe

and let me know if anything happens.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

bootrec.exe throws up 4 pieces of info.
FixMbr (I've tried that with no success)
Fixboot (I've tried that with no success)
/ScanOs - scan all disks for installations compatible with Windows Vista and display and display the entries that are currently not in the boot configuration store.

/RebuildBcd scan all disks for installations compatible with Windows Vista and allow the user to choose wich to add to the boot configuration store (I may have done this too but can't recall now, so perhaps I didn't)

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