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  • Vista dual-booting '/ntldr missing or corrupt' fix

    I've been fiddling with my computer recently, trying to get it to all work nicely after I inherited some new parts. I have a seperate partition on my hard drive for the purposes of testing Windows Vista RC1. After having to repair my XP installation due to a change in motherboard chipset and CPU (AMD to Intel), I realised I could not boot into Vista anymore - the Vista Windows Boot Manager no longer came up.

    To fix this, I decided to try the Vista recovery process. It worked, restored the Windows Boot Manager, but I was no longer able to boot into Windows XP nor Windows Vista. Attempting to select the "Earlier version of Windows" gave me a message that essentially told me /ntldr was "missing or corrupt". Choosing the Windows Vista option gave me a BSOD, which was understandable given Vista didn't have the drivers setup for the new motherboard and CPU. So I had to reinstall Vista from scratch, as I could not find an option anywhere within the recovery environment to repair my installation (system and image restores were useless as I needed Windows to re-detect all my hardware again). Luckily it was just a testing OS and there was nothing important on it. It does make me wonder though, what should I have done? Maybe it was fixed before Vista RTM-ed.

    Anyway, reinstalling Vista gave me access to Vista again, but still, I could not get into Windows XP; the same message appeared.

    After some digging around the internet, I found the solution:

    1. Boot up Windows Vista, and navigate to Start (the Vista orb)-> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt, then right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as Adminstrator. Either enter your password if needed or just press continue. The new window should be titled "Administrator: Command Prompt".
    2. In the command prompt, type in bcdedit /enum active and press Enter.
    3. Locate the sections titled "Windows Legacy OS Loader". Note the identifier (all of them if there is more than one matching section); my identifier was {ntldr}. If the problem is the same as mine, the device property should be currently set to unknown.
    4. Use the command bcdedit /set (ID) device boot to change unknown to boot, that is, the partition that is active and is booting from. By default, Vista does not change which partition boots, so if your XP partition is set as active, it will add the new booting code to that. Therefore assuming your XP partition is set as the active (boot) partition, the above command will be correct. Apply the above command for each identifier, replacing (ID) with the identifier itself, including the curly braces, e.g. bcdedit /set {ntldr} device boot. Press Enter after each one - it should report that the operation was completed successfully.
    5. Rerun the command in step 2 to check that the changes were applied correctly.
    6. Test!

    That should fix the problem. I assume that when the device was set to unknown, the boot manager didn't know what to do to boot that partition, hence the message.

    Microsoft has put up a handy reference for bcdedit too: http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsVista/en/library/85cd5efe-c349-427c-b035-c2719d4af7781033.mspx?mfr=true

    Note that for basic booting option changes, such as the default OS or timeout, you can run msconfig or the System Properties, Advanced tab.

    If you discover that there is no "Earlier Version of Windows" option in your boot manager at all, try these instructions (also repeated on the above Microsoft site): http://www.nukeation.net/2006/07/05/5456+Update+2++XP+Goes+Missing+After+Installing+Vista.aspx

    UPDATE (6/12/2007): Clarified some steps and fixed a few spelling errors.





Just want to give a BIG thankyou for 'Vista dual-booting "/ntldr missing or corrupt" fix'

I had the same prob as stated when I put Vista on a partition on same drive as XP, NTLDR was corrupt or missing. My Vista installation was also unstable/corrupt, due to loading on a partitiion I previously used for keeping files etc so probably very fragg'd!

Most advice on the net refers to the recovery console, I couldn't use this due to not knowing the ADMIN password (I know there are ways to get this but didn't have time or means to hunt around for this info). I tried replacing NTLDR and NTDETECT with files from CD as suggested, this didn't work for me.  I followed your instructions and bingo, problem was solved!  I was so relieved to see the XP boot up screen (pc then took about 15mins doing something with orphaned files) but eventually loaded XP and it's been fine since.

So thanks very much once again for the detail,  saved alot of stress


Posted by Pete Rowe, 9th March 2007 10:06 PM

No probs Pete, glad I could help.

I discovered something that could make the task of using bcdedit easier - VistaBootPro. Essentially, it's a graphical version of bceedit. I haven't personally used it yet, but it looks pretty good and could make this task a bit easier. It's free too btw.

It's available at: http://www.vistabootpro.org/

Posted by [edgylogic] Sam, 11th March 2007 3:55 PM

Hi, I also wanted to say thanks alot for this, I was stressing and googleing hard! then come across this little beauty....EXCELLENT !!!! up and working fine now,  Cheers ;)


Posted by Willeeee, 15th March 2007 1:29 PM

Thanks for the advice, My XP is working fine now!

Posted by CLYF, 2nd April 2007 1:37 AM

I had the same problem with the '\ntldr file missing or corrupt' message and couldn't boot XP. After searching the net, most of the solutions were a little too complicated for my liking but at least I got the gist of the cause. Since I was still able to boot Vista from its own partition, I ran a search on the XP partition for the following files:




From the sites I browsed, the cause of the problem apparently lies with these files either being missing or mislocated. When I found them (they were in C:\Windows\I386, a hidden folder, ) I just copied them to C: , rebooted then loaded XP on the boot menu screen and everything went back to normal again. No need to use the complicated Vista bcdedit. I hope this post will be of some help to others.

Posted by BJD955, 10th April 2007 5:24 AM

Sorry, I neglected to mention that my search did not turn up the Boot.ini file but it did find boot.ini.backup in another location. I copied this to C: with the other two filles, renamed it to boot.ini and this is what fixed the problem. My computer has since renamed it automatically to bootsect.bak though but the three files are still on the C: (My XP drive) where they should be, and the computer reboots normally.

That's all I did. I found my own way because I really didn't want to tamper with the bcdedit or use the command prompt or download a freeware program I wasn't sure about when there's really no need.

Posted by BJD955, 10th April 2007 5:49 AM

One further point which may or may not be of interest but on my machine, Windows XP is the active system, i.e. it was installed first. I installed Vista after creating a new partition for it so I guess my solution will only apply to similar cases. From what I read on the net, it matters which O/S is the active system.

Posted by BJD955, 10th April 2007 6:00 AM

Windows XP was my active partition too, but it sounds like in your case instead of Vista's setup changing the active partition to its own partition, it overwrote the boot bits on the Windows XP partition, or for some other reason decided to screw with the existing active partition. Maybe it was a installation setting, or just a case of the installation program being too smart for it's own good.

Thanks for posting up your experience and solution; I'm sure someone out there will find it useful.

Posted by [edgylogic] Sam, 11th April 2007 6:57 PM

Thank you. I had this problem after i had to delete the MBR of my hard drive because acronis os selector refused loading. after deleting the mbr nothing would show and i used vista cd to repair. that let me use vista althow i had serious error messages because the drive letters got screwed up. after changing the drive letter i could start vista nornally but had this problem with xp thanks to your information I saved xp too. I also want to thank Internet for making this communication availiable

Posted by Lefteris eleftheriades, 15th May 2007 3:35 AM

I had either XP or Vista available for booting at a time, but not both... this fixed it... thanks for sharing your research!

Posted by Doran, 4th June 2007 3:23 AM

fdisk /MBR

Posted by totr, 13th June 2007 8:41 PM

You're so cool ! It works ! Greaaaaaaaaaaat !  THANKS A LOTS

Posted by Antonio & Riccardo - ITALY, 26th August 2007 7:26 AM

Very Nice... I've tried everything, replacing boot.ini, ntldr etc etc. This worked perfectly the first try. Thank you so much for this guide.

Posted by Lee, 30th August 2007 11:02 PM

First, thanks to both Sam and BJD955. Here was my scenario...

- XP was installed first on a separate partition

- Vista was installed afterwards on my C: partition

- I used VistaBootPro to create another listing in the boot manager

- I kept getting "ntldr is missing" error message (It really was missing, it wasn't anywhere on my system)

- I read this page and got some great pointers

- I used my old XP installation disk, explored, and copied ntldr and ntdetect from the disk and pasted to my Vista directory (C:)

- I searched for and copied boot.ini.backup from the XP partition, renamed it boot.ini, and copied it to my Vista directory (C:)

And that's how I saved myself a few hours of troubleshooting, thanks to you guys. Hopefully there will be someone out there like me who will greaty benefit from all this info like I did.

Posted by Siilent User, 19th October 2007 1:21 PM

Thanks so much, you are great amigo,  

Posted by Victor, 7th January 2008 5:43 AM

Thanks a million, dude. I managed to ruin my ntldr while resizing my XP partition using Partion Magic. I did the usual re-copy of the XP ntldr and ntconnect.com files to no avail and twigged that the Vista install (which I dont ever use but are too afraid to uninstall (for this very reason)) might be the problem. All I needed was the method to fix it :) thanks again

Posted by keith, 25th January 2008 3:06 AM

I have a prob. regarding Windows boot manager as I have Xp installed in C partiotion and vista in D since I deleted the old installation of Xp and installed new one now instead of going towards boot manager Xp is directly booted with no option for vista or Xp please help me....

Posted by Rave, 18th June 2008 12:52 AM


Try performing the startup repair procedure:


Posted by [edgylogic] Sam, 19th June 2008 2:00 PM

Thanks so much BJD955!

Posted by Deebo, 31st July 2008 3:18 AM

That did not solved my Problem.

Posted by Rave, 31st July 2008 4:39 AM

That did not solved my Problem.

Posted by Rave, 31st July 2008 4:41 AM

I'd also like to thank you- I installed XP on a new Partition (D) on a lenovo y410 laptop with vista preinstalled. After using bootpro to set the XP drive to D I still got the missing ntldr error. After reading this page I copied the files ntdetect and ntldr from the XP cd to drive D, and now the dual boot works!

Thanks again, you put an end to 2 days of a nerve wracking battle with Microsoft junk!

Posted by Ron, 11th August 2008 3:04 AM

Same problem.  Tried to dual boot vista & xp with vista pre-installed.  Running diagnostics in vistabootpro showed that the xp drive letter wasn't assigned.  Quick fix in VBP and now all's fine.

Posted by Skazz, 11th August 2008 4:24 PM

Thanks a loooot..for your helpful tips....I got 3 days trying to make work this DUAL BOOT..scenario.. and after checking various websites ...Finally land in the RIGHT ONE.. Yours..

   Thanks again

  Now this is #1 in my Favorites...

Posted by C. Beltran, 22nd August 2008 11:43 AM

Thank you very much, Sam, for this post. In my case i installed XP on the laptop that came with preinstalled Vista and then installed VistaBootPro - the dual boot worked fine for the first day then i got that message : "/ntldr missing or corrupt". I tried to copy ntldr, ntdetect.com, boot.ini in XP partition, than reinstalled XP, tried recovery console - nothing helped. But after i did changes in Bcdedit the problem is gone. Tnaks you again.

Posted by Mila, 16th September 2008 3:30 PM

Many Thanks!

This worked smoothly and was very good described. My OS now boot as they should. 3 nights work just for a new HDD, arrgh...

Posted by MOI, 26th September 2008 2:57 AM

Thanks. Worked like a champ. You kept me from throwing a laptop across the room.

Posted by michael anderson, 8th December 2008 10:03 AM

Thanks. Worked like a champ. You kept me from throwing a laptop across the room.

Posted by michael anderson, 8th December 2008 10:03 AM

you just saved my life! thanks!!

Posted by scythie, 7th January 2009 9:39 PM


Posted by migs , 14th January 2009 8:54 PM

This is great to read, and I actually got The Boot Manager, then got the same error message and when I did actually get into Xp I had no drivers for the Network adapters so I couldnt get online to install them even.

I copied c:\Windows\system32 to d:\windows\system 32 which added any different files to the xp version but it did not help. I have a funny feeling that Vista and Xp use different drivers!!

So you know what Im gonna ask now????

How can I get drivers on to the Xp partition?

Posted by Bob A'Lee, 9th March 2009 3:15 AM


Copying the internals of Vista on to XP probably wasn't a very good idea - they're are quite different. But if your system is still booting, the easiest way to get network drivers on to your XP installation is to boot into your Vista partition, download the XP drivers to somewhere, then boot into XP, find those drivers and install them.

Alternately, download the drivers on another computer and copy them on to a USB drive.

Your computer/motherboard's website would be the place to look for drivers.

Posted by [edgylogic] Sam, 13th March 2009 2:53 PM

I tried to fix it with command prompt as you said, but i can not enter as administrator. The funny is that my computer has only one account and that i am the only one who use it, and i  don't have password...!!!

Anyway, i have a laptop with preinstalled vista, i installed xp on a partition, but it can not boot...

missing ntldr etc.

I will try to copy the files from the xp cd into my xp partition to see if xp will boot finally...

Posted by Elkaloudis, 26th March 2009 7:44 AM

gr8 it worked ....thanxs very very much...i was also facing the same problem of 'Vista dual-booting "/ntldr missing or corrupt" fix'

...i even tried vistaBootPRo software but all in vain...

finally i stopped here tried this and done!!!!!!

Posted by Vikas Patyal, 17th September 2009 10:50 PM

I have installed xp over vista in my new HP G60 laptop after great difficulty in getting drivers etc. I have installed the same in D where as my vista is in C drive. During installation, while the xp boots, I get error message NTLDR missing. I am unable to proceed further, please help.

Posted by Biju S, 21st December 2009 4:27 PM

I never ever leave feedback.

But I want to give the biggest thanks in the world.

I been trying for near to 8 hours to get something to work about this crud that wouldn't boot my darn XP up.. And you fixed my problem in less than 5 mins while the other strategies took me 30-45 mins each technique without success.... I'm amazed that the XP worked. now im testing if vista still works and i have no doubt that it wont...

JUST CLICKED THE BUTTON! and they both work. much cutos.


Posted by Viviana, 23rd June 2010 4:08 PM

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