Get the fix to boot-related error “NTDETECT is missing or not found” and other NTDETECT.COM problems for Windows XP.


About “ntdetect not found or missing”

The following information on this error has been compiled by NeoSmart Technologies, based on the information gathered and reported by our global network of engineers, developers, and technicians or partner organizations.

Description and Symptoms

The error messages, alerts, warnings, and symptoms below are tied to this error.

Symptom 1: is missing or not found, a critical component of the Windows XP boot process, is required for the correct operation of NTLDR, the Windows XP bootloader. If NTDETECT.COM is not found in the expected location, an error regarding ntdetect being not found or missing may be displayed.

Causes of this Error

This error has been known to occur as a result of one or more of the following:

Cause 1: Incorrectly-set boot disk

NTLDR expects NTDETECT.COM to be located in the root of the primary boot partition. Typically, this is the active partition on disk 0. If BIOS configuration has changed, on a system with multiple drives NTDETECT may no longer be on the first boot drive, causing NTLDR to complain that it cannot be found.

Cause 2: Changes to the active partition

As NTLDR searches for NTDETECT on the active partition of the boot drive, if the MBR of the disk in question is updated and a new partition is made active, NTLDR will search for NTDETECT.COM on this newly-active partition. If NDETECT cannot be found, then an error stating NTDETECT was not found can be displayed.

Fix NTDETECT is missing or not found in Windows

Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

Easy Recovery Essentials is guaranteed to fix the “NTDETECT is missing or not found” error automatically using its built-in Automated Repair option. EasyRE is currently available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11 and can be downloaded and created on any PC.

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials. Make sure to note your Windows version (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, or Windows 11) before you download EasyRE. This guide can help you identify what version of Windows you have installed.
  2. Burn the image. Follow these instructions on how to burn the bootable ISO image very carefully, as making a bootable CD can be tricky! Alternatively, these instructions explain how to create a bootable EasyRE recovery USB stick/drive.
  3. Boot up your PC from the Easy Recovery Essentials CD or USB you created.
  4. Once EasyRE is running, choose the “Automated Repair” option and click Continue.
    EasyRE Home

    Choose “Automated Repair” in Easy Recovery Essentials

  5. After EasyRE scans your computer’s drives, identify and select the drive letter for your Windows installation from the list, and then click on the Automated Repair button to begin.
    EasyRE displays a list of found Windows operating systems

    Choose the drive associated with the Windows installation you’re trying to repair.

  6. Easy Recovery Essentials will start analyzing the selected drive for problems. EasyRE will test for and attempt to automatically correct errors with the disk, partition, bootsector, filesystem, bootloader, and registry. No intervention is required, as EasyRE’s repair is fully automated:
    EasyRE: Automated Repair

    Easy Recovery Essentials searches for errors and makes corrections to the selected Windows installation.

  7. Once the process is complete, EasyRE will report its findings. Click on the Restart button to reboot your PC and test the changes.
  8. The “NTDETECT is missing or not found” error should now be fixed as your PC begins to load:EasyRE: Automated Repair

You can download Easy Recovery Essentials from here.

Fix #2: Restore NTDETECT.COM

Windows Setup CD/DVD Required!
Some of the solutions below require the use of the Microsoft Windows setup CD or DVD. If your PC did not come with a Windows installation disc or if you no longer have your Windows setup media, you can use Easy Recovery Essentials for Windows instead. EasyRE will automatically find and fix many problems, and can also be used to solve this problem with the directions below.

If NTDETECT.COM has become corrupted, deleted, or damaged as a result of a failed Automatic Update or Windows Update or has been the target of a virus infection, the following directions will restore a working copy from the setup CD.

If is in fact missing or corrupt, you can restore the original file back from your Windows XP installation disc.

Unable to boot into the Windows setup CD?
See our guide on setting up a PC to boot from the CD or DVD for troubleshooting and more detailed instructions.

  1. Insert your XP CD into the computer.
  2. Restart your computer.
  3. Press any key to boot into the CD when you see the “Press any key to boot from CD” message.
  4. Press R to start Recovery Console when the Options screen appears.
  5. Type in your Administrator password followed by the Enter key to submit it.
  6. You’ll reach the Command Prompt now, type the following command, where D:\ is your CD’s drive letter and C:\ is the letter of the drive you installed Windows to:
    copy D:\i386\ C:\
  7. Press Y when you are asked if you want to overwrite this file and then hit Enter to submit the command.
  8. Restart your computer.

More Information

Linked Entries

The errors below have been verified as being associated with or related to this problem:

Support Links

Applicable Systems

This Windows-related knowledgebase article applies to the following operating systems:

  • Windows XP (all editions)
  • Windows Server 2003 (all editions)

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