Get the fix to the NTLDR is corrupt boot error message affecting Windows XP.

About the “NTLDR is corrupt” error

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: NTLDR is corrupt error screen on startup

When a computer is turned on, the BIOS picks an eligible, bootable hard drive and then calls code stored in the MBR at the start of that hard drive. That MBR code in turn loads the bootsector from the active partition. On Windows XP, this bootsector code is tasked with loading NTLDR (the Windows XP bootloader) and its dependencies, which are used to load the operating system kernel and start up Windows. The NTLDR file is normally located in the root directory of the active partition on the first boot drive. However, if the NTLDR file or any of its dependencies are corrupt, the loading process halts and the “NTLDR is corrupt” error screen appears.

For more information on how computers start up and how the Windows XP boot process works, please refer to the respective pages in our extensive wiki and knowledgebase.

NTLDR is corrupt error screen

NTLDR is corrupt. The system cannot boot.

Causes of this Error

This error has been known to occur as a result of the following cause:

Cause 1: NTLDR-related files are corrupt

On Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows 2003 Server this error may appear if any of boot-related files(Ntldr, Ntdetect.com and Boot.ini) are missing or corrupt. These files are normally hidden and system protected, but they can still go bad because of user errors, power outages, or virus attacks.

Fixing “NTLDR is corrupt” on Windows

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.

Fix #1: Rebuild NTLDR via Easy Recovery Essentials

Easy Recovery Essentials’ one-click automated system repair corrects issues caused by misconfigured NTLDR bootloader files by recreating them from scratch on the active bootable partition for Windows XP, 2000 and 2003 Server. Alternatively, on newer versions of Windows, EasyRE writes the correct bootsector code to the partition to make sure that the newer BOOTMGR bootloader is correctly installed and configured. This is done automatically as part of the automated repair process, and requires no manual action or user intervention.

Easy Recovery Essentials is guaranteed to fix the “NTLDR is corrupt” error automatically using its built-in Automated Repair option. EasyRE is currently available for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and can be downloaded and created on any PC.

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials. Make sure to note your Windows version (XP, Vista, 7 or 8) 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 “NTLDR is corrupt” error should now be fixed as your PC begins to load:
    EasyRE: Automated Repair

    Windows, booting up successfully.

You can download Easy Recovery Essentials from here.

Fix #2: Replace NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM files

Windows XP users can replace the required files for NTLDR to load correctly by using your Windows Installation Disc. The files are named NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM.

Here are the steps to replace these files:

  1. Insert the Windows XP install CD in your CD drive
  2. Restart the PC and boot from the CD
  3. Press any key to boot from the CD
  4. Press R after the Windows Options menu is done loading to access Repair Console
  5. After this step, log into Windows by pressing 1 using the Administrator password
  6. Use the following commands to copy the NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM files from the Windows installation disk to the hard disk:
    copy D:\i386\ntldr C:\
    copy D:\i386\ntdetect.com C:\

    Where D:\ is the install CD’s drive letter and C:\ is the Windows XP partition’s drive letter

  7. Once these files are copied, remove the Windows installation disc from the disc drive
  8. Restart the PC

Here is an example of what the PC’s console output should look like once NTLDR and NTDETECT files are properly restored:

Replacing ntldr and ntdetect.com files

Replacing ntldr and ntdetect.com files

Fix #3: Rebuild boot.ini file

The next steps are to rebuild the boot.ini file:

  1. Insert the Windows XP install CD in your CD drive
  2. Restart the PC and boot from the CD
  3. Press any key to boot from the CD
  4. Press R after the Windows Options menu is done loading to access Repair Console
  5. After this step, log into Windows by pressing 1 using the Administrator password
  6. Enter the following command when Command Prompt appears:
    bootcfg /rebuild
  7. When the systems prompts about whether it should add an identified Windows installation to the boot list, answer “Y”(Yes)
  8. Enter “Windows XP” as Load Identifier and “/fastdetect” as OS Load Options.
  9. Remove the install CD
  10. Restart the PC

Here is an example of what the PC’s console output should look like once the boot.ini file is properly restored:

Fixing Boot.ini file

Fixing Boot.ini file

More Information

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Applicable Systems

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

  • Windows XP (all editions)

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