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having problems installing new hard drive.....NTLDR is missing

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having problems installing new hard drive.....NTLDR is missing

  • i got this dell right but i'm using this old compaq. and what i was going to do was take the other harddrive out the dell because i don't feel like downloading all my things again and i was gonna take this harddrive in this one and just put it in the other. when I do it says NTLDR is missing. Can you help? the dell's harddrive has windows NT I think. What is the best way to get my harddrive working on the dell?
  • ceros,

    Thanks for using the Dell Community Forum.

    I'm sorry but your post is rather confusing.  Can you give the specifications on both systems and also, we would need to know exactly what operating system is on both drives.


  • The issue is that when I take the hard drive out of the Dell and put this hard drive I'm using now into the Dell ( on this compaq computer), I get a NTLDR is missing error. The OS on this compaq is windows XP and the OS on Dell hard drive is Windows 2000 pro. System specs for the Dell are a 1.4 gig P4 and 512 SDRAM and the system specs for this compaq is 700 mhz AMD Duron and 258 SDRAM. The Dell hard drive is 40 GB(which is a Seagate) and this one on this compaq is a Western Digital and has 20 GB. Can you help me? 

  • ceros,

    I'm not sure but you might want to check with Compaq and see if they do anything special with their drives and how they actually write the operating system to the drive.  It's sounding as though there is something there specific for the Compaq system.

  • I am having a similar problem.

    I have a hard drive with WindowsXP installed on it. (Have been using this hard drive for some time.)

    Recently, I tried swapping the above hard drive with the hard drive in my dell XPS B933.
    (The hard drive in my dell has Windows2000.) But I get the NTLDR is missing message.
    So I moved the hard drive back to its PC and it worked fine.

    So I moved it to my Dell pc, again, and I got the NTLDR is missing message, again.
    Basically, all that is different is the motherboard and the processor.

    Is there something that I can do to get  this fixed?
    I tried the recovery console and ran fixboot (haven't tried fixmbr), but that didn't work.
    Tried copying ntldr, ntdetect.com from WindowsXP CD, didn't work.

    Help me, please!
    Haven't slept much trying to get this to work.


  • You have two basic issues, first is Compaq as they are prone to do very odd things with the drives and the Dell one may not work.

    More significant is the chipset on the motherboards. Although XP is a Plug n Play O/S it is based around NT which isn't so certain devices have the drivers loaded before the rest of the system is installed, the key one is the IDE chipset. If the o/s isinstalled with one chipset it will not look for an alternative driver on subsequent boots. This is because it does not have the equivalent of the "compatability mode" that win9x uses in the same situation during startup.

    It is possible to move a drive from one chipset to another but it is not always succesful and is dependant on the installer. What you want to be able to do is preload the drivers for the new motherboard while the drive is still in the old system before moving the drive. This is possible if all the installer does is copy the drivers to the relevant location irrespective of the actual hardware.

    The difficulty I had was with the Intel driver utility as this checks for the existance of the hardware before copying the files and of course as I have said you want to do this before the move so the software drops out without installing anything.

    There is one other cause of the message and that is down to drive configurations. XP (NT) will allow you to boot from any partition that is in your system during o/s installation. However it does this by modifying the master boot record and creating a file called boot.ini on the primary active partition, the one that would be the boot drive on win9x system. This points the startup process to the actual system drive, be it E or F or whatever the case may be. If your changes affect the drive allocations then the boot.ini would be wrong. Obviously if all you are doing is swapping one "C" drive for another then this is not the case but watch out for "hidden" diagnostic partitions, something both Dell and Compaq use but not all the time and certainly not cross compatable.



  • If you are trying to "Copy" the files from your old hard drive to your new hard drive, setup the old hard drive as a Slave drive to the primary.  Otherwise, if you are trying to use it as a new primary drive, do a "soft" windows install (Reinstall the OS without Formating the drive) and the only thing you'll need to do is reinstall all your applications without losing any of your data.

    NTLDR is the Windows Boot file for WinNT/2k/XP.  If the hard drives are not properly mounted with WinXP/NT/2K, Windows won't load, because it won't be able to find the loader file.


    Hope this helps.

  • I gave up...I'm going to take it to Best Buy or something so they can help me. Does anyone here have aol intstant messenger so I can talk to them?
  • Take your Compaq Hard Drive and configure it to be a "Slave" Hard Drive.  Hook it up to your Dell as the 2nd Hard Drive on the IDE cable.  Boot up your Dell and go into your Setup (f2 at the Dell screen with the blue bar) and then go into the IDE devices and set the 2nd Primary Device  to Auto detect.  Then, save your settings and it will reboot.  Once you get into Windows, your old Compaq drive should come up as a drive letter.  Transfer what you need, and then shut off the computer, and undo the two steps above (Configuration and Placement).

    This will save you the $100 BestBuy/CompUSA will ask for to transfer all your old data to your new computer.

  • What it all amounts to is that you're going to have to end up reinstalling Windows when you get the hard drive you want into the machine you want.

    There's no real way around that other that the option above of copying your data to the new hard drive from the old one.