"Windows did not start successfully" to "ntldr is missing"

Hello all.

First off, I am in no means acquainted with any troubleshooting or fancy thing outside of everyday computer usage, so please respond as if you are talking to a dummy. :) I do have fairly decent common sense and Google skill however, which has given me enough confidence to try and fix this issue on my own.

Basically, one day I start my computer (running Windows XP Professional SP3) up and get a black screen saying:

"We apologize for the inconvenience, but Windows did not start successfully. A recent hardware or software change might have caused this

Start in safe mode.
Safe mode with networking.
Safe mode with command prompt.
Last known good configuration setting (most recent setting that worked).
Start Windows normally."

For a few times, I was able to get Windows working with the last two options, but before I could dedicate time to fix the issue, it became so that none of these options worked, and I got caught in a restart cycle with this screen. Last things that I can recall that may have caused this: Windows Update or CCleaner Registry Fix (just something I do sometimes to make sure everything is working, nothing was wrong prior).

I bought an external HDD enclosure with hopes of popping my internal into it, and saving my stuff onto my laptop before messing around. Oddly, in My Computer, the 2 drive icons (a System Recovery one, and my Main one) would flash for a few seconds, every few minutes, and when I'd quickly click them, it'd say they don't exist.

So I plug my drive back into my tower, and go for a System Recovery. I know nothing about DOS or commands or all that, so following Google, I did a "chkdisk /r". Same problem. Went there again, did a "fixmbr". Same problem. Did a "fixboot". Seemed to be successful in whatever that does, but now when starting, I get a "ntldr is missing" message.

I hoped with the boot fixes I could get my internal to work properly on my laptop as an external now. The drive icon stays this time, but I click it, and it appeared to have turned into a 3GB FAT drive with a few icons with weird characters for names. It originally is a 180 GB NTFS drive.

I read about the ntldr thing online, try the whole "copy h:\i386\ntldr c:" thing, it doesn't work. THAT'S WHEN I REALIZE, I was using a XP Home CD for the System Recovery instead of an XP Professional (which my computer runs). Does it even make a difference though? Anyway, I do have a copied XP Pro CD that I popped in thinking I can just overwrite the boot files and all that stuff again and it should be OK, but when my drive shows up in the menu to select, to repair or install, etc. it's just that 3GB little FAT partition, and not my entire drive (which was originally an NTFS). Furthermore, I can't even get into a DOS menu with this CD so that I can do those commands again or copy ntldr, because there isn't really a repair option. When I hit F2 at the beginning to "System Recovery", it asks for an Auto System Recovery Diskette or something, which I don't have - I don't even have a floppy drive.

So with all that said:

All I really want to do is get my files off my internal and onto my laptop, but it reads my internal as that small 3GB partition with messed up files. What's the issue here? Do I need to repair the boot files and all that with this diskette thing that I guess comes with an authentic copy of WinXP Pro?

My laptop runs the exact same OS as my desktop (the one with the problems), and I was thinking, is there a way I can copy the appropriate boot and ntldr files and maybe put them onto a USB or something? Can anyone outline where to get them from if so?

Also, I was thinking because my XP Pro CD is copied (for home use only, can't find the original) , is it possible it wouldn't have the System Recovery portion on it, and I should try a legit copy? That's just me thinking out on a limb... Can anyone with a legit copy clarify if it's the same like what I said? That there is no option for System Recovery without the disk...

As the main objective here is to recover personal files, feel free to suggest possible recovery options I can try on my laptop while the internal is plugged in as an external, though bare in mind it's only read as the small partition 3GB FAT drive.

Apologies for the essay-long post, I'm trying to be clear as possible from the get go.

Please remember to respond with as clear and easy to follow instructions as possible, as I am treading foreign territories here.

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
BTW if it IS in fact possible to copy certain files from my laptop's OS, I just realized I can probably just copy those files into the desktop internal (when plugged in as an external) instead of going through the whole DOS thing? But keep in mind, that's the small 3GB partition, so I don't know if that would even work. Unless putting those boot files on that small partition, will help open up the rest of the drive. Not sure how that works.

EDIT: Apologies for the double post, just saw the "edit" button.


Posts: 14   +0
if you are still around
putting the boot files on that 3GB partition will most likely not help you

if you can still see the other part of the hard drive there are some hoops to jump through in order to get access to your files

windows very helpfully will not allow you to access the files in the documents folder of the old hard drive right off the bat. in odrer to do that you will need to go into the security settings for the old drive and reset permissions.
for XP home:
EITHER: start in safe mode and continue with below instructions from number 3.
XP pro instructions:

1. Log in as an administrator
2. in my computer, choose folder options, click on the view tab, scroll right to the bottom of the 'advanced settings' section and ensure 'user simple file sharing (recommended)' is deselected. OK it.
3. right click on the drive that you want to take ownership of (in my computer) and choose properties
4. click on the 'security' tab
5. click the 'advanced' button
6. click the 'Owner' tab
7. under 'change owner to:' select your username
8. check the 'replace owner on subcontainers and objects'
9. click Apply (may take some time)
10. click on the 'Permissions' tab
11. click the 'add' button
12. type 'everyone' for all users to be able to access the drive. Type your user name just for yourself. OK it.
13. click the 'full control' checkbox under 'allow.' OK it.
14. check the 'replace permission entries on all child objects...' checkbox
15. OK it (result may take some time)
16. OK the last window
17. Enjoy

the process is similar on all windows OSes