Dual Boot XP-Win7 Can't start up in XP - NTLDR missing or corrupt error

I have a PC that's been working just fine 'til yesterday.  I was booted up into Win7 ... and it locked up tighter than a drum ... didn't recognize ctrl-alt-del, esc, or a right-click on the start bar.  The only option was to do a hard shutdown by holding down the on/off switch.

When I started it up, it didn't start, but instead said it was missing NTLDR, or that it was corrupt.  I broke out the Win7 DVD and used it to start up the PC and went to the repair options.  I tried the start up repair ... no success. I tried a few other options on the menu with out success.  I finally told it to restore it to a previous date using a backup.  Well ... that let me into the Win7 side ... but so far I've still been unsuccessful at getting it to start up on the XP side.

When I boot into Win7 (it's the C: drive, and XP becomes the D: drive), I can see the XP partition files on the D: drive.  In searching the D: drive, there was NO NTLDR file on the drive.  So, I popped in the XP Pro CD and copied the NTLDR file from i386 folder to D:\.  When I did, it said it was already there (I have my folder options set to display hidden system files), even though, it was nowhere to be seen.  I told it to replace the current one with the one I was copying ... and it appeared in the root of D.  NTDETECT.com was also not appearing in D:\, so I copied that from the i386 folder to D:\.  Again, though I couldn't find NTDETECT.com via search of D:\, when I went to copy NTDETECT.com to D:\ it asked me if I wanted to replace the existing copy.  I said yes, and then NTDETECT.com appeared in the root of D.  Also missing was the boot.ini file.  I found a backup of that file in the Windows\pss folder.  Similarly, though there was no such file at D:\, when I told it to copy the file to D:\ it asked me if I wanted to replace the existing copy.  I said yes.  I now have what should be good copies of NTLDR, NTDETECT.com and Boot.ini at the root of D.  However, I still can't boot into XP ... it says that NTLDR is either missing or corrupt.

In my search online, one article indicated that I should have a copy of NTLDR, NTDETECT.com and Boot.ini on the Win7 partition so it would recognize WinXP ... but again, that didn't work either ... I still get the missing/corrupt NTLDR error when I select Windows XP during startup.

Anybody got any idea as to how I can fix this so I can get to my XP partition?  Oh ... and one other anomoly ... when I use the Win7 DVD to access the 'repair' processes, it only sees the Win7 operating system ... it doesn't see the WinXP operating system.  Is that the way it's supposed to work?  Is it only supposed to see just the Win7 operating system on its partition ... and not see any other operating systems on other partitions?

Question Info

Last updated November 30, 2017 Views 7,167 Applies to:

Well, Drive L was definitely part of the problem.  I transferred the files to a different drive, and then I reformatted the drive leaving it as a "logical drive."  When I went to restart ... it wouldn't restart at all.  Nothing I could do from the Win7 repair procedures would fix the drive.  All I'd get when restarting was an error message after it asked if you wanted to start from the CD that said "Error loading OS."   When using the startup repair applet from the Win7 Repair application, it continually said it fixed a "Partition table does not have a valid system partition" error ... but that "fix" never really took.

Using PartitionWizard, I noticed that the active partition was showing as the XP partition (P1) and not the Win7 (P2) ... so I changed P2 to be the active partition.  Then, I shut down, pulled the power and connections to the 2 other internal drives, pulled out everything connected to a USB connector with the exception of my keyboard/mouse dongle, and restarted.  That finally let me get past the startup from a CD/DVD? inquiry and to the boot manager where I could get into Windows 7.  That gave me access to my mail ... and I finally got an my activation email from NeoSmart.  Went there and downloaded EasyBCD v2.0 ... which allowed me to fix the bootmanager.  I can now get into both Windows 7 and XP.

What a 24hr+ nightmare!  Have no idea what screwed up the boot manager .. and worse ... what changed my data drive (L) to a system drive?????  You can bet your bottom dollar that I'll be making sure I have up-to-date backups of each partition after I make sure everything on both partitions is totally back up-to-date.  Then ... and only then .... will I reconnect the internal drives and close it back up.

Thanks for the help.

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