Courtesy of my red-headed step-computer:

Issue

NTLDR is Missing.
Related errors

Below are the full error messages that may be seen when the computer is booting.

NTLDR is Missing
Press any key to restart

Boot: Couldn’t find NTLDR
Please insert another disk

NTLDR is missing
Press Ctrl Alt Del to Restart
Causes

Computer is booting from a non-bootable source.
Computer hard disk drive is not properly setup in BIOS.
Corrupt NTLDR and NTDETECT.COM file.
Misconfiguration with the boot.ini file.
Attempting to upgrade from a Windows 95, 98, or ME computer that is using FAT32.
New hard disk drive being added.
Corrupt boot sector / master boot record.
Seriously corrupted version of Windows 2000 or Windows XP.
Loose or Faulty IDE/EIDE hard disk drive cable.
Failing to enable USB keyboard support in the BIOS.

When the computer started malfunctioning, I feared it would be something easy to fix. Which is an odd thing to think, when I have spent twenty hours or so over the last week or two trying to get the computer back up and running. I had to do a complete Format & Restore because under the previous installation, tasks that should take seconds were taking minutes. I had hoped, upon reinstallation of Windows, that the problem would come right back.

Because then I would be done. Done, done, done.

This computer has been a pain since I very first got it. It’s required more attention than all my other computers combined. It had shifted from my second machine to my fourth by the end of its fourth year, passed up by computers five years older than it that had the virtue of actually doing what it was supposed to do (albeit at a considerably slower pace). But it never gave me an excuse to just junk it. Like the slowest kid in the classroom, I simply gave it the most rudimentary assignments with high malfunction thresholds (so if it locked up or something, it wouldn’t be a big deal).

But now it’s dead. Dead, dead, dead.

I mean, I could go through all of the various things, test this and that, and isolate the precise problem. And I confess a little piece of me is tempted. Just to get it back up and running. But perhaps the greatest irony in all of this is that I was going to need to permanently sideline it anyway. I’m building a new computer. The computer to end all computers (until it’s obsolete, of course). And that made for five computers in a KVM switch with only four slots. Once I got Windows reinstalled, the plan was to just stick it in a closet, not touch it again, and hope that it gets demolished in the next move.

In retrospect, I realize that this is kind of irrational. Not the least of which because, by salvaging the parts that excludes the motherboard, I will be saving about $300 on the new computer. And taking the slightest step back, I realize that the motherboard-processor aren’t worth a fifth of that, which is what I would effectively be paying to keep this computer operational, unplugged, sitting in a closet and waiting to die.

Of course, the thought occurs to me that I am 95% sure that the problem is the motherboard. I think the processor is fine. If I were to just replace the motherboard, it would probably be as good as…

Therein my madness lies. Not this time, though.

If I were really sincere, I would be looking at the computers I got in 2001 and junking those rather than going to the trouble of replacing the fan on the one that needs that and the case on the one that needs that.

I’m not quite that sincere at this juncture.


Category: Server Room

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6 Responses to The Most Beautiful Error In The World

  1. Samson J. says:

    You know, Vista took so much flak for so many reasons, but my Dell Vista laptop has had zero problems, to the point that I don’t even know what the Vista BSOD looks like, because I’ve never seen it.

  2. trumwill says:

    To clarify something irrelevant, but this is not a BSOD error. It hits before the OS even starts loading (like if you have a corrupt hard drive that it can’t read the OS from).

    I had some of the problems with Vista that I guess you didn’t. I never got a BSOD or anything, but did had application lockups that did not exist before. I figured that was something that would change as more and more applications started coding for Vista, but by the time Win7 came around, there was really no need to find out.

    I do have Vista on one computer. Notably, I use Vista because it is the only operating system that works on that particular computer (Win7 might, but this was before Win7’s release). WinXP randomly reboots and Linux locks up. It’s a pain, though, because the computer was made way before Vista and Vista taxes its resources something fierce.

  3. no more mr nice guy says:

    NTLDR is the program that load Windows at the beginning of the boot process. It means the boot program cannot find either NTLDR or NTDETECT.COM. Have you tried to copy them from another computers running the same operating system or the installation or backup CD ? Maybe there are bad sectors on the hard drive.

    For the other computer that run Vista, if you use the Windows 7 upgrade advisor ( http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=20 ), you will know if it can run Windows 7. I just upgraded from XP to Windows 7 and I had to update many programs.

  4. trumwill says:

    Have you tried to copy them from another computers running the same operating system or the installation or backup CD

    Nope. Because, if that works, I’m screwed. My first thing was actually to plug in the smaller hard drive I used to use with that computer (so most of the drivers would be installed and so on). But that might work, demonstrating a problem with the hard drive, or might not work, demonstrating a motherboard problem. If it works, I can’t throw it out. If it doesn’t work, I will feel the compulsion to take the next step and finish what I started.

    Good to know about that upgrade advisor. My main concern with the computer that runs vista is a matter of resource usage and just the PITA of upgrading a computer with a Pentium II processor that struggles to keep up.

    You really seem to know your stuff, Nomore. I probably should have picked your brain before ordering the new computer stuff yesterday. What are your thoughts on AMD Phenom II X6 vs Intel Core i5 X4?

  5. no more mr nice guy says:

    I didn’t know it was possible to run Vista on Pentium II, it must very slow.

    For the AMD Phenom II vs Intel Core i5, I don’t know. I know that AMD processors (and motherboard using them) are cheaper than Intel ones and from what I’ve read, there’s no big difference in speed unless you overclock them. The one I have is an AMD Athlon dual core 2.2Ghz, I have it since four years and it was very cheap – that’s why I purchased it.

  6. trumwill says:

    I didn’t know it was possible to run Vista on Pentium II, it must very slow.

    It’s not pretty, but it works better than I would have expected. I used it as the TV PC for a while. The trick is to make sure that you don’t have many windows open at once.

    For the AMD Phenom II vs Intel Core i5,

    Yeah, I’ve historically gone with AMD for that reason. Comparable processors at a much better price. I’ve heard that at some point Intel started running laps around AMD and so a low-to-middle Intel is better than high-end AMD. In any event, I went with AMD. We’ll see how it goes.

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