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Mr. Clark, Computer Engineer
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Experience:  Computer Repair Business Owner & Specialist / CIS Degree
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My PC will not boot, NTLDR is missing . I have the original

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My PC will not boot, "NTLDR is missing". I have the original installation/reinstallation CDs but the PC does not recognise that the CD ROM or CD/RW drives are installed (the D and E drives) - it only recognises the floppy drive. I therefore have two problems, not just one.

I can get to the F2 and F12 set up menus, so I have tried rebooting floppy drive first in the boot sequence but it will not boot with a diskette in the drive and will not boot to the point where it asks for a diskette to be inserted.

It is a Dell Dimension Desktop 4600, bought direct from Dell Online in July 2003. When running, the OS is Windows XP Home Edition.

Can you help please? If so, how much will it cost? Many thanks.

Jinny Duncan - Wiltshire, UK.

Thanks for choosing Just Answer.


surely, the error message can be taken care of with the discs. Howeevr, we need to fix the cd drive issue first.


please restart the system and press F2 on Dell Logo.

in the system setup go to boot menu and check if you are able to see the option for IDE or cd drive.


if yes select the device and make it the first boot device.


if the IDE CD drive option is not visible at all then it is an issue wherein the cd drive is not getting detected. in that case, it can be fixed by refixing the cd drive cables to ensure a secure physical connection.

to do so turn off the system, unplug the power cord and open the system tower.

you can refer to below link that has steps to do the same.


once done, plug the power cord back in and then turn the unit on and press F2 on dell logo and in system setup, reset the bios and check if drive gets detected.


once the drive gets detected you need to insert the Windows XP OS CD and let the system boot from cd drive.


you can refer to below link that has step by step images of windows installation.


do feel free to ask in case you face any difficulty and i will surely assist you

Edited by Michelle on 7/19/2010 at 12:43 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I have opened the tower, and I can see the cables attached to the D and E drives but I cannot unpug them - I think I am wary of pulling too hard. There are two yellow cables and a black and a red, all plugged into a combined white jack plug - is that white plug what I should be unplugging? There is not a lot of room inside my tower, and there are a lot of cables. The two lots of cables from the D & E drives appear to be joined via two P6 adaptors and there is one plug going into the hard drive. Should I be unplugging that instead? There is also a 2" wide type of ribbon cable that I don't want to damage, but it is intertwined with all the red black and yellow cables.



the white jack is the power connector to the drive that ensures power supply to teh cd drive.

when you turn on the system, if you see a light flash on the cd drive that means the cd drive is getting that scenario, you need not unplug the white jack.


the ribbon cable is the one that makes your drive communicate with the computer.


we do not have to pull the cables but the connector itself....that is the white jack in case of power and the plasic connector that has the ribbo cable inserted in it.

it would be bit hard to plug them out but if you hold the connector from one hand and apply little force it will come out easily.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have unplugged and replugged in the three jack plugs: the one to the D drive, the E drive and hard drive. The light now shows on the top one (D drive) when I turn on the power, but not the second one, the E drive. I still get the NTLDR is missing message.

In System Set up, (F12 boot menu, option 5), I have reset the date and time, but the remaining options are as follows:

Drive Configuration:

Drive A - 3.5", 1.44mb

SATA Primary Drive set to AUTO, but shows Unknown Device. Same for SATA Secondary Drive, Primary Master Drive shows Hard Drive (is also set to AUTO, capacity 40000MB), Primary Slave Drive, Secondary Master Drive and Secondary Slave drive all show Unknown Device, and all are set to AUTO.

IDE Drive UDMA is set to ON.

Hard disk drive sequence is 1. System BIOS boot devices, 2 USB device (not installed)

Boot sequence I have set to 1. CD ROM device (not installed) 2. Hard disk Drive C,XXXXX/p>

Memory Information: Installed System Memory 2048 MB DDR SDRAM, System Memory Speed 333MHz, System Memory Channel Mode Single, AGP Aperture 128MB

CPU info: Speed Normal, Bus Speed 533MHz, Processort ID F27, Clock Speed 2.40 GHz, Cache size 512 KB

Integrated Devices are all on (Sound, Network Interface controller, Mouse Port, USB Emulation and controller, Serial Port 1 is Auto, Parallel Port is set to Mode is P/S2. I/O Address 378h; Diskette Interface is Auto, Primary Video Controller is AGP; Power Management is set to Suspend S3, I have just reset AC Power Recovery to On and Enabled Low Pwer Mode; System Security, Kyboard Number loco is On and Keyboard Error Reporting is on.

Sounds like I still need to get the PC to recognise the D drive. What next?



press the num lock, caps lock and scroll lock keys on keyboard so that all the 3 lights are on.

on the system setup screen, press Alt + E,

then press Alt + F

press Es twice and say yes to save changes.

let the system restart and see if this makes any difference.



Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Done. Pressed Escape, yes to save changes, then escape again and it restarted.


On performing automatic IDE configuration:

Primary Master: Disk Drive


NTLDR is missing

Press Cntrl+Alt+Del to restart


This is the same message I keep getting. The NT loader file is presumably missing, and I can't reload from CD is the PC does not recognise my CD drives.


What next?



Now all you need to do is follow the os reinstallation insert the disk in the drive close the tray and now restart the computer press the F12 to boot from the cd and follow the installation guide


Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Is not booting from the cd rom drive.

Disk is in the drive


Boot Options on F12 are

1. Normal

2. Primary Master Drive

3. Diskette drive

4. Hard-disk Drive C

5. System Set up (Boot sequence still only shows Diskette drive and Hard drive)

6. IDE Drive diagnostics

7. Boot to utility partition

This looks like the cd drive is not being recognised by the bios you have to recheck the connection one more time and then try.

If you have another bootable disk try to boot with that disk and see if it does howver it wont as it is not listed in the bios.

Edited by Michelle on 7/19/2010 at 3:33 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have unplugged the three jack pugs again, P9 was in the D drive, P8 was in the E drive and P3 was plugged into the hard drive.


There are three other connectrs on the circuit that are not plugged in anywhere, they have caps on - P4, P5 and P6. (I cannot see anything marked P7, or P1 or P2)


There is another smaller jack plug, hidden behind where the ribbon cable goes into the E drive, so I have unplugged and replugged that one in this time as well, as I missed it before.


Now when I plug the tower back in, I only get orange stand by power light, and it does not power up at all. Could I have put something back wrong?



do you have a internal modem card insalled in the computer if yes remove the cafd and then boot.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

i dont know, how can I tell?


My son might know but he is not home from work till 5pm (British Summertime).

well in that case we can wait for him..just tell him to check in case their is a modem card to remove can post me the results and i will assist you further on this

ideally the modem card would be locatedin a slot besides the white colored can get it checked by your son and let us know.

Edited by Michelle on 7/20/2010 at 12:38 PM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have replied yesterday to say that my modem connection is built in, it looks to be hardwired into the motherboard, and it is not removable.


What next?


If I have to take my tower into a PC hardware shop, then please just say so. I won't mark you negative as it is not your fault, but please let me know if you think there is no remedy I can do myself. If you just don't reply any more, then I will have to mark you negative.



the cd drive is not getting recognised in that case and would require a hardware check

you can take the unit to a reapir shop for the same

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

OK, thanks.


Do I still have to "Accept Answer", or not. There does not seem to be any other option. I appreciate your efforts anyway.

you can accept if you wish to reward my time and effort .

thanks for choosing just answer

Hi there, and welcome to JustAnswer


Before you give up, when you start the computer and keep tapping F8, do you see a menu?


Keep tapping it till the menu or the error appears please

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

It is booting straight to the error message that says NTLDR is missing, Press Cntrl+Alt+Delete to restart.


I restarted and kept tapping F8 but I did not get a menu at all. I just got the error message, nothing else. Is F8 the key that usually gives you the option to start in Safe Mode, amongst other options?


I can get the Dell logo screen that usually appears first on booting up, but the only options it shows in the top right hand corner are F2 System Setup and F12 Boot Device Menu. I can get to both of these, but I get nothing on F8, it just goes straight to the error message.




Is there a floppy in the floppy drive? If yes, then please take it out. that might be giving this error.


Also please tell me, while the computer is ON and you press eject button on both the drives does any one of them eject out?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.



No there was no diskette in the floppy drive.


Both of the CD drives D and E eject out when the computer is on.


The D drive had a CD still in it, which I have removed, and rebooted, pressing F8 repeatedly while booting. It went to the manufacturer's copyright screen with Phoenix and Dell copyright details, underneath that it says "Keyboard failure" (which is new only started saying this now, although keyboard must be working as on booting up other times I can use the F2 and F12 keys.)


Underneath that is the error message:


NTLDR is missing

Press Cntrl+Alt+Delete to restart

Pressing F8 will not achieve anything, as for this to work the OS has to load first. The NTLDR is a gateway for the OS to the computer. So basically, your Windows XP is not loading.


You said that the PC does not see the CD ROM drives, Did you check it under the BIOS or while in XP? Are you comfortable opening the tower?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have opened the tower, to take the action first recommended by your colleague, ie unplugging the jack plugs taking the cables into the two CD drives, and into the hard drive. Then plugging them back in again, to try and make the computer recognise the CD drives.


The BIOS does not recognise or detect the CD drives, either of them - when I go to System Set up, and try and reorder the boot sequence to load from CD, the only options I have are the hard drive and the floppy. See the beginning of this post, I have set out everything from the System Set up and the Boot Menu. Any suggestions you have, I will try. I have small hands and am very careful not to touch anything else inside the tower. But I do not want to try and do anything with the ribbon cable or the hardwiring, as I don't really know what I am doing there - jack plugs are simple and more or less idiotproof.


I can recognise most of the internal components and I can follow instructions over the phone if I have to do something with the partitions, like reformatting. But that would be very drastic, and my backup discs are over a year old so I would lose recent data if that was necessary. I have not made any backup discs since October 2008.


It is because of the initial problem of not detecting the CD drives that I cannot reinstall the original CDs that I still have from when I bought the PC in July 2003. Is there any other way to reload the NTLRD and NTdetect files? Or do I have to take my tower to a workshop and see if they can remove and reinstall the CD drives, to see if that works.


Thank you for your help, should I keep trying and if so what should I do next?

I understand that you have already tried steps suggested earlier to get the CDs drive recognized. However, it is also very unlikely that both the drives go bad at the same time. So obviously there something wrong either with the connection between the drives and the motherboard or the BIOS in the PC itself. T/S this problem would definitely require you to disconnect and reconnect the data(ribbon) cables. If you do it one at at time there is no place for error. It is simply a question of taking the cable out and putting it back in. Let me know if you are comfortable with that I will guide you through.


I wish we could use floppy drive to copy NTLDR on the hard drive of the PC. We simply cannot as the old DOS of the floppy would not talk to latest file systems and thus cannot copy or paste anything.


The only solution left in case the CD dive it not recognized in your PC, is to take the hard drive out, connect it to some other PC and put the required files on it or to connect an external CDROM drive to your computer.


let me know your thoughts,


and PLEASE if you can, gimme some time as it is 5 AM in my part of the world and I need to retire now.



Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I am happy to give you time, it was 12.38am in my part of the world when I last replied to you, it is now just after 1pm.


I have removed the ribbon cable that starts on the D drive, loops into a connector in the E drive, then goes on down to join what I believe is the motherboard via connection point there. And I have plugged it back in and rebooted. And I now have the boot menu that includes booting from the IDE CD-ROM device at Number 5! System Setup is relegated to number 6.


On booting naturally it now stops at the Dell logo screen and gives me the option of F2 or F12, for Set up or Boot Menu. System Set up is set to boot from the IDE CD-ROM drive.


If I go to the Boot Menu and ask it to boot from the CD ROM drive, it says "Press F1 to continue or F2/F12 for set up" . Then the error message "NTLDR is missing, Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart" comes up. It therefore appears that even though it now recognises that there is a CD ROM drive installed, it is not booting from it. The XP Reinstallation CD is in the CD drive.


The Dell logo screen eventually disappears and goes to the copyright details screen, below which it now says:

"Primary Drive 1 not found

SATA Primary Drive 0 not found

SATA Secondary Drive 0 not found

Alert! OS Install Mode enabled. Amount of available memory restricted to 256MB

Press F1 to continue or F2 for set up mode"


FYI: My son did install additional memory some months ago as part of his basic computer course but I do not believe it was configured thereafter as it did not show in my PC information.


The ribbon cable I unplugged was the one from the CD drives to the motherboard, and it felt quite loose on the motherboard connection and came out very easily. Having replaced that one, it now feels more secure. I dont propose to do anything with the floppy drive ribbon cable or the hard drive ribbon cable for the moment as they may be OK.



I was reading over this thread, and I just wanted to throw in my opinion.

The Dell Dimension 4600 is a model that is over 6+ years old. Most PCs are built to last between 3-4 years. The symptoms you have listed are those of a failing motherboard. There is either a short or the power just isn't being distributed completely or correctly to its destinations. This was evident when you "unplugged" Drive D and used that power source for the IDE CD-ROM. The reason for the NTLDR is when the PC cannot find the boot partition. Based on the information you have given, the reason your PC cannot find the boot partition isn't because of the hard drive not getting the proper amount of power.

This is my professional opinion based on the information you have provided and the steps that have been taken.

Basically, I would recommend getting a new PC. This one has run its course.
Mr. Clark, Computer Engineer
Category: Computer
Satisfied Customers: 3214
Experience: Computer Repair Business Owner & Specialist / CIS Degree
Mr. Clark and other Computer Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

I have taken it into the local workshop, who have quoted me an hour's work tops, probably £40 to £50. I am accepting your colleague's answer because they helped me to get the PC to recognise the CD ROM drive, which was a separate fault. You have just said it's old it must be dead - I too am old but I am not yet dead! Considering a new PC would cost me £hundreds, repair is my only option. If the workshop tell me my PC is now obsolete, then I will have to do without for a while and keep borrowing my son's. Thank you and your colleagues for your help, and I trust you don't mind me getting a second opinion.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Michelle: I am accepting your answer, not your colleague Mr Clark, as you did more work for me and helped with the CD ROM problem, as explained above in my reply to Mr. Clark. I believe the workshop will be able to sort it for me. Many thanks for your help.