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Fixes For Missing Windows System Files

We have all received an error message from our computer at one point or another. Some are pretty self explanatory and therefore easy to fix. Others sound like they were written in some other language and don't do much to help the regular Windows user figure out how to fix the problem.

There are several common file errors that you may encounter when trying to start your Windows based computer. Here are a few of the more common errors. You can use the Windows Recovery Console with Windows XP\2000\2003 to fix many Windows errors and the built in recovery options with newer versions of Windows such as Vista and Windows 7.

NTOSKRNL not found
This could be a problem with your boot.ini file being configured incorrectly but is most likely because of a missing or corrupt ntoskrnl.exe file. Try these steps to fix the problem.

  1. Boot from your Windows XP CD.
  2. When it asks if you want to repair your Windows installation at the first R=Repair option, press the R key
  3. Press the number that corresponds to the correct location for the installation of Windows you want to repair. There will most likely be only one option unless you have a dual boot setup.
  4. Enter in the administrator password when requested (If it is blank just press enter)
  5. Change to the drive letter for your CDROM.
  6. Type CD i386
  7. Type expand ntkrnlmp.ex_ C:\Windows\System32\ntoskrnl.exe
    If Windows is installed in a different location besides C:\Windows, type in the correct path.
  8. Take out the CD and type exit to reboot your computer.

HAL.DLL Missing or Corrupt
If you get an error regarding a missing or corrupt hal.dll file, it might simply be the BOOT.INI file on the root of the C: drive that is misconfigured. The hal.dll file is a Windows NT file that is used by windows when communicating with your computer's hardware. Try these steps to fix the problem.

  1. Insert and boot from your Windows XP CD.
  2. At the first R=Repair option, press the R key
  3. Press the number that corresponds to the correct location for the installation of Windows you want to repair.
    Typically this will be #1
  4. Type bootcfg /list to show the current entries in the BOOT.INI file
  5. Type bootcfg /rebuild to repair it
  6. Take out the CD and type exit

If that doesn’t work your can try to replace your hal.dll with another copy.
Repeat the above steps to return to the Recovery Console.
At the command prompt type: expand d:\i386\hal.dl_ c:\windows\system32\hal.dll (Where d: is the drive letter of your CD and c:\windows is the location for your Windows installation folder.)
If prompted for permission to overwrite an existing version of the hal.dll file select yes.
Take out the CD and type exit.

NTLDR or NTDETECT.COM Not Found
Short for NT Loader, NTLDR is a program loaded from the hard drive boot sector that displays the Windows startup menu and helps Windows load.

Ntdetect.com is invoked by NTLDR, and returns the information it gathers to NTLDR when finished, so that it can then be passed on to Ntoskrnl.exe, the Windows kernel.

Try these steps to fix the problem.

FAT32 partition instructions
Boot with a Windows 98 floppy disk and copy the NTLDR or NTDETECT.COM files
from the i386 directory of your Windows XP CD to the root of the C:\ drive.

NTFS partition instructions

  1. Boot from your Windows XP CD.
  2. When it asks if you want to repair your Windows installation at the first R=Repair option, press the R key
  3. Press the number that corresponds to the correct location for the installation of Windows you want to repair. There will most likely be only one option unless you have a dual boot setup.
  4. Enter in the administrator password when requested (If it is blank just press enter)
  5. Type in the following commands (Replace X by the drive letter that is assigned to the CD ROM drive.
    COPY X:\i386\NTLDR C:\ (Enter)
    COPY X:\i386\NTDETECT.COM C:\ (Enter)
  6. Take out the CD and type exit to reboot your computer.

Related Tips:
How to Access the Windows Recovery Console
Windows Recovery Console Commands
Windows XPs Automatic System Recovery (ASR)

Computer Won't Start or Starts Slow
Changing your computer's boot order
System Recovery Options in Windows Vista

Common PC Error Messages

Using Windows XP System Restore

Viewing and Troubleshooting Windows Services

Using SFC (System File Checker)

 

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