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ntoskrnl.exe missing or corrupt HELP!

lance22 asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2007-12-19
Problem:  Windows won't start, get message that says " ... ntoskrnl.exe is missing or corrup".  So, boot the computer off of my Win2000 CD, select the repair option, and here's where things go bad:  The repair choice gives me two options (1) Use the Recovery Console and (2) Use an Emergency Repair Disk.  Both are dead-ends for me.  (1) I don't know how to use the Recovery Console, and it only accepts about 18 commands and (2) I don't have an ERD (floppy) and when I ask it so find it on disk it just gives me the same ol' screen telling me I need an ERD.

So, what do I do from here?  I don't want to lose the 8 grand worth of software on my system.  And yeah, I've spent two days reading stuff about this on the 'net including stuff here ... I'm still stuck :(

Thanks in advance,

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Top Expert 2004


First have a look at this
Err Msg: Windows Could Not Start...(Missing Ntoskrnl.exe)

Deb :))
Top Expert 2004

Duh - Lol - sorry useful if you IBM OS/2    :))


BTW, I understand that it makes a BIG difference whether I'm using FAT32 or NTFS.  How can I find out which I have?
Thanks again,
Gareth GudgerSolution Architect
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Top Expert 2014

You could try checking out the hard drive.

Boot into the recovery console and type chkdsk /R to have it scan the drive for errors. Have seen it fix this error a lot.

Some of the other options might help as well like FIXBOOT I believe is one.

Sometimes I have gotten around the repair disk option by creating a repair disk on another Windows 2000 box (as long as they both use same IDE/SCSI controllers).
Gareth GudgerSolution Architect
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Top Expert 2014

* (as long as they both use same IDE/SCSI controllers - even though the rest of the hardware is a lot different).
Have you tried getting into the operating system using a boot disk?  Sometimes I've found that after I've installed a service pack or hotfix, something gets messed up and I get similar errors to what you're seeing.  I've been able to boot in using the boot disk, and then shutdown the OS normally.  Then when I started the machine again, everything worked normally.  It almost looks like something got reset during the shutdown.  But even if you can boot in with the boot disk, it will help narrow down the problem for you.

Knowledge Base Article 301680 - HOW TO: Create a Boot Disk for an NTFS or FAT Partition in Windows (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;301680&Product=win2000) talks about how to create boot disks, if you don't already have one.

Hopes this helps.


do you know what you did before this error occured?

did you try to setup dual booting, or add a new partition, or something like that?

often this error is the result of having an incorrect boot.ini file

re NTFS - the difference here would be that with FAT32 you could boot off an 98 bootdisk and modify the boot files - with NTFS you can't do that. If you boot to DOS and run fdisk it may show you filesystem type...or it might just say unknown filesystem. I'm not certain if FAT32 shows up properly with fdisk or not...If you could get into your system, you can look at Disk Administration to see the file system, or just right-click on a folder and see if there is a security tab or not...
Zaheer IqbalTechnical Assurance & Implementation

Ok what caused the probelm?

Could it be memory probelms , check your memory..
Also do a disk check as suggested..
I would try FIXBOOT and FIXMBR..
There may be a problem with the Boot.ini.
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For those who have this problem and want to have
a head's up.  I had the above problem with NTFS.
Console didn't do anything for me.  The first repair
options did nothing.  Success came when I opted
for install but selected the last install option that
claimed it would "change nothing".  Worked great.


I kept all of my files and software intact.  That was
success beyond my hopes.  The unexpected consequences
were that ALL of my drivers were now gone, which meant
that the computer had 16 (or whatever) colors, and would
not recognize any devise other than the mouse and keyboard.
All drivers needed to be reinstalled.  Software is re-entered
by going to that programs folder and clicking on the start icon.
Your start menu will be totally blank.  Reinsert the programs
back into the start (pop out) menu by going into the options
for that.

I thought I was going to lose my whole system, but instead
I lost nothing.  I still don't know what caused this.  I want to
thank jthrow and all others for the excellent help.

Best regards,


Not sure why the drivers disappeared, or the start menu items: That's not supposed to happen....  The worst I've seen is W2K deciding a device is something slightly different from what it is and installing its own 'generic' drivers.  Usually only applies to modems / NICs / monitors.  It does tend to re-set the display properties if, for example, you've had them set to 1024/768 and / or high resolution.

One effect of running the Install flavour of Repair is that the system reverts to its original SP level and you have to re-apply your latest SP and re-update IE.  You also need to re-apply other windoze updates.  I have seen that have some strange effects, such as Network & Dial-up connections disappearing until the SP level has been restored.

Main thing is you got everything back.  Thanks for the points. ;-)

Someone mentioned this in a different forum which I'd like to find to give them props and support their decision - but anyway, I tried copying ntoskrnl.exe from the W2K CD, I tried checking the boot.ini file - boot.ini was fine and even after copying the "missing or corrupted file" it still would not boot into Windows2000! Someone suggested using chkdsk switch-R, and I did and VOILA! - Instant Windows!

If you can't figure out how to get into command prompt - the way I managed was to put in the W2K CD and then wait for the message to come up, chose "R" for Repair and then "C" for Console (which will then ask you which installation of Windows you want to get into and then provide you with command prompt).

Hope that helps someone out there!
Just wanted to add my fix in case it can help someone else...

1. Win 2K SP4 getting ntoskrnl.exe file missing or corrupt at boot up.
2. When going into the Recovery Console, it does NOT ask for me to log into an instance of windows (ie. C:\WINNT), but it DOES give me a C: prompt.
3. When doing a DIR command at the C: prompt, there is no WINNT directory.
4. Attempting to repair with or without an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD) tells me that it cannot find a copy of Windows on the PC (in this case a Dell Precision M40 laptop)

1. From the C: prompt of the RC, I did a CHKDSK.
2. It "found" 3 "missing" directories and stuck them inside a FOUND.000 directory. They were DIR0000.chk, DIR0001.chk and DIR0002.chk.
3. Upon inspecting their contents, it turned out they were the WINNT, SYSTEM32 and CONFIG directories.
4. I put the laptop harddrive into a working PC as a secondary drive (you need to use a $5 pinout converter), renamed and moved the directories to their proper locations (CONFIG goes inside SYSTEM32 which goes inside WINNT which is at the root - in my case, at least), performed a SCANDISK (it found 48k of bad sectors), shutdown the PC, put the laptop drive back in the laptop and everything came up fine.
5. I then backed up all my necessary files and promptly bought a new laptop!
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