NTDetect Failure - Can Formatting Be Avoided?

I have a Dell desktop that won't boot.  It keeps flashing "NTDetect Failed".  When I boot from the Dell reinstallation CD and select Recovery Console, I get a C prompt.  When I boot from something called "The Ultimate Boot CD" and try to access the C drive, I get a message that the drive is not formatted.  Is there anything that can be done to possibly avoid formatting the hard drive?  Not much data but a lot of apps to reinstall.  Thanks.
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Try repair installation, not repair console.
Hmm...depends if you have a full blown Windows XP CD to hand.

choose option to repair (cant think of the options off hand - and even better if there is an option to get a recovery console)

and you could try a FIXMBR from there

Sorry for the scetchy information - its been a good while since I last had to do a Win XP repair

I must say though - Does the "Ultimate Boot CD" support NTFS (which Im guessing your file system is) - if its saying it cant find a partition - are you sure the hard disk isnt dead?
dontheeAuthor Commented:
Where do I find repair installation?  I'm not in front of the machine right now but I don't remember seeing that as an option when booting from Dell's "Reinstallation CD".  Do you think I'd be better off booting from one of my other Win XP installation CD's?

When I select Recovery Console from the available options upon booting from Dell's "Reinstallation CD" I only get a C prompt.  Is that what Recovery Console looks like?  And are there commands to use from there?  And would that be the place to use FIXMBR?  I'm not sure the hard disk is not dead.  I will double check but I believe the Ultimate Boot CD supports NTFS.  Do you think I'd be better off booting from one of my other Win XP installation CD's?
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if you type "help" at the recovery console C:\ prompt you should get a list of the commands supported - one of which should be FIXMBR - for info there is also a FIXBOOT - see desciptions below - But I think its FIX MBR you want.

If ntdetect is actually damaged though you might be up the creek and will have to do a repair install over the top

fixboot drive name:
Use this command (where drive name is the drive letter where the boot sector will be written) to write the new Windows boot sector code on the boot partition. This command fixes problems where the Windows boot sector is corrupted. The Emergency Repair process also fixes the boot sector. This command overrides the default of writing to the system boot partition.
fixmbr device name
Use this command (where device name is an optional device name that specifies the device that needs a new MBR) to repair the master boot record (MBR) of the system partition. This command is used in scenarios where a virus has damaged the MBR and Windows cannot start.
in saying that - either may fix your issue
really silly question time - your PC doesnt have a floppy drive in it and you have a disk in there! and its set to boot second in your bios (lost count of how many times I have seen that message and panic sets in, until you eject the disk)

Im saying second in the bios because the CD/DVD rom drive must be first as you are able to boot to CD.

You never know also though - some machines these days support booting from a USB stick - you havent got one of those attached?
I think you should first check your hard disk for errors i mean file system. i you have UBCD, boot from it and try to check your hard disc for errors. i think a file system error could be the cause. one more thing if you have UBCD then in the main boot menu you have windows recovery console option which would start windows recovery console. check your hard disc for error using the chkdsk command.
You can use other XP CD to perform repair installation, but try Dell CD first. Let the installation goes until you have selections R for repair, Esc for .....
dontheeAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all for prompt responses.  I will try all suggestions in the morning when I am back to the machine in question.  Thanks again.

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