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Windows XP Protected OS files on root directory safe to copy over?

Posted on 2011-03-17
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
I've got a user's XP machine that I've been working on, and all seemed okay in general before I rebooted, but when it came back up, it wouldn't boot because it was "Missing ntldr"  

I've got the hard drive in an external case, and have connected to my personal XP machine.  With protected operating system files made viewable from folder options, I can see that what's on my root C drive (autoexec.bat, boot.ini, config.sys, luo.bat, io.sys, ntdetect.com, ntldr, and pagefile.sys) isn't on the other user's root directory.  

My question is:  is it safe to copy all the files listed above from my drive to theirs to get this machine booting normally?  I've read that supposedly ntdetect.com and ntldr are able to be copied over from one OS to another, but was wondering about the rest.  Thanks!
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Question by:periv
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Expert Comment

by:__ST
ID: 35161824
More often than not, the missing ntldr message is due to a corrupt boot.ini.

If anything has changed with the drive partitions, try verifying that first.  The Ultimate Boot CD (http://www.ultimatebootcd.com) is a free download that will give you all the tools you need to troubleshoot it (you should be able to get by with TestDisk and GPartEd).

Copying ntldr and ntdetect.com from a working machine may work, but depending on service pack and installed updates you could run into complications.  Generally you would repair either of those files from the OS install disk (slipstreamed to latest service pack, if needed) using repair mode.

This link has a good overview of your problem with possible solutions:
http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000465.htm
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BCipollone earned 50 total points
ID: 35191290
I would put in the OS disk and try to repair or run SFC from that disk. You do not want to copy the pagefile, however the others should be fine, but you are probably going to need to edit the boot.ini and autexec.bat to fit that computer.

I would hook that drive up to your computer, recover the data, then wipe and reload it... as long as you have the software to go back on it.

Probably cause you less headache and cost you less time.
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Author Closing Comment

by:periv
ID: 35212070
Finally got back to this issue!  

Ended up trying the UBCD suggestion and repairing using OS disc, neither worked for me.

Saved user's files, copied my PC's system files over to the user's HD, and so far, so good.  Booted right into Windows!  Now back to trying to tidy things up!  

Thanks to you both for your suggestions and input!
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