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Microsoft KB Archive/103268

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Knowledge Base

"Boot Couldn't Find NTLDR" error message during Windows NT Server 3.1 setup program

Article ID: 103268

Article Last Modified on 11/1/2006


  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 3.1
  • Microsoft Windows NT Advanced Server 3.1

This article was previously published under Q103268


The file allocation table (FAT) file system allows a maximum of 512 files or directories in the root directory of a given partition. If this limitation prevents Windows NT Setup from copying the file NTLDR to the root of the bootable partition, you will be unable to complete the installation of Windows NT.


If you attempt to install Windows NT to a machine that has a bootable partition that is formatted as FAT and has reached the limit of 512 files on the root directory, Windows NT Setup will be unable to copy NTLDR to the root of drive C. If NTLDR cannot be copied to the root of drive C, you will receive the following error:

Setup encountered an error while copying the file NTLDR. The offending file will be skipped but setup may not be able to correctly install Windows NT.

You will not be given the option to exit Setup at this point, and Setup will resume. When you are prompted to restart at the completion of the text mode portion of Setup, you will receive the following error as Windows NT attempts to load the graphical portion of Setup:

Boot couldn't find NTLDR. Please insert another disk.

To work around this problem and successfully continue the setup of Windows NT, perform the following steps:

  1. Restart the machine with an MS-DOS system disk.
  2. Delete one or more files from the root of drive C.
  3. Expand NTLDR._ from either Disk 1 of the Windows NT setup floppy disks, or from the \i386 directory of the Windows NT CD-ROM, to the root of drive C.

NOTE: EXPAND.EXE is compressed on both the Windows NT setup floppy disks and the Windows NT CD-ROM. You can, however, use EXPAND.EXE from MS-DOS 6.0 or Windows 3.1.

  1. Remove the MS-DOS system disk and restart the machine, which should bring the system back to Setup.

NOTE: Similar problems may occur with the file NTDETECT.COM. The four steps outlined above should also solve this problem.

Additional query words: prodnt NTDETECT SETUP

Keywords: kbother KB103268