NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt: Fix for Windows XP

NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt: Fix for Windows XP

Here we can see, “NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt: Fix for Windows XP”

For Windows XP, get the solution to the boot error “NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt.”

Symptoms and description

This Error is linked to the error messages, alerts, warnings, and symptoms listed below.

Symptom 1: On startup, an error message appears stating that ntoskrnl.exe is missing or corrupt.

The ntoskrnl.exe (Windows NT operating system kernel) manages several system services, including hardware virtualization, process, and memory management. After the basic loading subroutines and hardware, detection is completed in the NTLDR and NTDETECT boot files, control of the boot process is given to ntoskrnl.exe so that the operating system can begin loading. If ntoskrnl.exe is missing or corrupt, the boot process is paused, displaying the following error.

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe.
Please re-install a copy of the above file.

This Error’s Causes

One or more of the following factors have been linked to this error:

Cause 1: Invalid boot.ini configuration

A boot that has been misconfigured.

The Windows XP bootloader may attempt to load Windows from the wrong drive or partition if the ini file is missing.

If NTLDR tries to load Windows from the wrong partition, it will be unable to locate ntoskrnl.exe, resulting in this error.

Incorrectly installed software, a botched Windows update, a malware attack, or an incomplete Windows upgrade can cause Boot.ini to become misconfigured.

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Cause 2: Corrupt boot volume

A corrupt boot partition can cause this issue on a Windows XP computer.

An unsafe shutdown, sudden power loss, unsafe removal of a local or external disk, or physical disk damage and/or corruption can cause the boot drive to become corrupted.

Both NTFS and FAT32 filesystems and volumes can have a damaged boot partition.

Cause 3: ntoskrnl.exe has been corrupted or destroyed.

As stated on the error screen, this problem can be caused by a missing or corrupted ntoskrnl.exe file on the Windows system partition. The system partition and the boot partition may or may not be the same (see above).

As a result of an unsafe shutdown, NTFS or FAT32 volume corruption failed Windows updates or virus infection, and the file Windowssystem32ntoskrnl.exe may be deleted or corrupted.

Cause 4: Incorrect PS/2 keyboard behaviour.

With modern USB/internal keyboards, software-related keyboard difficulties are largely no longer a worry. However, older PCs with a serial interface that use a keyboard may misunderstand the device’s mapped memory as a storage disk, resulting in boot problems like this one.

Cause 5: Hard disk controller drivers are missing.

This error message appears if Windows does not have the necessary drivers to access the Windows system files on the main partition. A botched driver update, changes to the hardware setup, or changes to the hard disk settings in the BIOS can all cause this.

Fix NTOSKRNL.exe is missing or corrupt in Windows

Fix 1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

Easy Recovery Essentials’ built-in Automated Repair feature is guaranteed to automatically fix the “NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt” issue. EasyRE can be downloaded and produced on any PC and is presently available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials. Before you download EasyRE, make a note of your Windows version (XP, Vista, 7, or 8).
  2. The image should be burned.
  3. Start your computer with the Easy Recovery Essentials CD or USB you made.
  4. After EasyRE has started, select “Automated Repair” and click Continue.
  5. After EasyRE has finished scanning your computer’s disks, find and pick the drive letter for your Windows installation from the list, and then click the Automated Repair option to start the repair process.
  6. Easy Recovery Essentials will begin looking for faults on the selected drive. EasyRE will scan the disk, partition, bootsector, filesystem, bootloader, and registry for faults and attempt to automatically rectify them. EasyRE’s repair is totally automated; thus no interaction is required:
  7. EasyRE will provide its findings after the process is completed. To reboot your PC and test the changes, click the Restart option.
  8. As your PC starts to load, the error “NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt” should be fixed.

Fix 2: Replace or recreate a corrupted/incorrect boot.ini

Windows uses the ini file to set up and show its operating system choices. Manual instructions for replicating the boot. ini files are also available, but these require some computer knowledge. So instead, the steps below will walk you through automatically recreating boot.ini from the Windows XP setup CD.

  1. Restart your computer after inserting the Windows XP CD.
  2. When you see the message “Press any key to boot from CD,” press a key to boot into the CD.
  3. When the “Welcome to Setup” display appears, press R to open the Recovery Console.
  4. Hit Enter after entering your Administrator password.
  5. The next command you need to write is below; hit Enter afterwards:
bootcfg /rebuild

The following command, bootcfg /rebuild, will examine your computer for installed Windows copies; press Enter afterwards: If you’re using Windows XP, follow these steps:

If the command prompt displays a message similar to the one below, press Y:

1. When you get a message like this, you should:

Total Identified Windows Installs: 1

[1] C:\Windows
Add installation to boot list? (Yes/No/All)

2. When you receive a message like this:

Enter Load Identifier

You’ll be prompted to give the installation you chose in the previous stage a name that will be allocated to it and shown in the boot menu. Examples:

Enter Load Identifier: Windows XP Professional (Recovered)

3. (Optional) If you get a message like this, type /fastdetect and press Enter.

Enter OS Load options

Type in /fastdetect followed by Enter

4. Restart your computer.

Here’s an example of what the console output from the PC should look like once it boots up.

Fix 3: Boot into Last Known Good Configuration

Rebooting your computer into “Last Known Good Configuration” mode requires it to use a saved version of the Windows registry from the last time it booted correctly. If the problem is caused by improper, misconfigured, or uninstalled drivers, restarting your computer in “last known good configuration” mode may help. This option is available from the Advanced Boot Options menu at system startup.

Here’s how to use the Last Known Good Configuration option to start your computer. There are also more thorough instructions for setting up your PC using the last known good configuration.

  1. Your computer should be restarted.
  2. Allow your BIOS to finish POST (the screen that displays your manufacturer’s logo and/or system information).
  3. Start hitting F8 continuously until the list of boot options appears.
  4. “Last Known Good Configuration (Advanced)” should be selected.
  5. Wait for your computer to boot up after pressing Enter.
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Fix 4: Disconnect PS/2 or serial keyboard

If the remedy above doesn’t work and the machine is still using an old PS/2 keyboard, try detaching it and rebooting the computer to see what happens. The steps are as follows:

  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Remove the keyboard from the computer.
  3. Turn on the computer.

The NTOSKRNL.exe error has been reported to go away after detaching the keyboard and reconnecting it after some users restarted it.

Fix 5: Restore the ntoskrnl.exe file

If ntoskrnl.exe is indeed missing or corrupt, the original ntoskrnl.exe file can be recovered from your Windows XP installation disc.

  1. Put your Windows XP CD into the machine.
  2. Your computer should be restarted.
  3. When you get the “Press any key to boot from CD” message, press any key to boot into the CD.
  4. When the Options screen displays, press R to start Recovery Console.
  5. To enter your Administrator password, type it in and press the Enter key.
  6. Now that you’ve reached the Command Prompt, type the following command, replacing D: with the letter of the CD drive and C: with the letter of the drive where Windows was installed:
expand D:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ C:\Windows\system32\

7. If prompted to overwrite this file, select Yes, and then press Enter to complete the action.

8. Your computer should be restarted.

After the ntoskrnl.exe file is recovered, below is an example of what the PC’s console output should look like:

Fix 6: Run chkdsk

If a corrupt boot or system partition is the source of the problem, it can be fixed by scanning the NTFS or FAT32 partition for faults or corruption. chkdsk checks the disk for files and data.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Restart your computer after inserting the Windows CD.
  2. When the message “Press any key to boot from CD” appears on your computer, press any key to boot into the CD.
  3. At the Options menu, press R to launch the Recovery Console.
  4. Hit Enter after entering your Administrator password.
  5. Type the following command at the command prompt and press Enter.
chkdsk /r

6. Restart your computer after the chkdsk process is completed. Take note of any warnings or alarms generated by chkdsk.

Here’s a sample of what the chkdsk.exe console output should look like once it’s finished:


I hope you found this information helpful. Please fill out the form below if you have any queries or comments.

User Questions

1. How can I reinstall ntoskrnl.exe if it is missing or corrupted?

  • Fix 1:Use Easy Recovery Essentials
  • Fix 2:Replace or rebuild a corrupted/incorrect boot.ini.
  • Fix 3: Restart the computer in the last known good configuration.
  • Fix 4: Disconnect the PS/2 or serial keyboard from the computer.
  • Fix 5: Restore the ntoskrnl.exe file.
  • Fix 6: Run the chkdsk command.

2. In Windows XP, how do I repair corrupted files?

Use the cmd prompt to repair corrupt files/folders on Windows XP or any other Windows OS.

Install the XP installation cd, exit the menu, and Sfc will launch automatically. When it’s finished, type CHKDSK C: /F. agree to restart, type: EXIT delete cd, restart the computer, CHKDSK starts when the computer is restarted.

3. What is the location of ntoskrnl.exe?

It is generally placed in C: WindowsSystem32. Because it is such an important file for the Microsoft NT operating system, malware programmers and cyber thieves have created a virus called Ntoskrnl.exe to cause damage to software and hardware.

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