How to Fix the "NTLDR Is Compressed" Error when Booting a Cloned Drive

If you want more disk space, you my have opted for cloning an image of your hard drive on to another drive you have bought. This sometimes results in an "NTLDR is compressed" error on XP when you're booting this up. Here is a guide to resolve that if you don't own a Recovery disk. (You MUST have the original drive working, and your target drive connected to, and accessible by the computer)

Steps

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    Boot up your computer and log in as any Administrator.
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    Locate the two volumes and verify you can access both volumes; in My computer, check you have two "Local Disk" volumes as hard drives/disks.
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    Enter the target volume, then navigate to WINDOWS/system32/cmd or cmd.exe
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    You will enter the Command prompt for that volume, a black screen with white writing. Type in "cd \" (without quote marks) and press enter.
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    Type "attrib ntldr" and hit enter. You should see something along the lines of "A SHR <your_volume_letter>:\ntldr"
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    Type "attrib -s -h ntldr". That should remove the system and hidden attributes on the file.
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    Go back to windows explorer, and go to the root of the drive (where you navigated to WINDOWS)
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    If all is done correctly, you should see a file called "ntldr" IN BLUE FONT! The blue font is important, it shows the file is compressed. if it isn't blue, there is another problem which you should research.
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    If the writing is blue right click on "ntldr" and click "Properties".
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    You should see two attributes at the bottom of the window "Read-only" and "Hidden". Click the "Advanced" button.
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    Make sure the TOP two are checked and the BOTTOM TWO ARE NOT.
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    Click OK and check the Hidden attribute before clicking OK again.
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    Go back to the Command Prompt
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    Type "attrib ntldr" and hit enter. The output should be something like "A HR <drive_letter>:\ntldr"
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    Type "attrib -h ntldr" and enter, THEN type "attrib +s +h ntldr" and enter.
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    Restart your computer and boot the target volume.

Warnings

  • If you are trying to boot Windows XP from an external hard drive, it will fail to boot. This is and intended feature implemented by Microsoft. While your NTLDR problem is fixed, you cant get past the Windows Logo screen.

Things You'll Need

  • Two hard drives: the original and target volumes. The original must be functional.

Article Info

Categories: Hardware Maintenance and Repair