Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a computer that is running Windows XP. For some reason, the other day it wouldn't start giving me the following message:

"ntoskrnl.exe is missing or corrupt"

So I put the XP disc in the tray and fired up the repair console and ran the following:

chkdsk /r

It was on for about eight hours and it got to about 52% I believe. Then there was a power outage and the computer shut down (obviously). Today when I was booting it, it isn't even detecting there's an OS anymore. If I boot the computer with no cd in the tray it says:

"Reboot and select a proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key"

If I run the repair console, or the xp installation program it isn't finding any OS installations.

Any ideas on what to do next? Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Update: After turning boot-time diagnostics on, I got this message when booting without cd (instead of the previous one):

"Couldn't open drive multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)"
share|improve this question
It sounds like there is a problem with hard-drive. Stop trying to boot from it and see if you can even detect it at all. Boot from the CD again and check if you can still see it. If not, then you should check if the BIOS is detecting it. – Synetech Dec 5 '12 at 15:32

Sounds like XP's file system is now corrupted.

Use a LiveCD or other data recovery option to grab as much data as possible and then re-install XP.

share|improve this answer
Not that easy I'm afraid, there's data on there that I need to get. I haven't tried a live CD yet but I'm about to seeing as we're running out of options. – Felthragar Dec 5 '12 at 11:47
@Felthragar - This is what backups are for. This is also a case for UPS when running programs like chdksk – Ramhound Dec 5 '12 at 12:11
I didn't make this clear but it's not my computer. I always keep backups of important files. The person with this computer got a similar problem a few years back and lost a great deal of files. I told her about backups and she claims to have been doing her homework. So if we're lucky she has all files backed up somewhere. What I'm preparing for is if she doesn't. – Felthragar Dec 5 '12 at 12:45
This isn’t really an answer; it’s more of a cop-out. Suggesting the easy/lazy way out of simply re-installing is a comment, not an answer (which is likely not going to be too helpful anyway since the OP has probably already considered it). – Synetech Dec 5 '12 at 15:10
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. – Synetech Dec 5 '12 at 15:10

your windows XP cd does not recognise the xp installation on the hard drive you mean?
Did you change anything in your BIOS? Try to make sure your hard disk is being detected properly from the BIOS. If there was a power outage and if your computer is old, it might have done something to the hard drive (but lets hope that's not the case)

share|improve this answer
Yes that's what I mean. My Windows XP CD does not recognize the xp insallation. Also, the computer does not detect any operating system anymore on the disk. However, the disk itself is detected and indicated as healthy by the BIOS. I have not made any changes to the BIOS, except to turn POST-diagnostics display on and that was done just now to check if the harddrive was detected or not. – Felthragar Dec 5 '12 at 11:13
That is strange. How about if you go to the menu for formatting the hard drive? Does it show anything there? If all else fails try another CD or a Linux live CD if you have one and see if they can read the harddisk or not. – user13267 Dec 5 '12 at 11:28
First off I gotta say that it takes forever to load the xp cd. It seems the disk analyzis is taking forever. When I finally get through it doesn't recognize anything, it says "Invalid Disk - There's no disk in the unit". But when I tried it yesterday it recognized all three partitions just fine (XP, miniNT (not sure what that is), HPRECOVERY). – Felthragar Dec 5 '12 at 11:46
Some computer vendors provide hard disk image and recovery software in a special hidden partition from where you can make the computer work as it was when you bought it. Your HPRECOVERY partition is supposed to hold the diskimage and the recovery software. Unfortunately the recovery software may or may not be present in your case I do not know. When you turn on the computer there should be some mesage that says "press F2 for recovery" or something else. You should try that option first, but like I said, your recovery partition may not contain any data. If that is the case it won't work. – user13267 Dec 5 '12 at 11:50
Again, your CD is probably looking for the windows installation in the recovery partition and that is why it's not detecting anything. If you do not want to mess around with the recovery option or if it's not working for any reason, you can completely delete your old partitions, create new ones and then reinstall XP as a fresh install. Also, if your CD takes too long to boot, it might possibly be a problem with your CD itself. Try with a new CD. – user13267 Dec 5 '12 at 11:53
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Figured I'd share what has been going on.

After reading various articles on the subject online, I decided to give Spinrite a go ( After chewing for a few days, and being stuck at 96.something percent for a while, I decided to cancel it. However, this was enough to make the partitions readable again. I then ran Active@PartitionRecovery (other software might work as well at this point) to retreive the files I wanted off of the harddrive. Then I used the disk manager in windows to reformat the harddrive to ntfs (not quick format). After about two hours the disk is now formatted and ready to install the operating system again, after which I will restore the recovered files.

If I would have let Spinrite finish completely, maybe I could have made the disk bootable again. But for this particular case, retreiving the files was the most important thing, and I didn't want to let it run for too long at the time.

So anyway, I recommend anyone with similar disk problems to try out Sprinrite. It costs a bit of money but obviously appears to be working quite well.

share|improve this answer
Just a note, I probably wouldn't trust a disk that has acted up like this. I'd rather get a replacement physical disk.. – Michael Kjörling Jul 17 '14 at 22:08

Just as a suggestion, many times, even though the win xp recovery doesn't see an OS, you can try hooking it up to another computer, thru a USB adapter, and see all your files just fine. Then, you can back up what you need before reinstalling windows!

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .