"ntldr is missing" error when using multiple SATA Drives

By mytempemail555 ·
Running 3 Computers:

1)AMD 3200 with ASUS A8n-SLI Deluxe MB in an ANTEC Sonata III case (500W PS) 1 x 200 GB IDE, 1 x 300 GB SATA

2)AMD 3200 with ASUS A8n-SLI Deluxe MB in an ANTEC Sonata II case (380W PS)2 x 300 GB SATA

3)Intel Core Duo in an ASUS P5B Deluxe MB in an ANTEC P190 +1200 case (1200W PS)1x 300 GB SATA, 5 x 500GB SATA II

Okay, I've had this problem for 2 years, and I have it on ALL my computers. The ANTEC Cases have very neat and easy to use removable HDD bays so I swap HDDs alot (but not the primary HDD)I do alot of video editing (hence all the HDDs)In addition to the HDDs in the computers I have another 10 or so on the shelf ready to swap in; with the price of a SATA Drive these days it just seems to be the nost economical and secure way to store my Data; I have found that files I burn to DVD become unreliable after several years. So here is the problem:

Whenever I swap a new drive into any of the three computers, the first time I boot I get the ntldr is missing msg. THe only way to fix it I have found is to unplug all the drives except the boot drive and then power up the system. It then immediately finds the right drive and boots up. After that I can plug the other drives back in again and everything is great until the next time I swap a drive. I don't understand this. If the system is trying to boot from a different SATA, I can understand why unplugging all SATAs but the one I want works. What I don't understand is why I can plug them all back in again afterwards and the system boots properly. Shouldn't it hang again after I plug them in? It is obvious to me that it isn't getting to my boot drive on poer up, and I have changed the order of boot devices in my BIOS several times, but to no avail. This problem (and fix)has been going on for years and is very consistent. I thought it was a power issue when I was running 4 x HDDs in each Sonata tower as the PS was small, ehich is why I upgrasded one of my machines to the P190 1200 W and dropped the other computers to two HDDs. This didn't fix anything. In fact, my P190 gets the error if I forget to take my USB stick out before rebooting. Once that happens I get the error, and only removing the USB and rebooting doesn't help; I have to remove any optical disk and open the case and unplug all the other drives too. This is a pain because the P190 has a side fan which I have to unplug whenever I open the case. I have come to just leaving the sides off all my cases now because the problem is so frequent.

What I don't understand is why when it tries to load ntldr on the wrong drive it doesn't continue looking until it finds the right one? I also used to think this was an issue with mixing IDE & SATA drives in the same machine, but that can't be it because only one of my machines has an IDE Drive. All by boot drives are Maxtor SATAS and most of the Data Drives are Western Digital. (the others are Maxtor)


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Yes. Me too.

by CamRaiD In reply to "ntldr is missing" error ...

I have this same confusing issue. I have my OS on my sata drive and I have my IDE storage drive.

I get NTLDR is missing error only if the IDE is plugged in at the same time.

It has happened for years and i don't know why!!!

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Slightly different Issue

by B.Leighton In reply to Yes. Me too.

I Think you issue is slightly different.

I've noticed on (Edit: all?) motherboards IDE drives override SATA drives, I think this generally relates to the jumpers either set as master or cable select

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This is completely different

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Yes. Me too.

On all computers a IDE Drive is the Hardware Default Primary Drive. So if you have 3 IDE Drives the Primary Master is the Default HDD followed by the Primary Slave and then the Secondary Master, followed by the Secondary Slave and then finally the SATA 1 HDD Connector.

When you load an OS the very first files involved in loading it are written to the Primary HDD fitted to the system. So if you have both IDE and SATA Drives those Files are written to the Root of the Primary IDE Drive and if you then remove the IDE Drive they are not possible to find as the system attempts to boot. So it fails to boot.

While all of the OS Files are intact the initial Files necessary to point the Installer or Boot Loader are not present so the Boot Loader is not initialized and doesn't start running.

If you then add another IDE Drive the Drive Chain gets altered and the Boot Loader points to the wrong HDD to find the Install Files and it hangs again.

If you want to write data to a IDE Drive fit it to a USB Enclosure and use it that way.


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RE: Shouldn't it hang again after I plug them in?

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to "ntldr is missing" error ...

No it shouldn't as when you boot the system with just the one drive in it that drive becomes the Default HDD and the system looks to that drive for ever more or at least till the Hardware Configuration is changed again. Then you have to repeat the process all over again.

What you appear to be doing wrong here is not taking notice of the SATA Drive Connectors Numbers. These M'Boards have the SATA Connectors numbered from 0 to 3 or whatever. The Boot Drive should be plugged into Socket 0 and any additional Drives plugged into Sockets 1 then 2 and so on till you have all of the drives that you need fitted.

Even then I'm not sure that it's going to work all that well you should use the correct device something like a Antec MX1 External SATA Enclosure that has both USB and ESATA Connectors on it.

That way you can have the speed of a ESATA Connection to an external HDD in a Actively Cooled Enclosure and do as you like without any possibility of allowing the HDD to overheat. Though it may still be subject to Vibrational Damage but Antec make a excellent Enclosure that is very well insulated, so unless you drop the enclosure with the drive running it's not likely to get hurt.


This device comes with the External ESATA Connector to plug to the M'Board and use the faster Data Transfer method. It comes will all of the necessary cables and Power Adapters.

It's really the proper way to go here instead of swapping HDD's from the cases.

As for using IDE and SATA HDD the IDE HDD will always be the Primary Boot Drive and is where the Initial Files are always written to the HDD to point the Boot Loader to the location of the necessary Boot Files.

If you remove this Drive the files get removed with it so the system can not boot.

Then if you do not have a IDE HDD fitted those Initial Boot Files get copied tot he next Default Primary Drive fitted this should be the SATA 0 Connector but if you add a IDE Tape Drive, Zip Drive or so on that gets moved yet again and the system has trouble locating the necessary files.

Overall it's easier using a good external HDD enclosure like the MX1 they just work better.


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"ntldr is missing" error when using multiple SATA Drives

by vigremrajesh In reply to "ntldr is missing" error ...

I think you are facing this issue because that you didn't note the primary/secondray, master/slave port for SATA drive also.

since its hot swappable, connect the drive in system and swicth on the system and check POST screen, how the attached hdd represent. check that your main bootable HDD is in primary master, if not switch the system and fix it correct SATA slot and then try with multiple HDD swap whenever you like.

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