Fix Ntoskrnl.exe Error

What is ntoskrnl.exe?

Ntoskrnl.exe is a critical Windows file used to store the basic code required to start and load a Windows operating system. This process is part of the boot cycle in the Windows XP operating system. If the ntoskrnl.exe file is corrupt, damaged, or deleted, you will not be able to boot your computer.

Ntoskrnl.exe Error

Note: The error and solution discussed below apply to Microsoft Windows XP 64-bit Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, and Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition.

When you try to start your Windows XP, you may receive one of the error messages listed below:

Error Message 1

“Windows could not start because of a computer disk hardware configuration problem.

Could not read from the selected boot disk. Check boot path and disk hardware.

Please check the Windows documentation about hardware disk configuration and your hardware reference manuals for additional information.”

Error Message 2

“Windows NT could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:


Please re-install a copy of the above file.”

Error Message 3

“Winnt_root\System32\Hal.dll missing or corrupt:

Please re-install a copy of the above file.”

Cause of the Error

The above error occurs if any of the conditions listed below hold true:

  • The default value present in the Boot Loader section of your Boot.ini file is corrupt or missing.
  • Windows XP is installed in some other location than the one mentioned in the Boot.ini file.
  • The Ntoskrnl.exe file is damaged or missing from your computer.
  • The partition path in the Boot.ini file is incorrectly set.
  • Failure of hardware components.

Resolutions Methods

The scope of this article is limited to ntoskrnl.exe. Assuming that the above errors are occurring due to missing or damaged ntoskrnl.exe, perform the following corrective steps to fix the error.

Install the ntoskrnl.exe file from the Windows XP Installation disc

  1. Insert your Windows XP Installation CD in your CD-ROM drive.
  2. Restart your computer and on the first beep press any key (usually it is F2) to boot from the CD.
  3. Next, after the setup files have finished loading, press R to open the Recovery Console.
  4. In Recovery Console, select the Windows XP installation you need to log on to (it is 1 if you have only single operating system installed) and then press Enter.
  5. Next, type the administrator password to log in as an Administrator and press Enter.
  6. At the Recovery Console command prompt, type the appropriate command and then press Enter to run it.
    • For Uni-Processor (single CPU) systems:
      expand <cd-drive>:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ <hd-drive>:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe
    • For Multi-Processor (multiple CPU) systems:
      expand <cd-drive>:\i386\ntkrnlmp.ex_ <hd-drive>:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe

    Note: In the above two commands, the <cd-drive> points to your CD drive and the <hd-drive> refers to the drive on which Windows is installed.

  7. If asked to confirm if you want to overwrite the file, press Y.
  8. Type Exit and press Enter to close the command prompt.

Ntoskrnl.exe is not appearing in the list of current running processes

Note: To view your current processes, press Ctrl+Alt+Del and then open Processes tab in the Windows Task Manager window that is displayed.

This is normal and should not be a cause of concern. Under normal circumstances, the ntoskrnl.exe process should not appear in WinTasks.

On the contrary, you should be alarmed if the ntoskrnl.exe appears in the list of current running processes. W32.bolzano virus and its variants are known to alter the ntoskrnl.exe file. If ntoskrnl.exe appears in WinTasks, it means that the file is infected. Take immediate corrective measures by updating your protective tool with the latest virus definitions and run a malware scan on your entire system. In the future, install advanced antimalware tools, such as STOPzilla Antivirus and Spyware Cease to prevent your computer from malware programs.