Resolve HAL.dll Missing or Corrupt Error on Windows XP

The following error message may be displayed on your Windows XP computer, when you try to start your system:

Error Message

Winnt_root\System32\Hal.dll missing or corrupt:Please re-install a copy of the above file.

Error Message

Windows NT could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:Winnt_root\System32\Ntoskrnl.exePlease re-install a copy of the above file.

Error Message

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.

In addition to error messages, you may also experience the following problems:

  • When attempting to start Recovery Console on the PC, you may be able to see the command prompt but the option may not be available to log on to the Windows installation.
  • You may receive “Access Denied” error message when attempting to open the Windows folder.
  • Windows installation may not be detected when you try to fix it by using the Repair operation launched using the Windows XP installation CD-ROM.

Cause of the Errors

These error messages and this type of behavior occur when one or more of the following is true:

  • In the [Boot Loader] section of the Boot.ini file, the Defaultvalue is either missing or is invalid.

Note: When this entry is missing, a new entry Windows (default) is displayed. This entry refers to the Windows XP load path as multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS, which may not be correct for your system.

  • Boot.ini points to incorrect location for Windows XP installation.
  • The Ntoskenl.exe file is either missing from the system or is damaged.
  • Boot.ini file comprises incorrect partition path settings.
  • Some hardware on your system is malfunctioning.

Resolution Methods

You can resolve this issue by using one of the following methods:

Method 1: Rectify the Default Entry in the Boot.ini File

  1. Open Start menu, select Run, type sysdm.cpl, and then press Enter.
  2. Open the Advanced tab and then click the Settings button in the Startup and Recovery section.
  3. In the System startup section, click Edit.
  4. Use File > Save as to save a backup of the boot.ini file and then close it.
  5. Click Edit again to open the boot.ini file and then rectify the Default entry as required.

The following is a sample of the boot.ini file:

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect

Method 2: Use Bootcfg Utility to Repair Boot.ini File

If you are able to log on to the Recovery Console, perform the following steps to repair the boot.ini file:

  1. Boot your Windows XP PC from the Windows XP installation disk.
  2. On the Welcome to Windows screen, press R.
  3. Select the Windows installation you want to repair and provide the administrator username and password.
  4. On the Recovery Console command prompt, type bootcfg /rebuild and then press Enter.
  5. The command will load the Windows installation and prompt the following messages:
  6. Add installation to boot list? (Yes/No/All)
    Type Y

    Enter Load Identifier:

    Type Windows XP Professional or Windows XP Home Edition.

    Enter OS Load options:

    Leave blank and press Enter.

  7. Restart your PC and select the first boot menu item.

Windows XP should start normally now.

Method 3: Repair the Ntoskrnl.exe File

  1. Run the Recovery Console.
  2. At command prompt, type the following commands and press Enter:

On Uni-Processor systems:

expand <cd-drive>:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ C:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe

On Multi-Processor systems:

expand <cd-drive>:\i386\ntkrnlmp.ex_ C:\Windows\system32\ntoskrnl.exe

Press Y when you receive the prompt to replace files.


Note: Here, C: represents the drive on which Windows is installed.

Method 4: Run CHKDSK

  1. Run Recovery Console.
  2. Type the following command and then press Enter.


This task will locate any bad sectors on your system and recover any readable information from it.

To prevent such problems, it is recommended that you perform regular PC maintenance. For example, you must use tools, such as Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to maintain and clean the hard disk, a reliable registry maintenance tool, such as RegServe to maintain a healthy registry, and efficient antivirus and antispyware tools, such as STOPzilla Antivirus and Spyware Cease to maintain a virus and spyware free PC.