What Is a GHO File?

Screenshot of several GHO files in Windows 10 that open with Ghost Explorer
GHO Files.

A file with the GHO file extension is a Norton Ghost Backup file.

GHO files are full backups of an entire device, normally a hard drive, created using the now discontinued Norton Ghost program from Symantec. After the 2013 discontinuation of Norton Ghost, GHO files could be created using Symantec Ghost Solution Suite.

Some GHO files are accompanied by GHS files, which are part files used to store disk images on smaller storage devices.

How to Open a GHO File

GHO files can be opened with Symantec Ghost Solution Suite. For a free program that can open GHO files, use Ghost Explorer, which is a portable program that lets you can extract particular files and folders from the GHO file and save them to a custom destination.

Note: On the Ghost Explorer download page, scroll down until you see the FTP download link, and click that to get Ghost Explorer.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the GHO file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open GHO files, you can change the default program for a specific file extension in Windows.

How to Convert a GHO File

GHO files can be restored to a computer using the software that created the GHO file, like Ghost Solution Suite. However, you cannot treat the GHO file like an installation disc and use it to install an operating system.

For example, even though an ISO image burned to a disc can be used to install Windows to a hard drive, you cannot convert the GHO file to ISO and use it to install Windows (or macOS, etc.). In other words, you can't restore the GHO file by converting it to an ISO file and then booting to it like you would when installing an operating system.

You can, however, convert GHO to VHD if you want the file to be in the Virtual PC Virtual Hard Disk file format. To do that, see these instructions on Symantec Connect or Simon Rozman's tutorial.

Still Can't Open Your File?

It's important to make sure that your file ends with the .GHO file extension before trying to open it with a GHO file opener. Some files use a very similar file extension that can make it easy to confuse another format with the Norton Ghost Backup file format.

For example, GHB files are Lego Ghost Path files that might, at first glance, look to be related in some way to GHO files. However, if you try opening a GHB file in a Symantec program, it will not do what you expect, and the same is true in the reverse because the Lego Racers video game (which uses GHB files) has nothing to do with Norton Ghost Backup files.

If you don't really have a GHO file, double-check the suffix at the end of your file and research those letters and/or numbers to learn more about the program you need to view or convert it.F