What Is a GHO File?

This is the native Norton Ghost image format used to store a backup of a whole computer

What to Know

  • A GHO file is a backup of a hard drive, created by Norton Ghost.
  • Open one with Ghost Explorer or Symantec Ghost.
  • Convert from GHO to VHD to save the backup as a Virtual PC virtual hard disk file. 

This article explains what a GHO file is, how to open one on your computer to restore files from it, and how to convert one to a different file format.

What Is a GHO File?

A file with the GHO file extension is a Norton Ghost mirror image backup. It's a full copy of an entire hard drive, created using Symantec's Norton Ghost program. After the 2013 discontinuation of the software, GHO files could be created using Ghost Solution Suite.

Sometimes, this file is accompanied by GHS files, which are part files used to store disk images on smaller storage devices.

GHO files in Windows 10 that open with Ghost Explorer

How to Open a GHO File

GHO files might be able to be opened with Ghost Solution Suite (that link goes to Broadcom's website, the current owners of the software), but there's a good chance that program uses a newer format and doesn't support GHO files anymore.

A free alternative that's more likely to work is Ghost Explorer. It's a portable program that can extract particular files and folders from the backup and save them to a custom destination. Since it downloads as a 7Z file, you'll need to use 7-Zip to open it.

Some users have reported that Symantec Ghost 11.5 (that's an archive of the 2008 version) works, too. It's available as an ISO file that you need to boot to.

Symantec Ghost 11.5 browsing for GHO file
Symantec Ghost 11.5 browsing for GHO file.

How to Convert a GHO File

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

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

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 Simon Rozman's tutorial on converting GHO to VHD.

Still Can't Open It?

It's important to make sure that your file ends with the .GHO file extension because some files use a very similar extension.

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 like you would a GHO file, it won't 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 backups.

GLO is another that's used by RoboHelp glossary files, so opening one with the programs mentioned above wouldn't be helpful. HGT and HOG (game data for Descent 2) are similar.

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

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