How to convert GHO to VHD file

I am going to describe a quick way to convert Symantec’s Ghost GHO file to Microsoft Virtual Hard Drive VHD file. The process will not require a setup of a virtual machine. You’ll need:

  • The VHDMount utility, which is distributed as a part of Microsoft Virtual Server but can be installed seperately.
  • The GHOST32 utility, which is a part of Symantec Ghost installation.

Prepare an empty VHD file

Use Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Virtual Server to create a new VHD file of desired size and form (fixed size or dynamically expanding). To get you started, I’ve prepared 130GB dynamically expanding new VHD file, you can download here.

I wrote another post about handling the VHD files, you can read here.

Install VHDMount utility

Download Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 or newer and run the setup. You can select to install the VHDMount utility only. I suggest a restart after the install.

Mount empty VHD file as local drive

Using VHDMount utility you can mount VHD file as a local hard drive. Execute:

vhdmount /p /f image.vhd

You should receive a “The Virtual Hard Disk is successfully plugged in as a virtual disk device.” response, followed by a series of “New hardware found” messages.

Copy GHO to VHD file

Run GHOST32 utility, which can be found in the directory where you’ve installed Symantec Ghost. Using the GHOST32 utility, you can restore GHO image file to any of the local drives (LocalDiskFrom Image). Make sure you choose the destination disk drive that represents the mounted VHD file, as you can easily overwrite any other local disk drive. Use GDISK32 utility to determine first which one is “MS Virtual Server” drive if uncertain.

Once transfer is complete you can safely choose not to restart the computer and just exit the GHOST32. Unmouting the VHD file is sufficient.

Unmount the VHD file

Use VHDMount utility once again to unmount the VHD file. Execute:

vhdmount /u image.vhd

16 thoughts on “How to convert GHO to VHD file”

  1. Thank you! I searched the entire day for a way to restore my .GHO image to run in my VM.


  2. Great techy workaround. saved me loads of time and kept my client happy.

    Many thanks for excellent work 🙂

  3. great post… i guess you could help me.

    in case i want to investigate a computer and doing data forensic, im trying to make an image of harddisk (or partition) that can be mounted (and accessed) as a clone of the real one.. but the image file needs to be in one large harddisk (for budget reason).

    please email me for the help.

    many thanks before.

  4. I was searching for a similar thing … Was just about to start with your solution (which sure would have worked just fine)

    Than via another Page I cam across the changes in Windows 7. In Windows 7 you can directly mount a vhd file as a virtual Drive via Computer Maintanance. Workes really great!!

    After I created such a Virtual Drive I used Ghost 11.5 and restored my GHO File to this Partition. Worked really great.

    Many thanks to you. Without your post I would not have been directed to tat solution

  5. I had fallow your steps, and have been studying this conversion method for about 3 days already.

    I got HirenBoot’s CD, which has bootable ghost32 2008 11.5.

    I have boot my comp with CD, then i backup the Original Partition to GHO. I formatted the original partition and used .GHO file, to recreate it. Work perfectly, i did this to check if the GHO File is working.

    After this i tried 2 ways to convert it to VHD, first i fallow your steps, i created a new hard drive in Microsoft Virtual Machine PC 2007 SP1, mounted the new partition (with VHDMOUNT) and restored the GHO file successfully. But when i try to boot it in the Virtual machine, it prompt the safe mode (such as F8), after this, it loads the progress bar, and after finish should come up the Windows XP logo, however it comes a black screen which will never disappear with blinking underline cursor.

    The same result happen when i make a virtual machine with 2 virtual HD, one with GHO file and the other with blank partition. So I restore the GHO file inside the virtual machine in the blank partition with BootCD, but result was the same.

    PS: I load the original partition and the gho partition copy in Virtual machine, which is inside original one. Do you think is this the problem?

    Wait for your help, thanks in advance

  6. I did this the easy way…

    1) I created a VM with XP installed and installed GHost for Windows
    2) I created a empty vhd and added it to the VM as drive D:
    3.) I copied the .gho file to the XP C: drive
    4.) I resorted the GHO to the D: drive
    5.) I setup a new VM using the drive that I just restored to as the C:
    drive of the new VM.

    Worked perfectly…It is the same as restoring to a new HD

  7. Thanks for the tip, i should have found this myself.

    You can do it even quicker using win7 where you can simply mount a vhd file:
    – computer management -> Storage -> Disk Management -> More Actions -> Create VHD
    – than on the bottom screen: right click the new disk and choose: Initialize Disk
    – OK
    Now you can restore directely to this disk.

  8. Michael,

    I followed your steps but after teh VHD is created, I do not have an option to INIT it.

  9. See i have made backup using Norton ghost 15
    now the question is how can I run this file in Dos…
    as when window is corrupt the only way is to run at MS DOS we start computer with CD Rom Support …
    n cant run this file in DOS
    So any 1 help me regarding this????? thnx in advance,,,

  10. If your GHO file is on the same disk together with corrupt Windows, your only choice is, you disconnect the disk and connect it as a secondary disk in some other computer with working Windows. The working Windows should then be able to see the files on your disk and enable you to do something with them.

  11. Simon I have the same issue as Regis above. Everytime I start my New .vmcx I get safe mode screen, I let the time run down and it just freezes on the Safe Mode screen. Any Ideas…probably created/mounted/ghosted 15 different times with different .gho files and still the same output. Any ideas would help…

  12. Hmmm… Johnny, your problem reminds me of my experience the other day. I had a problem relocating a hard drive with a Windows XP installation to another computer. It turned out to be an incompatible IDE driver issue, preventing the Windows XP to access the hard drive to finish booting.
    The following helped me boot the Windows XP on a new hardware:

    1. I had to put it back to original computer.
    2. Boot the Windows XP on the original computer.
    3. Replace the IDE drivers with Microsoft’s “Standard Dual-Channel PCI IDE Controller”.
    4. Move the drive to the new computer.
    5. Boot the new computer and upgrade the IDE drivers with appropriate for the IDE controller on-board the new computer.

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