Recovering From a Stuck Symantec Ghost Virtual Boot Partition

It seems that when you manage a bunch of machines with Symantec Ghost, you always end up with one or two that, for whatever reason, get stuck in the Ghost Virtual Boot Partition, and can’t boot back into windows. This can be really frustrating because you usually know what went wrong, and need to get back into Windows to fix the problem.

The good news is that setting the machine is really easy once you know how. I went through years of booting into DOS, and running fdisk from a floppy whenever this happened to me before I realized that fixing it is just a simple command that exists on the Ghost Virtual Partition.

Here is how it is done:

  • Stop Ghost and go to a DOS prompt:
  • If running the Ghost DOS client, NGctdos.exe, type Ctrl+X
  • If running the Ghost executable, Ghost.exe, type Ctrl+C
  • Change to the Ghost directory.
  • Type cd Ghost
  • Type ngctdos -hide

This last command hides the Ghost Boot Partition, makes the Windows partition active, and restarts the computer. You can then move on to fix the problem with minimal fuss, and get on with distributing the virus known as “Windows”.

45 thoughts on “Recovering From a Stuck Symantec Ghost Virtual Boot Partition

  1. Yep, I could’ve told you that 😉 I have found though that for one reason or another, a machine that does this, will continue to do it every time you reghost it and it becomes a royal pain in the ass. I’ve found that booting into windows, removing the ghost console client, rebooting then reinstalling the client will generally fix the issue. The most prevalent thing I’ve seen causing this is a corrupt file in the ghost partition.

  2. Dude,

    Alan gets hero of the month, but I get squat? Where’s the love man? 🙂 Gimme some dap! How about sidekick of the week?

    Hopefully, Alan’s trick will work in permanently fixing the problem. Will post to let you know how it goes…

  3. WOW… I’m sorry Brendon 🙁 I was in such a hurry when I wrote this up, that I totally forgot to give credit where credit is due. I’ve only had to unstick one ghost partition this semester, so the info doesn’t really qualify for “Hero of the Month”, but I think it’s better than “Sidekick of the Week”… Hum… Let’s call it “Ghost Guru of all Things Spiritual and Unbootable”. Sound good to you?

  4. My problem is that I don’t have a file named ngctdos.exe …my Ghost Directory has only ghreboot.exe, ghost.exe, gdisk.exe,ghstwalk.exe, ghwrap.exe, gscript.txt, args.txt…and NONE of the executable files work ! the other problem is that my computer doesn’t have a floppy drive, so I can’t boot from anything. Anyone have any ideas ??? Help????

  5. Did you try the Ctrl+c or Ctrl+x key combinations? Usually that is all I have to do to get back into windows. Beyond that, I would make a DOS bootable CD with fdisk on it, and remove the Ghost partition on your hard drive. If you go down this road, don’t forget to set the primary partition to be bootable. Good luck!

  6. I’d advise against using fdisk. The ghost partition is a virtual partition and I’m not sure fdisk will see and/or fix it properly.

    Those files you mention also don’t seem to line up with the version of ghost we’re running. What version are you running? And just to clarify, this is on a machine with the ghost console client only correct?

    Bootable CDs sound like your only option at this point, unless you can either a) boot from a usb key, or b) temporarily install a spare floppy in the machine that you can remove once it’s fixed.

  7. On what Ginny Gilmore said, I also have the following files in the GHOST directory. I ran GHREBOOT to boot back to Windows but it is stuck in the DOS mode…Is there a way to get back to Windows w/o doing the FDISK? How can I get back to Windows? Thanks.

  8. thanks guys I was stuck also had not ngctdos file in my ghost directory and had no floppy drive. I copied all the bootabable files unto a usb drive. change my bios to boot from the usb drive. My pc still was booting up in ghost. I had to go to the command prompt and type d: to go to the usb files and then go into fdisk and then change the active partition to my windows it booted up just fine. thanks for all the help

  9. Amazing – I had exactly the same problem yesterday myself and after trying various things like the foregoing ended up using the same method as matt. Boots fine, but still can’t get rid of the virtual partition. Googled abt for soln, and found this thread. Symantec says to use Gdisk, but that doesn’t work either, apparently since it’s not a real disk partition. Windows disk mgmt tool says virtual partition is in use (by what?!), and Partition Magic says it ain’t real -(we know that already). If I find the soln I’ll let u know.

  10. Gee this is all sounding so familiar… I have the same issue as nick, had to revert back to windows active partition with fdisk, but now can’t figure out how to get rid of the bloody virtual partition. Suggestions? ghost says it is version 2003, I also don’t have the ngctdos file.

  11. try this:
    1. boot using Ghost CD to the command prompt
    2. go to c: drive (where the virtual drive is)
    3. cd ghost
    4. >gdisk 1 /act /p:1
    5. >gdisk 1 /del /p:2
    6. remove any cd or floppy disk then reboot.

    with step 4 and 5, if the computer stops responding, try the /i option,
    4. >gdisk 1 /act /p:1 /i
    5. >gdisk 1 /del /p:2 /i

    hope this helps … it did with my case.

    • LIFESAVERS!!!!! …… I can’t belive it was that difficult to fix this stupid issue.

      try this:
      1. boot using Ghost CD to the command prompt
      2. go to c: drive (where the virtual drive is)
      3. cd ghost
      4. >gdisk 1 /act /p:1
      5. >gdisk 1 /del /p:2
      6. remove any cd or floppy disk then reboot.

      with step 4 and 5, if the computer stops responding, try the /i option,
      4. >gdisk 1 /act /p:1 /i
      5. >gdisk 1 /del /p:2 /i

      hope this helps … it did with my case.

  12. Wow thanks Badrah that’s fixed my machine after banging my head against a wall for days. I’ve never been so glad to see an XP splash screen! Thanks again dude.

  13. I found an old Win98 boot disk, and fdisk on it enabled me to make Windows bootable again by making that partition active. I was also able to delete the ghost partition using fdisk, by deleting the primary DOS (Ghost boot) partition, NOT the active, Windows partition.

    Whew!!! Thanks for this thread.

  14. Thanks for all the comments in this thread. You giys just saved me the trouble of rebuilding this machine. The gdisk command using the /act and /del commands worked perfectly.

  15. Here is how I dealt with the same problem. It might seem like my solution is like killing a mouse with a sledgehammer, but here it is.
    1. Download XPQuick and make bootable floppy.
    2. Boot from floppy (into XP! wah-hoo!)
    3. Go to Manage/DiskManagement and delete the Ghost virtual partition.
    4. Make Disk 0 active (right click/make active)
    5. Remove floppy and reboot.
    6. If you don’t boot into XP, do step #2 and go to:
    6a. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
    6b. Under System Startup, click Edit.
    6c. Copy and Paste the following into your Boot.ini file and Save:

    [boot loader]
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS=”Microsoft Windows XP Professional” /fastdetect

    I hope this helps. By the way Symantec sucks!

  16. You guys with the Fdisk idea are awesome! Made a Dos 6.22 boot cd (included FDISK), Changed the active partition to my Pre-Ghost partition, rebooted and … XP came up. Went into the disk managment tool and deleted the Ghost partition.. Good to Go… THANKS

  17. Badrah,

    Thanks for the information! You saved the day! I am certain that the FDISK method would have worked, but your GDISK commands worked flawlessly. THANKS again!

    And for everyone else that reads this thread about the Ghost Virtual Partition, do NOT use Ghost 2003 on an SATA hard drive. It is what screwed up my computer for a couple of days. It could not properly access my SATA drives once it booted into the Ghost Virtual Partition.

  18. hello to whoever is reading this, im in a very bad way..a friend of mine has a medium sized business,which utilizes point sales registers..the whloe thing is run by a old windows 98se system.. the hard drive was beginning to degrade..i managed to do a scan disk and made it stable enough to ghost it to a new hard ive used ghost before..but something happened and now like the other people of the posts made in 2005 ive got a non-bootable virtual drive.. i did this as a favor and are recieving no monies for it.. but if this if this partition is lost years of settings/adjustments will have to be made from scrath..the problems will just snowball..i need someones help very fairly compatant on a computer but am afraid to experiment with such a important irreplaceble item..could someone plz contact me directly by phone (605) 334 1342 if this needs to be posted,that is fine with me..after all..i was trying to help a i need someone elses help..thank you very much..kyle w burleson

  19. KYLR,
    It sounds like you’re just stuck in the virtual partition. In this case, any of the methods described above should help you get out of it. If all else fails, the fdisk method seems to be the most reliable.

  20. This is Kylr B issue details:30GB Drive
    Partition Table:
    System -Start CHS -LBA -Size
    0 FAT32 -0 1 1 -63 -29GB
    1 FAT32 -0 1 5 -67 -29GB
    2 FAT16
    3 FAT16
    Table 0 has no files. table 1 has all his old files but is missing the root and FAT table.
    Fdisk and Gdisk don’t see the #1 partition at all. I assume Ghost moved the orig partition to LBA 67. Looking to creat a parition table with a start LBA of 67.

  21. badrah – Awesome. You saved my bacon.

    I don’t know if this has been covered anywhere else, but I found out why my system was hanging in DOS while trying to create an image. On my ASUS mobo, I needed to set the ide configuration to “Compatible”. Once I did that, everything ran fine.

    Cheers all.

  22. [oops – wrong name!]

    badrah – Awesome. You saved my bacon.

    I don’t know if this has been covered anywhere else, but I found out why my system was hanging in DOS while trying to create an image. On my ASUS mobo, I needed to set the ide configuration to “Compatible”. Once I did that, everything ran fine.

    Cheers all.

  23. Question: I was able to reboot(and it is working normally EXCEPT when trying to back up) in Windows XP(description below) yet there is still VIRTPART.DAT file in C: I believe this Virtual partition file(notice there isn’t a bracketed [] item on the drive(which I believe is an actual virtual partition ..correct me if I am wrong) is causing an error whenever I try to back up using Windows Backup or running Ghost. Can I simply delete this file in Windows Explorer? My computer is operating properly(rebooted 20+ times) so my thinking is that the correct partition is set. I can’t see how deleting the file this way will cause a problem since it is booting properly. If I shouldn’t delete it this way, please tell me. Also, when I go to Disk management, It see Drive 0 and the 4 normal partitions. It doesn’t see a virtual partition.


    I had the same problem yet was able to reboot into Windows XP by using the SystemWorks 2004 Pro CD with Ghost 2003 on it to boot to run the virus scan. This takes you to A: then type C: then cd ghost. then ghreboot. Now Windo

  24. For those reading this later, the best answer I found to my question above is here:

    The best advice I have read on how to create a boot disk recovering from this Ghost problem is here.

    For me, when I ran ghreboot.exe this deleted the virtual partition. YET, Ghost still won’t work. One of the problems that Ghost has is running on a heavily fragmented computer. The MBR may be fragmented on my computer. Per Symantec recommendation, I am running Diskeeper. If you read the first link, one of the SYM employees talks about how Virtpart.Dat needs to install unfragmented.

    If you read here the whole way through, Sym list possible reasons for the cause.

    and here is where you can trouble shoot the problems.

    I hope saves you time as I have spent a ton of time on this issue.


  25. Hi

    {Directory has only ghreboot.exe, ghost.exe, gdisk.exe,ghstwalk.exe, ghwrap.exe, gscript.txt, args.txt…and NONE of the executable files work !}

    I am going to use the Fdisk on the system tonight, as my hard drive is one 40GB and the other Hard disk whcih is empty at present is 80 GB, i have disconnected all my other SATA drives.

    What do i change in fdisk to go back to windows, sorry guys i am not used to ghost 2003 or fdisk,

    i dont want to loose any data as i backedup some of my data on the c: drive before this happened. please email me on

    i just need to know what should i have to follow on fdisk, or it is something very straight forward.

    thanks alot for the threads think i will be able to do it. i hope so fingers crossed…..

  26. Badrah you are a life saver. I can finally go to bed now. Been working on this problem for the last 5 hours or so. I wasn’t looking forward to telling my wife that my simple Ghost backup of her only work computer managed to screw up her machine. Whew!!!

    Thanks man!

  27. DAVE

    The hammer with the mouse thing worked….I thank you deeply for saving my XP ass….You are right Ghost sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. I had a windows 98 bootable recovery CD. I booted through CD drive, found FDISK on that. It fixed my problem! Here is what you need to do. Find any bootable CD that has FDISK on it. Type FDISK, it will display options. Choose the option that displays all partitions. The Ghost Partition will be active. Change the active partition to that of the XP partition, Reboot and relax.

  29. And before I forget, thanks a lot all you guys for saving my day. Had a critical meeting tomorrow a laptop crash would have destroyed my week, who would have thought that an attempt to back up your machine would crash it!! Thanks again

  30. badrah!!!! you are the best! Thank you for the great resolution!!!

    this was the key:
    4. >gdisk 1 /act /p:1 /i
    5. >gdisk 1 /del /p:2 /i


  31. badrah . Many Thanks for the help , your way helped and fixed the computer in 1 minute !

    the option /i worked for me

    billion Thanks for your genius solution

  32. badrah

    You’re a genius. Your fix worked for me too. I had to use the /i but in the end all turned out well.

    Thanks a ton for posting the fix. Ghost has never done this to me before.

  33. Dear Badrah,

    thanks for your genial advice to recover from a stuck symantec ghost 2003 booting.

    changing the keyboard from an usb to ps/2 allowed typing and making partition 1 as active and delecting partition 2 helped that windows xp could boot again.
    >gdisk 1 /act /p:1 /i
    >gdisk 1 /del /p:2 /i

    Thanks a lot !

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