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To remove GoBack from a hard drive that won’t boot

I got this off BleepingComputers so I must credit them.

To remove GoBack from a hard drive that won’t boot (try this first):

  1. Norton makes a small utility to do this.
  2. Download the file: ftp://ftp.symantec.com/public/english_us_…ack/NGBBoot.iso
  3. If that link doesn’t work, you can download it from the page I found it on, here (look for a gold button that says “Download”): http://service1.symantec.com/support/gobac…nam&seg=ag
  4. Burn this image to a CD. Most CD burning programs can burn iso images, but if you have a doubt, get a copy of Nero 6 or 7.
  5. Boot to this CD. If for some reason you cannot boot to this CD, read through the ENTIRE next step for a solution.
  6. You’ll get a menu. Choose the first option, which should read something like “Unhook Norton GoBack from MBR.” If you do not get this menu, or the menu option doesn’t do anything after you pick it, there is still hope. There’s just one file off of this CD you need, gb_prog.exe, and it doesn’t matter how you run it. You may boot to a DOS prompt using any boot disk you want, win 95, 98, ME, or any version of PC-DOS. You can even use another computer to copy the gb_prog.exe file onto a bootable floppy. When you’re at the DOS prompt, just type “gb_prog /u” without the quotes. That “/u” is critical, make sure it’s there.
  7. You’ll get the Norton GoBack splash screen, and you might even get that progress bar that moves down towards the left hand side of the window it’s in. Don’t panic. This is supposed to happen.
  8. After a few seconds it will ask you if you want to uninstall Norton GoBack. I feel I should warn you at this point that uninstalling GoBack WILL erase all of the restore points you made with it. You must click the “Yes” button for this to uninstall the program.
  9. If all goes well, you will not get a popup error message. However, if GoBack is corrupted or damaged, you might get a message that reads: “Norton GoBack (141). Norton GoBack needs to reboot your computer because your system has become unstable. This could be caused by memory failures, unreliable hard disk transfers, or overclocking the CPU or other components.” If you get this message, it is most likely Symantec trying to BS its way out of making bad software. You probably don’t have a hardware problem, you probably have a corrupted version of GoBack. This is not the end of the world! The other sections of this guide will still work for you, so you can still backup your data and reinstall Windows. If you have a doubt you may check your memory and hard drive using software diagnostic tools.
    Memtest86 is a good one for RAM…
    Main Site: http://www.memtest86.com
    Direct Link to Bootable ISO: http://www.memtest86.com/memtest86-3.2.iso.zip
    And for Hard Drives, the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test will scan all brands, even those not made by Hitachi…
    Main Site: http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm
    Direct Link to Bootable ISO: http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/down…32_v408_b00.iso
  10. After a few minutes the system should dump you to a DOS prompt. If it does, you have successfully removed the plague.

To perform a complete reinstall of Windows (This will erase ALL your data):

  1. This one’s easy. Insert your Windows disc into the CD drive and boot from it.
  2. You’ll get the message “Press any key to boot to CD…..” Mash your fist into the keyboard. You’ll only have a few seconds, and if you miss this step it’ll start booting to the hard drive.
  3. Let it load all it’s drivers. You’ll then get the menu which asks you whether you want to install windows, load the recovery console, or quit. Choose to install Windows (by pressing Enter).
  4. You must agree to the EULA by pressing F8.
  5. Find your main boot partition in the list of partitions. Be sure you’ve selected the right partition. If you don’t know what you’re doing, stop and get some help. Otherwise you might blow away the wrong hard drive, and any data that was on it. Your boot partition might show up as NTFS, but don’t be fooled, it won’t be mountable under Windows. Highlight the partition and press D.
  6. Setup may tell you that the partition is a system partition. Continue with deleting this partition by pressing Enter.
  7. Setup will give you one last chance to abort the delete. This WILL destroy all data on the partition. If you have any doubts, press Esc to cancel. Otherwise, press L to delete everything. This is not undoable.
  8. The name of the partition will change to “Unpartitioned Space.” Highlight it (make sure you’re on the right hard drive!) and press Enter to install Windows.
  9. To be on the safe side, do NOT choose a Quick format.
  10. Continue with Windows Setup as usual. GoBack will not return on bootup, and has been erased from your hard drive.
  11. If you have more than one hard drive, chances are Norton GoBack is on BOTH of them. You will probably not be able to see your slave drive when you’re finished with Windows Setup. There are two ways to fix this. If you want to erase your slave drive completely, you may reformat it by going to Start -> Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Storage -> Disk Management. It is not enough to just reformat the same partition, you must actually delete the old partition and create a new one. If you have data you need to save, see the procedures below for data backup.

To perform a repair install on Windows (Won’t erase your programs or data, but doesn’t always work):

  1. Turn your computer on. DO NOT insert your Windows CD. Allow it to boot normally to the hard drive.
  2. You should see the Norton GoBack splash screen, and a window with the progress bar that quickly moves to the left. Press the spacebar before this progress bar depletes to bring up a list of boot options. If you weren’t fast enough, reboot your computer and try again.
  3. The smaller window will disappear and a larger window will come up, with four buttons in a column on the left hand side.
  4. Do not push any buttons. Insert your Windows CD into the CD Drive.
  5. Now push the lowest button which should be labeled “Floppy/CD Boot.” This button will enable you to boot from a CD and will also unlock the hard drive.
  6. After pressing the button you’ll get a black screen and text will appear which says “Attempting to boot from Floppy… Attempting to boot from CD…” This should cause Windows Setup to start loading. However, GoBack only scans the first CD drive it finds for bootable media. If you have more than one CD drive, you may get a message like “Bootable Device not found. Press any key to try again.” Don’t panic. Press any key, or alternatively smash your fist into the keyboard, to force GoBack to scan ALL the CD drives for bootable CDs.
  7. Windows Setup will likely give you the message “Press any key to boot from CD…..” You must push a key before this timer runs out, and you will only have a few seconds. If you miss your opportunity, repeat this process starting from step 1. Don’t forget to REMOVE your Windows CD from the drive before rebooting.
  8. Let it load all its drivers. You’ll then get the menu which asks you whether you want to install windows, load the recovery console, or quit. At this point, you may choose to launch the recovery console, and it will be able to read your drive. However, the recovery console is really quite useless unless you’ve got one or two files that you desperately need to copy to a thumb drive. Recovery Console is incapable of doing entire drive copies, in fact there are sections of the drive that Recovery Console doesn’t have access to, so that makes it inadequate for most data backup uses. This author recommends you choose to install Windows (by pressing Enter). You will shortly be prompted to initiate a repair install, which will SAVE your programs and data.
  9. Agree to the EULA by pressing F8.
  10. You may see a brief message at the bottom of the screen about scanning the hard drive for previous installs of windows. A screen SHOULD appear telling you that Setup found a copy of Windows already installed on your hard drive. It will display the list of Operating Systems it finds on your drive in a box in the middle of the screen. There will probably be only one entry in this box, it will read something like “C:\Windows”. If you do not get this screen, it means Windows is too badly damaged to repair. DO NOT CONTINUE. If you don’t get this screen it will instead show you a list of partitions that are on your drive, and give you the option to create partitions, delete partitions, and install Windows. Continuing from this screen will erase any data that is on your hard drive. If there is data you need on your drives, refer to the data backup section of this guide.
  11. If you got the right screen, it will give you two options, to repair the existing installation by pressing Enter, or to install a fresh copy by pressing escape. If you see more than one listing in the box, highlight the drive you want fixed, and push Enter. Do not push Escape, as it will then switch to “Fresh Install” mode and ask you which hard drive you want to erase.
  12. Setup will modify your Windows system folders by deleting everything there and copying new files. Your data and programs will not be affected. It will then reboot your computer.
  13. You will be taken to the Windows Setup process, which looks exactly the same as when you first installed Windows. Do not panic. Once again, your data and programs will not be affected. Complete the Setup process as normal.
  14. Your computer will be rebooted again. If the Repair install worked, you will be asked to activate Windows, type in the names of user account, setup your internet connection, etc. You will then be taken to your regular desktop. But be advised that repair installs don’t always work. If you are still having the same problem you started with, try another section of this guide.

To load diagnostic tools from a bootable floppy or CD:

  1. Hardware diagnostic tools (RAM testers, Hard Drive Fitness testers) should work without any trouble. It’s the software testers (such as CHKDSK) that won’t be able to read the drive.
  2. Turn your computer on. DO NOT insert any bootable media. Allow it to boot normally to the hard drive.
  3. You should see the Norton GoBack splash screen, and a window with the progress bar that quickly moves to the left. Press the spacebar before this progress bar depletes to bring up a list of boot options. If you weren’t fast enough, reboot your computer and try again.
  4. The smaller window will disappear and a larger window will come up, with four buttons in a clumn on the left hand side.
  5. Do not push any buttons. Insert your CD or floppy into the drive.
  6. Now push the lowest button which should be labeled “Floppy/CD Boot.” This button will enable you to boot from a floppy or CD and will also unlock the hard drive.
  7. After pressing the button you’ll get a black screen and text will appear which says “Attempting to boot from Floppy… Attempting to boot from CD…” This should cause your bootable disk to start loading. However, GoBack only scans the first CD drive it finds for bootable media. If you have more than one CD drive, you may get a message like “Bootable Device not found. Press any key to try again.” Don’t panic. Press any key, or alternatively smash your fist into the keyboard, to force GoBack to scan ALL the CD drives for bootable CDs.
  8. Note that this is not always successful. In lab tests, I was unable to get pre-installed Windows environments (such as BartPE) to access the drive, even after the GoBack drivers were loaded. The only pre-installed operating systems that I found could read the drive were Linux-based. I recommend Knoppix (a bootable pre-installed Linux environment based on Debian core) for diagnostic and data backup. Refer to the data backup section of the guide for detailed instructions on how to use Knoppix to back up your data.
    Knoppix 4.0 (5.0 is out, but I haven’t worked with it)
    Main Site: http://www.knoppix.org
    Direct Link to Bootable ISO: http://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNO…05-09-23-DE.iso
    Most CD burning programs can burn iso images, but if you have a doubt, get a copy of Nero 6 or 7.

To back up your data off of a GoBack drive:

  1. You will need a copy of Knoppix for this. Why Knoppix? Two reasons. First, Windows Recovery Console can copy only one file at a time, and does not have access to the whole hard drive. So even if you were to get at all the files you needed, you’d have to retype the copy command for every file you wanted copied. Second, all the pre-installed Windows environments I tried (for example, BartPE) were unable to read the drive even after GoBack was temporarily disabled.
  2. You must download and burn a copy of Knoppix to CD. Both Knoppix 4.0 and 5.0 are available, but I have only tested the following procedure with Knoppix 4.0, which is what I’m going to recommend and provide links for. This will be a very long download. (about 500MB)
    Knoppix 4.0
    Main Site: http://www.knoppix.org
    Direct Link to Bootable ISO: http://ftp.uni-kl.de/pub/linux/knoppix/KNO…05-09-23-DE.iso
    Most CD burning programs can burn iso images, but if you have a doubt, get a copy of Nero 6 or 7.
  3. If you intend to back up to another hard drive, you must attach it before turning on the computer. Please note that this hard drive must be formatted with FAT32 or a Linux-native file system. Knoppix cannot write to NTFS!
  4. Turn your computer on. DO NOT insert the Knoppix disk. Allow it to boot normally to the hard drive.
  5. You should see the Norton GoBack splash screen, and a window with the progress bar that quickly moves to the left. Press the spacebar before this progress bar depletes to bring up a list of boot options. If you weren’t fast enough, reboot your computer and try again.
  6. The smaller window will disappear and a larger window will come up, with four buttons in a column on the left hand side.
  7. Do not push any buttons. Insert your Knoppix CD into the drive.
  8. Now push the lowest button which should be labeled “Floppy/CD Boot.” This button will enable you to boot from the CD and will also unlock the hard drive.
  9. After pressing the button you’ll get a black screen and text will appear which says “Attempting to boot from Floppy… Attempting to boot from CD…” This should cause your bootable disk to start loading. However, GoBack only scans the first CD drive it finds for bootable media. If you have more than one CD drive, you may get a message like “Bootable Device not found. Press any key to try again.” Don’t panic. Simply restart the computer and try another CD drive. Make sure the CD has been removed completely before you restart.
  10. If Knoppix boots properly, you should get a splash screen with a picture of a speedometer on it. A prompt will say “Press Enter to boot:” Press Enter.
  11. Knoppix will load its various drivers and will display this information in multi-colored text on the screen. When Knoppix is finished loading, you should see a desktop similar to that of Windows XP.
  12. Your hard drives are listed in a column on the left hand side. Linux assigns drive letters a little differently so your hard drives will show up as hda, hdb, hdc, and so on. Hard rives with multiple partitions will be given numbers, such as hda1, hda2, hda3 and so on. You may right click on any of the icons and click properties to find out the size of the drives or partitions.
  13. You may double-click the drive icon to view its contents. This can take a few seconds, so if a blank window comes up, don’t panic, it will shortly be filled in with your data.
  14. If you want to back up to a floppy disk, you may insert it now. Your floppy drive shows up as fda.
  15. If you want to back up to a thumb drive, you may insert it now. A thumb drive will likely show up as another hard drive. If Knoppix does not autodetect the thumb drive, try repeating this procedure from step 4, but leave your thumb drive attached. When you see its icon, right-click on its icon and point to Actions. Then choose “Change Read / Write Status,” normally the uppermost option. A window will appear asking if you want to convert the volume into write mode. You must click “yes”. Also note that Knoppix (and all linux operating systems) CANNOT write to NTFS volumes. If you want to back up to this thumb drive, it must be formatted with FAT32 or a linux-native file system. Knoppix contains a program for formatting drives with FAT32, it’s called QTPartEd and you should be able to look in the help file to figure out how it is used. Be advised that formatting a drive will probably erase it.
  16. If you want to back up to a hard drive, it must be attached before the system is powered on. If you have not done this, repeat this procedure starting from step 3. Right-click on its icon and point to Actions. Then choose “Change Read / Write Status,” normally the uppermost option. A window will appear asking if you want to convert the volume into write mode. You must click “yes”. Make sure you get the right drive! Note that Knoppix (and all linux operating systems) CANNOT write to NTFS volumes. If you want to back up to this hard drive, it must be formatted with FAT32 or a linux-native file system. Knoppix contains a program for formatting drives with FAT32, it’s called QTPartEd and you should be able to look in the help file to figure out how it is used. Be advised that formatting a drive will probably erase it.
  17. You can copy and paste files just like you were in Windows. The Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V shortcuts work just fine. Note that this data backup will take an unusually long time. Be patient. Even when the meter reads “stalled,” it’s not true, it’s just moving so slowly that Knoppix can’t pick up on it. It took me about 8 hours for 60GB of data. If your backup is taking an absurdly long amount of time, (I’m talking days) retry this procedure from step 3. If that fails, you may want to examine your hard disks and memory for errors using diagnostic utilities.
    Memtest86 is a good one for RAM…
    Main Site: http://www.memtest86.com
    Direct Link to Bootable ISO: http://www.memtest86.com/memtest86-3.2.iso.zip
    And for Hard Drives, the Hitachi Drive Fitness Test will scan all brands, even those not made by Hitachi…
    Main Site: http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/download.htm
    Direct Link to Bootable ISO: http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/support/down…32_v408_b00.iso
  18. Power down the system using Knoppix’s shutdown command. DO NOT just pull the plug.
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