GhostBuster: remove ghosted devices on Windows

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 14, 2018
Updated • Feb 14, 2018

GhostBuster is a free portable open source program for Microsoft Windows devices to enumerate and remove so-called ghosted devices on the operating system. We reviewed GhostBuster back in 2012 for the first time.

A ghost device refers to a device that was connected to a Windows machine in the past but is no longer connected to it. Whenever you connect a new device to a Windows PC, Windows stores records of it in the Registry.

This can be a mouse or keyboard, a hard drive, computer monitor, or any other device.

These records remain on the system when you disconnect the device again and they are not removed automatically. While you can use the Windows Device Manager to remove individual items, programs like GhostBuster provide you with a better, easier to use interface.


You can run a portable version of GhostBuster or install it. The program enumerates all devices and highlights ghosted devices so that you can distinguish them from active devices right away.

Devices are grouped which improves accessibility. You can hide all active devices with a right-click and the selection of "hide unfiltered devices" from the context menu.

This makes it a lot easier to go through the list of ghosted devices before you decided what to do about them.

The right-click menu offers interesting options that help you analyze individual devices. You may use it to open the device properties which you may find useful as it reveals detailed information on the selected device which you may need to identify it properly.

device properties

Another option is to open the device's entries in the Windows Registry.

The right-click menu lists options to add the selected device to the removal list. Other options include adding devices by class or wildcard.

GhostBuster lists the selected action under "match type" in the table. It is recommended that you check the "create System Restore checkpoint" option before you hit the "remove Ghosts" button. The action requires elevation but should complete without issues.

GhostBuster's latest version supports additional features like the option to create a system restore point prior to removing devices from the system.

Closing Words

GhostBuster is a useful administrative tool for Windows to remove records of devices that you won't connect to Windows again, to remove records of device connections, and to remove device information to start anew when you connect the device the next time to the Windows machine.

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  1. Dave P said on May 20, 2023 at 5:23 pm

    Worked OK on XP and Vista (still does, as the elderly machines are still running!) but doesn’t seem to do its stuff on Win 10. Have three machines running Win 10 pro, 64-bit and get no deletion working from Ghostbuster on any of them.Tried running as administrator but no joy on that.

  2. Software tester said on February 13, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    Unfortunatelly It doesn’t work

  3. frkrkkdjgjnhgjg said on June 24, 2021 at 8:46 pm

    this is not working

  4. Joost said on February 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm
  5. KeZa_BE said on February 15, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Xp startup +-7 seconds faster when cleaning up the unused devices…

  6. Franck said on February 15, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Very nice tool, thanks a lot for sharing !

  7. michlind said on February 15, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Great tool. I had a several month old issue on my Win 7 Pro laptop’s LCD where it showed a lighter area about 2 inches wide from top to bottom. Since running Ghostbuster, and upon reboot, it is gone. My screen is back to normal. Wow! All along I thought this was a hardware issue. Apparently not. :-D

    Thanks, Martin.

  8. Jojo said on February 15, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Doesn’t work. I am seeing devices that are live on my system right now listed as “Ghosted”.

    Also unsure if it is listing a device as Ghosted if it is merely turned off (like a 2nd monitor I have that I rarely use). If that counts as Ghosted, then you’ll need to be very careful at what you remove.

  9. Sebas said on February 15, 2018 at 7:17 am

    DriverStore Explorer and DeviceCleanup are good portable alternatives.

  10. P said on February 14, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Not working for me either, W7Pro. After clicking ‘Remove Ghosts’, nothing happens, even run as admin.

  11. JD said on February 14, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Would be great…if it worked. Oh and didn’t flag up on Windows as potential malware.

    1. TQ said on February 14, 2018 at 8:23 pm


  12. E said on February 14, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    How does this differ from Device Cleanup Tool? made by

  13. kalmly said on February 14, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks. I need this app for my new previously owned Win 7 machine.

  14. JoanPaulthe99th said on February 14, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Excellent tool, I’ve been using it since the day you review it on every windows installation

    Another nice and relatively new tool i’d recommend is

    “XTR Toolbox”

    Was among the best freeware apps of february 2018 on the German

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