An ISO file is an “image” of a CD or DVD. Much like a ZIP file, all of the files on a CD may be packed into a single file which represents all files on the CD as one *.ISO file. You can do the same things with an ISO file that you can with a tangible CD or DVD but without the physical media. CD’s and DVD’s can easily become scratched and aren’t very portable in large quantities. ISO images allow you to backup the physical disks and store them electronically for greater portability and efficiency.
For example, say you want to install a new release of Ubuntu Linux. You would go to the Ubuntu website and download an ISO file which would be much faster than waiting for a CD to be mailed to you. Traditionally, you would then burn that ISO image to a CD and then install Linux from the CD. (For information on how to burn a CD, check this out). “Mounting” and ISO image takes the plastic media out of the equation. Take it one step further, and you can see how many CD’s you will save from now on.
One of the major advantages of representing CD/DVDs on an ISO file is that you can access the data the same way you normally would, but without having the CD/DVD inserted into the optical drive on your computer!
Hopefully that was enough background on the topic. Let’s see how to do it…
How to mount an ISO image with Virtual Clone Drive
- First of all, you need an application that will let you “mount” the file. I use Slysoft’s Virtual Clone Drive because it works with both XP and Vista, it is stable, and most of all, it is free. (See my review of VCD for more info).
- Next, navigate to the ISO file that you have downloaded or created.
- You can right-click it and select Open With > Mount files with Virtual Clone Drive. If your ISO file is correctly associated with VCD, you can just double-click it to mount.
Now, go into explorer and check out what you’ve done. Right click the BD-ROM drive that you just mounted and Open or Explore it:
Once you access the mounted ISO file, you will see the files as if you inserted the plastic CD or DVD:
In the example above, double-clicking on setup.exe would begin the Windows XP install process.
When you are done using the image, you may simply right-click it again and choose eject, or keep the CD mounted as long as you need access to it.