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image mounting softwareThe ability to use a virtual drive to mount optical media from a file will undoubtedly save you time and effort, but if you’re a Windows user then your operating system can’t do it without a helping hand.

For years DAEMON Tools has been regarded by many as ahead of its class in this field, but it is not without its rivals. If you’re searching for a decent alternative then we’ve got 3 hot tips right here.

If you’re using Linux then you can get better instructions here How to Extract ISO Files With Linux How to Extract ISO Files With Linux Read More , these apps are Windows-only.

Do I Need A Virtual Drive?

You only really need a virtual drive if you want to mount image files. Image files are digital copies of optical media, such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Blu-Ray Technology History and The DVD [Technology Explained] Blu-Ray Technology History and The DVD [Technology Explained] Read More discs. It is possible to rip the entire contents of a CD (or other optical media), and then mount it with image mounting software.

The software (in this case DAEMON Tools) installs a virtual optical drive on your PC, which functions exactly the same as a normal drive – only instead of physical media, you feed it image files. You can then access the image file as if you had put a disc into your computer. If you download software or applications and want to avoid burning the downloaded file to a CD, then you can simply mount your chosen software in the virtual drive.

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You could even rip often used media so it’s that little bit easier to access. Using virtual drives in this way can vastly speed up your workflow, especially with multiple-disc installs.

DAEMON Tools Lite

There exists a free version of the commercial DAEMON Tools product line, DAEMON Tools Lite. This is the best alternative to the paid versions, with a few restrictions imposed over the pro edition. The interface is familiar and easy to use, and there’s plenty of power beneath the hood.

image mounting software

Not only will it mount a wide variety of familiar and obscure file types (.MDX, .MDS/.MDF, .ISO, .B5T, .B6T, .BWT, .CCD, .CDI, .CUE, .NRG, .PDI, .ISZ) but you can also have up to 4 simultaneous virtual drives (which should suffice for personal use).

DAEMON Tools Lite also includes the ability to make disc image files from your own optical media. As this is the free version, you can only rip to .MDS/*.MDF and .MDX.

Alternatives

Maybe you’ve tried DAEMON Tools, decided it’s not for you and fancy something else. You may also be one of the unlucky few who experience problems with the program, and need something a bit different.

Here are 3 good alternatives to DAEMON Tools that won’t cost you a penny.

WinCDEmu

The first on the list is the completely free and open source WinCDEmu. As there are no commercial versions of the software, the free version packs everything the developers could come up with into one cost-effective package.

image mounting programs

Mountable images are limited to: .ISO, .CUE, .NRG, .MDS/.MDF, .CCD and .IMG. This isn’t quite as many as DAEMON Tools, but the major formats are fully supported. WinCDEmu completely integrates with Windows Explorer, allowing you to simply double-click a supported image file for it to be immediately mounted. You can then unmount the disc image using the right-click context menu from My Computer.

WinCDEmu should suffice for most common disk image tasks. What’s more its free and open source to boot.

Alcohol 52%

daemon tools alternatives

Brought to you by Alcohol Software, Alcohol 52% is the smaller, non-commercial edition of the popular Alcohol 120% image tool. It supports the mounting of common image file formats and a maximum of 6 virtual drives in this free edition.

Alcohol does not integrate with Explorer quite in the same way as WinCDEmu, instead you must add your image files to Alcohol first and then double-click to mount them.

image mounting programs

This version is free for non-commercial and personal use only, otherwise you’ll need a licence. Don’t forget to uncheck that pesky Alcohol Soft Toolbar that’s bundled along!

Note: if you’ve been using Alcohol 120% and want to downgrade to this free version be sure to remove your old version first.

Virtual CloneDrive

image mounting

We’ve mentioned it before 3 Simple Free Virtual Drive Tools to Mount Disks & ISO Images 3 Simple Free Virtual Drive Tools to Mount Disks & ISO Images Read More , and for good reason. Virtual CloneDrive is a freeware image mounting tool with the usual support for common formats (including .ISO, .BIN and .CCD) and a whopping 8 virtual drives. You may get a Windows driver warning whilst installing, but soldier on and click Continue Anyway to proceed with the installation.

image mounting software

Once installed you can associate your image files with the program so that in future all it takes is a double-click to mount. Virtual CloneDrive is simple, cost-free and effective.

Conclusion

We’ve already covered a lot of optical media tools, but it’s always nice to have a selection. All of these programs should work on machines running the Windows XP, 2000, Vista and 7 operating systems. let us know if they work out better than DAEMON Tools for you.

Do you have any preferred image mounting software? Have your say in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

  1. Drew
    May 22, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Daemon Tools lite is a known malware vector. Even when unchecking the opt-in options in the setup, it installs code that accesses malware sites, which are very persistent. If you value your security and sanity, avoid Daemon tools altogether. There are reports that the pro version is shipped without malware, but I wouldn't risk it, and considering their underhanded practices in the free version, I would never support that product.

    I used Daemon tools for years, and never knew it was the source of my problems until finally stumbling upon other people's reports of it's nasty practices on malware removal help sites. A quick search for Daemon Tools malware will bring to light these underhanded tricks and backdoor installations. Hope you have a safe and malware-free online experience!

  2. DH
    December 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    WinCDEMu
    is a decent share

    +1

  3. khalid
    December 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    thanks Tim for great post.
    Daemon Tools Lite Free

  4. altugatik
    April 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Installed Daemontolls Light and using just the gadget on Win7. Very handy.

  5. Sgreen4
    April 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Try MagicDisc (which I use) or OSFMount which my friend uses. It can mount nearly ANY type of virtual disc, unix, vmware, and more!

  6. Tim Brookes
    March 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I've had plenty of issues with DAEMON and Win7, especially 64bit (though apparently a lot of the issues have been fixed these days).

    Glad CloneDrive worked out for you. Hope you're well, Jack!

  7. Guy
    March 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Virtual clonedrive is perfect. it does everything with ease and has never failed to work for me. the right click to mount is easy and 8 drives mean you can rock through it all.

  8. Josh Fox
    March 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I've been using Virtual CloneDrive and Alcohol 52% for a long time depending on my needs. Alcohol mounts a lot more image types, but uses a little more resources than Virtual CloneDrive. It does have Explorer integration. If you have it associated with the image files, all you need to do is double-click on the image to mount it. Or if you set another default program after associating Alcohol, you can right-click and choose "Mount Image".

    • Tim Brookes
      March 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

      I used to rely on Alcohol when I primarily used Windows, for some reason I always found it a bit nicer to work with than DAEMON Tools, which has on occasion thrown up some BSODs.

  9. Boussakka
    March 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Thanks Tim
    i think MagicDisc is the best mounting image free tool

  10. Jack Cola
    March 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I wish this post was published 2 days ago. I needed a Virtual Drive Clone so I could install a CD on my netbook because the Daemon Tools version I had didn't work with Windows 7.

    Anyway, I settled for Virtual CloneDrive which is even better than Daemon Tools

    • Tim Brookes
      March 15, 2011 at 11:02 am

      I've had plenty of issues with DAEMON and Win7, especially 64bit (though apparently a lot of the issues have been fixed these days).

      Glad CloneDrive worked out for you. Hope you're well, Jack!

      • Jack Cola
        March 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

        Yeah, I just couldn't get Daemon tools working on Windows 7, but CloneDrive 100% better! And I am very well? Yourself?

  11. Boussakka
    March 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks Tim
    i think MagicDisc is the best mounting image free tool

  12. Jack Cola
    March 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I wish this post was published 2 days ago. I needed a Virtual Drive Clone so I could install a CD on my netbook because the Daemon Tools version I had didn't work with Windows 7.

    Anyway, I settled for Virtual CloneDrive which is even better than Daemon Tools

  13. Mike
    March 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I used to run Microsoft Virtual CD but it seems not to work on every System (at least it didn't on one of my test machines)

    http://download.microsoft.com/...

  14. Mike
    March 11, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I used to run Microsoft Virtual CD but it seems not to work on every System (at least it didn't on one of my test machines)

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/b/6/7b6abd84-7841-4978-96f5-bd58df02efa2/winxpvirtualcdcontrolpanel_21.exe

  15. Jake
    March 11, 2011 at 6:06 am

    MagicDisc is the free alternative to MagicISO, and it's my favorite. It does exactly what I want, no frills.

  16. Dan
    March 11, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I used to like Daemon Tools, until they started "monetizing" downloads. Now I use VirtualCloneDrive. All is well.

  17. Abbas S
    March 11, 2011 at 5:08 am

    MagicDisc hasn't been mentioned at all? It is very good for daily use...

  18. Versatile
    March 11, 2011 at 4:23 am

    I love virtual clonedrive. There is something really sexy about being able to right click a .ISO file and mounting it on the spot without having to go down to the system tray to mount it.

  19. Lorddresefer
    March 11, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Magic ISO is my favorite followed by daemon tools lite... really surprised u guys put the trial version of alcohol but not MagicISO... talk about ignorance

    • Tim Brookes
      March 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

      Alcohol 52% (the version I have linked to) is freeware, no trial or expiration date! Alcohol 120% is the paid, commercial version which does initially come as shareware.

  20. jasray
    March 11, 2011 at 2:40 am

    No! I use Magic ISO--it's been quite good to me, faithful and friendly.

  21. Azefze
    March 11, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Wow, let's totally ignore MagicIso virtual CD/DVD manager

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