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ThumbnailISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. You wouldn’t know it but it’s one of the most powerful non-governmental organizations in the world. These are the guys who set the universal benchmarks known as ISO standards.

Why are we discussing a world body in a tech site? It’s because they lend their name to a well known file format too.

The ISO file (.iso) is just an archive file format of an optical disk. It can be said to be an exact clone of a file system because it’s a byte for byte copy of a disk with all of its data and metadata. It’s a popular format for downloads and transport over the internet. Anyone who has downloaded a game, an OS like a Linux distro, or an OS update would know them by sight. Also, being an open standard format along with another called UDF it’s supported by all optical disc software.

ISO is not the only one of its kind. There are others, each created by a disk manufacturer and his competitor. Some others you may have come across include – img, bin, mdf, mds etc.

So how does one deal with these ISO files? There are several easy ways :

  • You can burn them directly to a disk.
  • You can open them like an archive (remember they are uncompressed archives) using archive tools like WinRAR.
  • You can mount them and treat it like a virtual drive.

Using widely available tools called free virtual drive software or Disk Emulators, it’s easy to mount an ISO file (or a disk for that matter) and use it as one would with a disk loaded in the CD tray.

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Let’s load with three simple and free virtual drive tools.

Virtual CloneDrive

Virtual CloneDrive is a light 1.5 MB download which supports all common image formats such as ISO, BIN, IMG, CCD, UDF, DVD etc.


Mounting an image file is as simple as double clicking it or selecting it with a browse from the system tray. Virtual CloneDrive can mount up to 15 virtual drives at the same time.


Virtual CloneDrive is supported by Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP/XP64/Vista/Vista64.

Note: During the installation an alert that Virtual CloneDrive has not passed the Windows Driver Signature Test and the Windows Logo Test crops up. Ignore and continue with the installation.


MagicDisc is another light free virtual drive tool, downloading at 1.3MB. MagicDisc supports a large number of image formats like ““


MagicDisc allows for the creation of 15 virtual drives and can also mount images on a networked machine. Mounting images is easy as the program also comes with an automatic image detection engine. MagicDisc can be set to auto-mount images after a reboot.


MagicDisc also comes bundled with a lot of other features like ““

  • It can make ISO images from a physical disk.
  • It has the ability to compress and encrypt ISO files.
  • It features an interface that can decompress UIF images to ISO format.

MagicDisc (v2.7.106) is supported by Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP /Vista/7.

DAEMON Tools Lite

DAEMON Tools Lite is the bulkiest of the trio with a 7.3MB download size. It is free for personal use. DAEMON Tools Lite supports a large number of image formats like ““

b5t (BlindWrite images)/b6t (BlindWrite images)/bwt (BlindRead images)/ccd (CloneCD images)/cdi (DiscJuggler images)/cue (Cue sheets)/ iso (Standard ISO images)/mds (Media Descriptor Files)/nrg (Nero images)/ pdi (Instant CD/DVD images)/ isz (Compressed ISO images).

DAEMON Tools Lite gives us four virtual drives to work with. The image files can be mounted from the tray icon with a right or a left click. An image catalog saves a record of all image files mounted.


Also, the DAEMON Tools Panel gives a convenient interface to all functions of DAEMON Tools.


The Mount’n’Drive Manager bookmarks all your image files to give one touch access to mount and use them. The manager handles all mounting and un-mounting functions of the image files.

The Disc Imaging utility is a handy for creating image files in MDS or ISO format from physical disks. The data can also be compressed or encrypted with a password.


The program’s settings also lists a host of functions like auto-mounting, blocking un-mounting while image is in use, hot key settings, association settings with image formats and an Advanced Tab which handles copy protection features.

DAEMON Tools Lite (v4.30.4) is supported by Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP /Vista/7.

Any of these three free virtual drive tools can stand up to the task of handling virtual disk jobs.We have previously featured a few other image mounting software’s on these posts…

How To Rip & Mount Multiple ISO Images Easily How To Rip & Mount Multiple ISO Images Easily (Windows) How To Rip & Mount Multiple ISO Images Easily (Windows) Read More
Mount Zip Files, CD/DVD Images & Encrypt Folders Mount Zip Files and CD/DVD Images with Pismo File Mount Mount Zip Files and CD/DVD Images with Pismo File Mount Read More
Mount CD or DVD Image Files Virtually Using A Portable App Mount CD or DVD Image Files Virtually Using A Portable App Mount CD or DVD Image Files Virtually Using A Portable App Read More

Which one is your pick? Let us know about your favorite tools to mount disks and ISO images.

Image Credit: bobbigmac

  1. Jazz
    May 22, 2015 at 2:39 am

    Daemon Tools Lite installs trojans and adware. DONT USE IT!

  2. العاب باربي
    January 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Yeah, but I couldn’t find a mention of it on the developer’s site. So, didn’t include it here. Thanks.

  3. Rick Siegert
    October 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I found a unique application that has an excellent Virtual Drive for up to 10 drives and a great application taskbar among other features. It really has too much going on to describe. But it is one of the most unique and most useful applications that I have seen in years. it is also freeware/ Donationware. It is called the Gizmo Toolbar. Its home page is

  4. 1fastbullet
    October 11, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    "ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization... These are the guys who set the universal benchmarks known as ISO standards."

    Is that redundant?

    • Saikat
      October 11, 2009 at 11:32 pm

      Nopes, why should it be? It's just information. Not many know that. It's also important to know the reason behind the names of certain formats.

  5. iç mimarlık
    September 30, 2009 at 4:32 am

    thanks for article and share..

  6. gordon
    September 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I installed Virtual CloneDrive and it
    tried to change my disk driver.
    That seems a little scary.
    Is that normal?

    • Saikat
      September 23, 2009 at 5:23 am

      No Gordon. it doesn't "change" anything but installs a driver of it's own. The virtual drive appears as a sheep icon. is it conflicting with the other drives in any way?

      • gordon
        September 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm

        Thanks for the explanation, the MS warning
        message was not clear. Guess I am getting old.
        I stopped the installation when I got that
        warning. I will try to uninstall and reinstall.

  7. Rick Siegert
    September 22, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I've been using Magic ISO very happily for a tutorial on a CD. Works very well for me.

  8. LinuxUser
    September 22, 2009 at 5:00 am


    A whole article dedicated to Windows fail. Yes I use Windows, and I like daemon tools lite, but I always thought it was funny how you even needed any of that. In Linux its built in, so guess what it takes to mount a cd/dvd? The command "mount"! That was so hard. And guess what it takes to copy or burn a cd/dvd? The command "dd". The fact that Microsoft intentionally left these features out to create a artificial market is BS! Besides Windows fails every time when you compare time and resources management for copying anything anywhere. Solution: Dual-boot and use your Linux machine to burn cd/dvds. Best part is that Linux will recognize fat, fat32, and ntfs patricians without the need for special "drivers".

    • Win7rox
      September 22, 2009 at 5:06 pm

      You so obviously missed the point. Now go and mount a .bin or .nrg image on your Linux box without additional software.

    • Rick Siegert
      September 23, 2009 at 6:48 am

      OK LinuxUser , so you are a Linux prophet. But of those preachers ranting on street corners, if I am to create a proper analogy. You know, the ones that people look at as they walk past? Well that is how you are about Linux. You may beleave in it strongly, but no one is going to listen through your brand of preaching to find about about it. Try to learn about presentation and teaching techniques and learn to practice it if you want to get your message across. Just friendly advice.

  9. G.A.L.E.S.L.
    September 21, 2009 at 11:55 am
  10. munkypint
    September 21, 2009 at 6:22 am

    I seem to be able to create ISO images very easily with different programmes. I have, however, always failed in buring them on a CD-Rom. Anyone know where instructions for this could be found?


  11. brian blesseds mum
    September 21, 2009 at 3:57 am

    magiciso ftl. only use it if people insist on using its bs file formats. glad to see virtual clone drive on the list though!

  12. F_O
    September 21, 2009 at 3:55 am

    Virtual CD control panel by MS. This nice tiny tools is hidden somewhere on the MS site. Not very "click 'n' mount", but incredibly small and portable. AFAIK, it mounts .iso only.
    Wasn't support for .iso added to MS-Vista?

  13. pete
    September 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    if you had a decent operating system they would be handled transparently.
    eg osx, linux/ubuntu.

  14. Winston Monroe
    September 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Beatle4, you completely missed the point of this article... it is about virtual CD/DVD drives/mounting software...not about "burning" image files...

  15. Bob
    September 20, 2009 at 8:24 pm
  16. lol@giving a name
    September 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I use Gizmo Central. Create, mount and burn iso files. plus text editor, hash calculator, database analyzer and script creator.

  17. PienaZupa
    September 20, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Actually Virtual Clone Drive supports Windows 7 both 32 and 64-bit too :)

    • Saikat
      September 20, 2009 at 11:00 pm

      Yeah, but I couldn't find a mention of it on the developer's site. So, didn't include it here. Thanks.

    • Mohammad Farzan Hussain
      October 8, 2009 at 1:15 pm

      Yes, I agree with you and the Virtual Clone Drive is the best software, that's why I use it...

  18. I know better
    September 20, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    what about WinCDEmu WinCDEmu? I used to use daemon tools until I found this nice util.

    • sal
      September 20, 2009 at 11:26 pm

      Agree with this commenter, WinCDEmu is by far a better option than those mentioned in this article.

    • Saikat
      September 20, 2009 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks for the link. Looks really simple and good.

  19. Beatle4
    September 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    The iso program that I use is really easy to use because all you have to do is point and click. It has to be one of the easiest I've ever found and it's free.


  20. Uni
    September 20, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Pismo File Mount

    Right click an iso -> quick mount. The iso is now a folder.

    • Saikat
      September 20, 2009 at 11:02 pm

      Yes, it's cool. We have covered it previously.

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