A disk image is a single file that packages all of the contents for a single disk, typically a CD or DVD (although image files can be created for hard drives as well). Disk images provide a convenient method for handling files that are to be burned onto a disk.
However, sometimes it may be inconvenient or impossible to burn a physical disk. There are a number of programs that will allow you to mount disk images files virtually as CD or DVD devices without having to burn them to physical disks (such as Pismo File Mount).
Unfortunately, most of these programs require the installation of drivers, creation of registry entries, and often ask you to reboot the machine. Such requirements make it difficult to use them as portable apps on a USB drive.
The Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel by Microsoft is the perfect solution for mounting disk images from a portable USB drive.
To use the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel:
- Download the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel v188.8.131.52
- Extract the contents of the self-extracting excecutable onto your portable drive. Be sure that there are no spaces in the path to the directory you create (i.e. extract into a directory called X:\PortableApps\VCDRom, not X:\PortableApps\Virtual CD ROM). Otherwise, you will encounter problems later.
- Launch the VCdControlTool.exe program
- Click the Driver Control … button
- Click the Install Driver … button
- Browse to the location of where you extracted the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel files, and use the VCdRom.sys driver file.
- Click the Start button.
- Click the OK button.
- Click the Add Drive button. You should see a new drive letter appear in the Virtual CDRom Control Panel window.
- Click the Mount button.
- Navigate to the location of your disk image file (.iso, .udf, .cdfs, .jo, and .rock files are supported) and open it.
The disk image is now mounted on the new drive letter that was created. To restore the system to its original state:
- Click the Eject button.
- Select the drive(s) that were added, in the Virtual CDRom Control Panel window.
- Click the Remove Drive button.
- Click the Driver Control … button.
- Click the Stop button.
- Click the Remove Driver button.
- Click the OK button.
At a mere 32.5KB, the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel is extremely small and is very fast. It works on Windows XP and should also work on Vista if launched as the Administrator. If you keep disk images on your portable drive, you’ll definitely want to check it out.
Do you maintain disk images on your portable drive? What tool(s) do you utilize to use your images?