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mount isoMy computer doesn’t have any optical drives anymore. That means CD drives, DVD drives, Floppy drives–they’ve all been cut out and done away with forever. If a particular piece of peripheral gear doesn’t have a USB interface, then it won’t be dealing with my PC. But luckily, even if you don’t have a CD or DVD drive, you can still find use in a disc by using the ISO format.

The data on an optical disc is referred to as a “disc image.” The most common format of disc image is .ISO, an internationally accepted format for archiving data onto optical discs. If you don’t have the physical copy of a specific disc, you can still obtain it in digital form by grabbing an ISO image of it. On the flip side, if you have an optical disc, you can duplicate its data by creating an ISO image of your own.

If this sounds difficult, then don’t fret. It’s really no tougher than moving files around and clicking buttons. Most ISO manipulating programs are extremely straightforward and easy to use. Here are some of the best ones you’ll find on the Internet without having to pay a single cent.


mount iso

Just recently I realized that my current PC didn’t have an ISO program on it, so I looked around and stumbled across WinCDEmu, an open-source one-click disc image mounting tool. I immediately fell in love with the simple interface. I don’t even need to open any programs; just right click on the .ISO file, select Mount, done.

ISO creation is just as simple. Insert a disc into your optical drive, right click on the drive, select Create, done. Name the resulting file and it’ll be ready to go instantly.

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WinCDEmu is versatile in that it supports disc image formats of multiple types: ISO, CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, and IMG. Unlike most free mounting tools, WinCDEmu can handle an unlimited number of virtual drives.

Available for Windows XP, Vista, and 7.


mount iso image

Another lightweight ISO management tool in the same vein as WinCDEmu is ImgBurn. This tool packs a serious punch for its size, being able to handle the image files of CDs, DVDs, HD-DVDs, and Blurays. If I wasn’t already a WinCDEmu user, ImgBurn would be top on my list.

Out of the box, ImgBurn supports numerous image types: ISO, BIN, CUE, IMG, NRG, CCD, CDI, DVD, GI, MDS, DI and PDI. I haven’t even heard of half of those formats.

ImgBurn can create ISO images of your optical discs, create ISO images out of scratch, write ISO images to a disc, verify the integrity of a disc’s readability, and more. It’s designed so that any newbie can pick it up right away, but advanced users will prosper from ImgBurn’s configurability.

Available for Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and 8.

Virtual CloneDrive

mount iso image

SlySoft’s Virtual CloneDrive is one of the better known ISO management tools out there. It mounts images with a simple double-click and supports up to 8 separate virtual drives at a time. Plus, it supports all of the common image formats, including BIN, CUE, and CDD. Unlike SlySoft’s others software packages, this one is completely free.

Available for Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7.

Daemon Tools Lite

mount iso image

A long time ago–I’m talking nearly half a decade–Daemon Tools used to be the household name for ISO-related tools. Nowadays, there are so many free alternatives that Daemon Tools has fallen a bit by the wayside. The Lite version can be obtained for free, but it lacks in everything but the most basic of features.

If all you need to do is mount a basic image file, then it will suffice. If you want to do anything more advanced, you may run into some limitations unless you pay around 15 Euros for the premium version.

Available for Windows 98, XP, Vista, 7 and most recently, Mac OS.


mount iso

AcetoneISO is an ISO management tool aimed primarily at users on Linux-based platforms. It’s an open-source software package that can handle free and proprietary disc image formats, including ISO, BIN, NRG, IMG, NDF, and more.

Many Linux gurus could probably burn entire archives full of CDs and DVDs using nothing but the terminal, but Linux newbies will find this program to be invaluable when dealing with disc images. Burn images to CDs and DVDs, convert images from one format to another, generate ISO files from scratch or from a disc–AcetoneISO can do it all and more.

Packages available for Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Archlinux, Slackware, and Gentoo.

Image Credit: DVD Image Via Shutterstock

  1. mmel
    June 25, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I am not very computer literate, but my new laptop doesn't have a disc drive. How do I make an iso file of a disc if I don't have a disc drive?

  2. Nag
    May 5, 2016 at 4:14 am

    WinCDEmu is Simply super..

    • Joel Lee
      May 13, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      I've been using WinCDEmu lately and it's really good. I wish I knew about it years ago. Thanks Nag.

  3. Wm
    January 19, 2015 at 9:07 am

    How about Mac? I use Daemon Tools on Windows, but it is not free on Mac...

  4. Bob
    January 16, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Creating a single virtual dvd for fooling games into believing that Disc 1 is indeed in the drive is an excellent idea. But what about games with more than one dvd/cd installation discs?

  5. Binosh Augusthy
    December 21, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    If anybody wants to install any type of OS, Bootware..etc via USB ( Means boot iso from USB drive ) the only good option is "Easy2Boot_v1.29" + "RMPrepUSB". It can boot all windows versions,( XP to 10) and Acronis and all type of recovary software iso's in a single flash drive.
    There is no needs to writing any iso file , just copy and paste appropriated folder and boot the disk and select the iso in a menu. the only one problem is the site's help is messy. you can boot, recovery via ghost and acronics and all other tricky parts of computer via this softwares.

    • Soni
      November 29, 2015 at 11:23 am

      What are the steps for Acronis TI iso as extracted file size is less than actual iso file .Hence pendrive is not bootable . For win OS and hirens Boot cd, yumi is a better option.

      (YUMI – Multiboot USB Creator | USB Pen Drive Linux

  6. harley bellwood
    February 27, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I use ImgBurn.

  7. Martin Ristovski
    January 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I use Daemon Tools Lite. It has all the features I need and has a simple interface.

  8. Martin Ristovski
    January 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I use Daemon Tools Lite. It has all the features I need and has a simple interface.

  9. Martin Ristovski
    January 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I use Daemon Tools Lite. It has all the features I need and has a simple interface.

  10. Martin Ristovski
    January 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I use Daemon Tools Lite. It has all the features I need and has a simple interface.

  11. Paul Pruitt
    December 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    If the problem is that you have a CD/DVD drive but Windows is not recognizing it, try my CD-DVD troubleshooter:

  12. Anonymous
    October 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I was just getting along with this .ISO type files recently and I use Virtual CloneDrive. It's working fine. Wonder, what exactly is the best free tool in this category you guys think?

  13. Bobby Rosales
    September 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I use daemontools lite for mounting ISO. I used it for years/

  14. bonioloff
    September 19, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Daemon tools is good, i have using it from the first time i know about computer,, :D
    7years ago i think ..

  15. Fernando Garza
    September 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    The best two are Virtual CloneDrive and ImgBurn.

  16. c
    September 18, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Being a newbie I have not had much success in using .ISO files. I will add this information to my .iso file database and hope to learn from this and other comments what to use and how to use it.

  17. Shanmuga Navaneethan
    September 18, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Very Nice and Fabulous Article. Step by step guide Very useful for those using Virtual drivers

    Instal and Enjoy

  18. Matrix5
    September 18, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Thk's for that I;ll have to remember that I have a Laptop with a burnt out cd/dvd player

  19. Kp Rao
    September 17, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    i face this problem after i read this i solve this issue

  20. Pedro Oliva
    September 17, 2012 at 3:06 am

    great post :) i use WinCDEmu i think is the best for this... but i think Alcohol 120% or 52% are great and useful software for this task :)

  21. Igor Rizvi?
    September 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    there is also a free program called iso burn just for iso files:) i recommend it

  22. foo
    September 16, 2012 at 2:05 am

    What does mount mean? Or what is this tool for? If I mount a Linux iso, would I be able to run it like a live CD? I tried Virtual CloneDrive before but I was only able to view the contents like I would have been with 7zip. What am I missing?

    • Joel Lee
      September 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      If you right click the virtual drive, there should be an option along the lines of "Run" or "AutoPlay" or something. If not, then I'm not sure. You can just run the .exe straight from the contents window.

    • Del
      September 17, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      To "mount" means to perform an action in the operating system which makes a storage device or a writing device available to the operating system,such as clicking on an icon or using a command to mount a harddrive,optical drive or usb memory stick.

    • foo
      September 18, 2012 at 5:01 am

      Thanks, guys.

  23. IamAshMcLean
    September 16, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Mounting disk for me is the best way to use disks specially when you are using a Netbook or an UltraBook. I use PowerISO in my opinion, is the best ;)

  24. Vishal Mishra
    September 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I use virtual clonedrive and it is working smoothly, it's light and fast and does not require a computer restart after installing the software.

  25. GrrGrrr
    September 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks Joel.
    I have one question - could virtual drivees be used for OS installation, meaning can we mount an ISO image to a virtual drive and install OS, and after it restarts multiple times - where it would find the virtual DVD?

    • Joel Lee
      September 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      The answer is: it depends.

      If you want to run a completely fresh installation of an OS, then no. The hard drive will be formatted during the installation and the virtual drive information will be lost in the process, meaning that the installation will be halted. If you want to do this with an ISO, your best bet is to do something like install from a USB flash drive.

      If you have a secondary partition separate from your main OS, however, you can mount a virtual drive and install it that way. The formatting of the secondary partition will not interfere with your main OS (which has the virtual drive info), so everything should go smoothly.

      • GrrGrrr
        September 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

        thanks, got it.

  26. Noman Fayez
    September 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I use Virtual Clone Drive and it is nice !!

  27. Edmar Diego
    September 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

    powerISO really helps too, but id like to try some of the programs mentioned.

  28. Aung Thu Htet
    September 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I do like Virtual CloneDrive and so much like it. And now I am testing the another tools.

  29. Sava Robert
    September 15, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Most of the time i used Daemon Tools. Now, Windows 8 can mount ISO (only ISO; cue/bin and everything else doesn't seem to work) and i love it.

    • Joel Lee
      September 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Windows 8's built-in ISO capabilities should be quite useful!

      • BuyNow
        January 3, 2013 at 8:12 am

        yeah... to install a different o/s on top of it.

  30. venkatp16
    September 15, 2012 at 6:00 am

    I use Imgburn... thnx for rest of the tools. gr8 info

  31. Neo Max
    September 15, 2012 at 4:10 am

    ultraiso is the best alternative.... infra recorder is a nice one too

  32. Dany Bouffard
    September 15, 2012 at 3:26 am

    There is also OSFMount that is portable no need to install it just run it and it can also mount the image to a RAM Drive.

  33. Elijah Swartz
    September 15, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I use Slysoft's Virtual CloneDrive to mount images, and ImgBurn for all my cd/dvd/image writing/creating needs. I have found that WinCDEmu supports too few formats. I stopped using Daemon Tools when it wasn't compatible with Windows 7 64 bit.

    There's another super easy way of accessing and/or extracting the contents in an ISO image. You can just use a popular archival programs such as Winrar or 7-Zip.

    You install a virtual OS via loading it's ISO image into VirtualBox or VMware Player.
    You can burn a bootable image to a disk using ImgBurn of course.
    If you have no dvd drive, and would like to create a bootable USB flash drive instead, you can use the Windows 7 USB/DVD tool for the Windows 7 ISO, or use UNetbootin to create a bootable USB flash drive for GNU/Linux operating systems and other tools.

  34. josemon maliakal
    September 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I am using virtual cd which found to be more easier to use than others ..

  35. Jacob Twitchel
    September 15, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I used to use Virtual Clone Drive to mount my .iso files that I created from DVDs. I haven't really used very many programs like that for Windows (I mostly use Linux) but Virtual Clone Drive was the best free program that I was able to find for Windows. I would still be using it if I would have kept that Windows installation installed on my laptop. If someone asked me which program I would recommend to use out of all the programs I tried; I would recommend Virtual Clone Drive.

    • Jacob Twitchel
      September 15, 2012 at 1:46 am

      I don't understand why but the comment I posted is not linking to my account as me being the one that posted this. Sorry, but I just recently joined this website. lol

  36. Damian
    September 15, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I use MagicDisc to mount disc images in Windows. I tried Virtual Clone Drive before, I forget why I didn't like it and chose MagicDisc instead.

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