What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

cd or dvd in laptop disc drive   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7ISO files can be created from any CD or DVD you have lying around. They’re called “disc images” because they’re an exact image of a disc. An ISO file contains an exact representation of the contents of a disc, allowing you to create backup copies of discs and store them digitally.

These ISO files can be used as if they were physical discs, making them particularly useful I you have a computer without a disc drive, such as an ultrabook. You can also burn the ISO image to another disc, creating a copy of your original disc.

What Are ISO Files?

An ISO file is a complete copy of a CD or DVD. You can create ISO images yourself or download them from the Internet. For example, Linux distributions offer freely downloadable ISO files that you can burn to disc.

You can use an ISO image in a variety of ways. The ISO file itself is a backup of a disc, so you can use the ISO file if you ever lose or damage the original disc. You can also “mount” the ISO, which makes it accessible as if it were a physical disc – you can install software from the disc and access its files as if it were inserted in your disc drive. ISO files can be used to install software from discs on computers that lack physical disk drives.

The ISO file can also be “burned” back onto another CD or DVD, creating a copy of the original disc. If you want more detailed technical information, check out the ISO image article on Wikipedia.

Creating An ISO File From a Disc

We’ll be using WinCDEmu to create and use ISO files. It’s one of programs on our Best Windows Software page. There are many other tools that can create and use ISO images, but WinCDEmu is nice and simple.

To create an ISO file after installing WinCDEmu, insert a CD or DVD into your computer’s CD or DVD drive and open the Computer window from your Start menu. Right-click the disc drive and select the Create ISO Image option.

create iso image with wincdemu   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

WinCDEmu will create an ISO image from your disc. This make take some time, depending on how fast your disc drive can read the disc and the size of the disc itself. This process is known as “ripping” a disc.

wincdemu create iso image progress   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

Using An ISO

To use your ISO image and make your files accessible, locate the ISO image file on your hard drive and double-click it. This is known as “mounting” the disc image.

mount disc image with wincdemu   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

WinCDEmu will make the ISO image accessible at a new drive letter. You can use it as if it were a physical disc inserted into your computer. To “unmount” the disc image, right-click the new drive letter and use the Eject option.

mounted iso image in windows   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

WinCDEmu is just one of many options — you can use other programs such as DAEMON Tools Lite or Alcohol 52% to mount disc images.

Burning an ISO

You can “burn” an ISO image back to a disc, creating a new copy of the original disc. Windows 7 includes integrated support for this, so you don’t have to install any third-party software. Just right-click an ISO file and select Burn disc image.

burn an iso in windows 7   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

Windows will allow you to select the disc drive you want to burn the image to. You can optionally verify the disc after burning to ensure there were no errors during the disc-burning process.

image   What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7

If you don’t have Windows 7 or a newer version of Windows, such as Windows 8, you’ll need to install another application to burn ISO files. InfraRecorder is one good option, and you can other good options in the CD/DVD Tools section of our Best Windows Software page.

There are also other types of disc image files you may come across on the Internet, such as BIN/CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, and IMG files. These work similarly to ISO files, but you’ll need different programs to work with them.

What do you use ISO image files for? Leave a comment and share any tips or tricks you have!

Image Credit: Laptop on White Background, DVD Disc in Drive via Shutterstock

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46 Comments -

0 votes

Sadden

i have been looking to learn this for YEARS! MAKEUSEOF has saved me heaps of time and hair! Thanks!!!

0 votes

Yash Desai

i had no idea windows 7 had this built in, ive been using poweriso for the longest time

0 votes

Deji Greg

One more good thing is viruses don’t affect ISO files…

0 votes

Deji Greg

Also good to know windows 7 has a built in ISO burning tool….didn’t know about this till now. Good work, Thanks much.

0 votes

Terry

I have used ISO files to install games that use the annoying DRM method of making you insert the CD/DVD at every launch so I just installed those right from the ISOs and leave them forever mounted with a middle of the alphabet drive letter.

I mostly use ISOs for tech tools and many many Linux Distros. :)

0 votes

William Henry

How exactly do you eliminate the DRM annoyance and make it forever mounted with a middle of the alphabet drive letter? I have the disks, but as you say it gets frustrating when you have to keep changing disks for each game. I have use some mods but the upgrades are coming out more faster than the mods.

0 votes

Terry

I haven’t done this in recent years but Here is what I did:

1. Ripped the disks to ISO images then put the ISOs in a good permanent location.

2. Mounted an ISO with a drive letter not likely be be needed later.

3. Installed the software from the mounted ISO.

4. Run the software at anytime.

I just never unmounted the ISO. So the computer believes the original disk is always still inserted in the optical drive that was used for the install.

0 votes

Terry

Forgot to mention repeat for each piece of software using a different drive letter. The My Computer showed quite a few disks.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

More or less. Some game discs have DRM that won’t work with some ISO-mounting programs, so you may need a program like Alcohol 52% to mount them properly. It’s definitely a lot nicer than swapping discs all the time.

0 votes

illegal3alien

You can use Alcohol 52% along with a script addon that will automatically create a virtual drive, mount an iso, and launch the game/program. On the downside it uses the SPTD driver which is known to cause BSODs.

0 votes

Drew Butler

Thanks for the article. Saves me some time explaining it to folks lol. Now I can just shoot them the link :)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Thanks! I tried to make it as simple as possible.

0 votes

Terry

For those who may not already know Mac OS X and Linux have the basic ISO tools already built in.

0 votes

kumar raja

Since 2year I have heared that ISO but i dont no exactly what it is now i Have understood this thanks to makeuseof

0 votes

Zhong Jiang

Does the windows built in burner select which speed it’ll be burning towards? If it burns too quickly, the data will be corrupted. I once used Poweriso to burn an image at 16x speed, the data was corrupted due to verification problems and now the cd is just useless for installation.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Yeah, I think with some drives or blank CDs there can be speed problems. I think you’ll have to use a third-party program if you want to select a burn speed.

0 votes

Movva Deepak

personally iam a fan of daemon tools.. i never used other softwares…

0 votes

Andy Bristow

IMGBurn for creating & Burning ISO’s
WinCDEmu for Vitual Mounting ISO’s

0 votes

vineed gangadharan

thanks for the software …i was in search of alternative iso maker other than daemon tools!

0 votes

Ashwin Ramesh

Oh! Never knew about this! I always used to use Daemon tools!

0 votes

Sam Kar

I use ImgBurn for all ISO work. Best tool in my view.

I use ISO files as a backup of the discs that I have.

0 votes

salim benhouhou

i use alcohol 120% on my PC . i think i should check this tool out .

0 votes

Asim Ali

yep ! great integrated application and utility …

0 votes

Onaje Asheber

This is Great news. I use ISO’s a lot. Thanks a lot

0 votes

Muhammad Rizwan Aziz

waooo.i always used daemon tools…It was a hidden windows feature..:) nice

0 votes

Myst Gunn

I use ISO files to create an exact copy of my back up disc collection during my high school & early college years.

0 votes

Edwin Williams

Wow! I didn’t know Windows 7 could do this on it’s own! I normally use PowerISO!

0 votes

Kelly Buchanan

Unaware that this was already available in Windows 7.

0 votes

Vicky Gregory Moss

Awesome info!

0 votes

Jim Spencer

I would tell people that UltraISO is superior to the Windows 7 version, but it looks like the built in version is an adequate choice for those who don’t want to spend money on software! I have been using ISO storage for several years now, and one of its advantages for me, it is free of a virus threat! I back up all my movies in ISO, and it works flawlessly! Great article!

0 votes

Keith Swartz

Great article! I love ISO Files!

0 votes

Mike

thanks for this guide i needed to learn how to do this haha thank you

0 votes

howard wolowitz

when my cousin dumped a psp game (umd) it was in iso format

0 votes

howard wolowitz

what does iso stand for?

0 votes

tom hartnett

Short answer: International Organization for Standardization

From Wikipedia: “An ISO image (International Organization for Standardization) is an archive file (also known as a disk image) of an optical disc, composed of the data contents of every written sector of an optical disc, including the optical disc file system”.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

It’s because CDs used the “ISO 9660″ file system. It’s not very interesting, sadly.

0 votes

Jérémie Fortin

They should had mentionned imgburn or clonedrive

0 votes
0 votes

Boni Oloff

Nice idea, but i use daemon tools pro the modify ISO content so long.
But, it is not free.

0 votes

De Muñoz Bañuelos

For real? Relly nice, I’ll start doing ISOs again!

0 votes

Debbie Strain

Thanks, I was trying to find a program to burn ISO to a disk. I didn’t know that windows 7 had this built in.

0 votes

Siddhant Chaurasia

WOW thx for this

0 votes

careylili

To create ISO Image File for movie DVD, I think use a DVD copy software is more straightforward as it just requires a few clicks and all is done.

0 votes

david mccarroll

I did not know windows 7 could do this either.This will make storing cd’s easier.

0 votes

Walter Gilbert

Thank you for a clear explanation.

0 votes

LuckyBelly

I use another software named Any DVD Cloner Platinum to burn ISO file to blank DVD disc. It works amazingly.