Extend The Life Of Your Optical Discs With ISO Backups & Virtual Clone Drive [Windows]

Tina Sieber 11-12-2012

virtual clone driveThere is absolutely no reason why you would still want to routinely run games, movies, or music from optical discs. Inserting, ejecting, and switching discs is a nuisance and subjects both the drive and the discs to wear and tear CDs Are Not Forever: The Truth About CD/DVD Longevity, "Mold" & "Rot" The digital age has revolutionized the way we handle information. Never before could humankind record and store so much information and in such diversity. While the amount of data has increased exponentially, the predicted life... Read More . Moreover, optical drives are annoyingly loud and probably use a fair bit of energy. Finally, you might not have an optical drive to begin with. So what should you do instead?


If your CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays are dear to you, store them safely and use them less. You can create backups (disc images), for example using ImgBurn ImgBurn - Easy & Free CD and DVD Burner App Read More , and store them on your hard drive. The disc images can be used just like the physical original. All you need is a virtual drive to mount them on.

What Is Virtual CloneDrive?

Virtual CloneDrive is a free tool to play CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray disc images straight form your hard drive. Disc images come in several formats, including ISO, BIN, and CCD. Virtual Clone Drive supports all of these and more. You can run up to 15 virtual drives simultaneously, meaning you can read data from that many discs at once.

Installation Tip

When you install Virtual CloneDrive, you can choose which image formats should be associated with the tool. While it is possible to change those associations later, you will have to do it manually for each format How To Change & Fix Broken File Type Associations In Windows 7 This article will discuss what file type associations are, how you can change them in general, and why so many people have issues with .lnk file associations in Windows. If you have been running into... Read More .

virtual clone drive

How To Set Up Virtual CloneDrive

Once installed, Virtual CloneDrive will reside in your system tray. Left-click the icon to open the options window. Under Settings you can set the number of virtual drives. Check Virtual Sheep to exchange the default optical drive logo with the sheep logo. This makes it easier to distinguish your virtual from your physical drives.


using virtual clone drive

Go to your Computer to see the available virtual drives.

using virtual clone drive

How To Mount a Disc Image

To mount an ISO image or another type of disc image, you can go several different routes:


Direct via Associated Disc Image

If the respective format is associated with Virtual CloneDrive, you can simply double-click the file and it will be mounted to an available virtual drive.

Direct via Non-associated Disc Image

You can right-click the file, click Mountand select an available virtual drive.

using virtual clone drive

Indirect via Virtual Drive

Go to Computer, right-click on an available virtual drive, hover mouse to the Virtual CloneDrive entry, and click Mount…This will launch an Explorer window. Browse to the disc image file and open it.


optical disk life

Indirect via Virtual CloneDrive Icon In System Tray

Right-click the tool’s system tray icon, select an available virtual drive, click Mount…, and browse to the ISO file you want to open.

optical disk life

How To Unmount a Disc Image

To unmount an image, you have two options:


Via Your Computer

Right-click the respective virtual drive, find the mounted image in the list, hover over it and select Unmount from the sub-menu.

Via Virtual CloneDrive System Tray Icon

Click the respective virtual drive, and select Unmount from the menu.

Once you have mounted images, you will notice the options to purge images that no longer exist from history or clear the history.

virtual clone drive


Virtual CloneDrive is a simple tool that can save you the time and hassle of having to deal with optical discs. Unlike your physical hard drive, it supports multiple virtual discs at once. The only limitations are available hard drive space and copy protection of your optical media.

Convinced, but need a complete walk-through for backing up your CDs and DVDs first? Check out these articles:

Also, here are alternatives to Virtual CloneDrive and optical discs:

What is your experience with disc images and virtual drives?

Related topics: CD-DVD Tool, Clone Hard Drive, Disk Image, Hard Drive, Virtual Drive.

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  1. Gideon Waxfarb
    December 21, 2012 at 4:13 am

    Windows 8 does this natively :)

  2. Anonymous
    December 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    i ve been using virtual clone for the last couple of years...its a must have tool for me

  3. Carl Colvin
    December 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Virtual Clone drive is good I have used it in the past but lately I found wincdemu and I really like it

  4. Mayur Godhani
    December 16, 2012 at 7:05 am

    I've used Ultra ISO till today.
    Now I think that, i should try Virtual Clone Drive atleast once.

  5. Guest
    December 14, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Great article, Tina. With disc images, you can keep a master copy of the physical medium as a backup while still being able to access the files/software on it using an emulator like VCD or Daemon Tools. I prefer VCD because it's completely free and not nag/ad/crippleware like Daemon Tools Lite (vs. the paid-for full version). You can make disc images from your preexisting CDs/DVDs using a tool like ImgBurn or, for encrypted movies, the (in)famous DVD Decrypter (still available and still the best).

    The only real issue I'd have is with hard drive space, that is if you're keeping the .iso file for repeated use and not just a one-shot deal. I have a LOT of file backups made on optical discs FROM a portable hard drive (since I've had them fail before) and can't afford a subscription like Mozy or Dropbox. Counterproductive as it might seem, since I'm paranoid about never having too many backups, I've ended up making copies of the discs themselves onto more discs, especially after reading MUO's article on "bit rot" (physical decay) of optical discs (disks? Probably a few fluky floppies still floating around in the world somewhere). Though it's way out of my budget, a disc duplicator would reduce some of the tedium involved. HD space comes at a rare premium for me. :-\

    • Tina
      December 14, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Well, it's good to have a backup of data either way. You might want to back up your hard drive to Blu-Ray discs. But you should also back up your movie, music, or software discs, in case the original rots. Discs you use frequently rot faster, hence it's a good idea to store them on the hard drive and give the hardware, i.e. both the optical disc and the drive necessary to read it, a break.

  6. Anonymous
    December 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Yes because Viruses still dont affect the ISO images

  7. Antonio Iacobone
    December 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I prefer using Daemon Tools but this one is good too

  8. Debra Beshears
    December 13, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Thanks for the info. I will definitely try.

  9. Victor Ong
    December 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    WinCDEMU is simpler and supports more image types, though it doesn't have as many features.

  10. Ping
    December 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    DaemonTools is a better choice with more advanced options.

  11. Austen Gause
    December 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    use POWER ISO.

  12. Ari Lont
    December 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Been using this for a couple of months now works like charm and no problem so far. Recommend it a lot.

  13. Douglas Mutay
    December 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I use this lovely software since a very very long time. It's just goood!!!

  14. Vishal Srivastava
    December 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I like WinCD EMU and use it. Works fine for me and has similar applications...

  15. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 12, 2012 at 6:46 am

    My first encounter with virtual drives was when I setup playstation emulator in my PC. Since then I prefer to clone and mount images of frequently used CD/DVDs. When I don't use them anymore I can simply unmount and delete the image. Less hassle opening/closing the tray as well. I've never use this software, but Imgburn and Alcohol has never fail me.

  16. dyl Belleza
    December 12, 2012 at 3:04 am

    ok thanks.. backup of cd/dvd

  17. Chew Jian Yue
    December 12, 2012 at 2:36 am

    I have been using this since 8 months ago... Until this, I just knew how much it can do!

  18. Frank Zedmore
    December 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I've got this and it works great!