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Your CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are rotting and optical discs as such are slowly disappearing from the market. ISO and other image file formats, however, are here to stay and are a good way to back up existing optical discs.
Once the original disc has degraded beyond repair, you can burn its image backup to a new disc. Or you could give your discs and your wallet a break and just read the data directly from the hard drive. But how do you read ISO files?
Enter open-source CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray disc emulator, which allows you to virtually mount image files of optical discs on your computer, to use them as if the physical disc was inserted on a local drive. WinCDEmu is a Disc Image Tool listed on our Best Windows Software page., an
- Runs on Windows XP / 2003 / Vista / 2008 / 7, 32- and 64-bit;
- can mount ISO, CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, and IMG images with one click;
- supports data, DVD-video, and BD-video images;
- offers unlimited amount of virtual drives;
- drive letters are available when not in use;
- let’s you create ISO images via Explorer context menu.
Installing & Using WinCDEmu
This is probably the most simple tool you will ever install and use. Once installed, you can instantly mount image files. Double-click on an image file and WinCDEmu will load a small ‘mount disc image’ window with only a few options. You can choose a drive letter, select the disc type, disable autorun, reserve the drive letter (keep drive after restart), and let the tool manage drive letters automatically.
Once you click OK, the image will be mounted, meaning it will open as if you were running the original disc.
You can further simplify the use of WinCDEmu. Launch WinCDEmu settings from Program Files or by clicking the … button in the window shown above. Select Let Windows manage drive letters automatically and you won’t see the Mount a disc image window again.
If you do want to see it again, right-click the image file and click Select drive letter & mount.
To increase safety, you can also check the option Require administrator rights (UAC) to mount an image.
To unmount an image, go to your Computer, i.e. where you see the list of devices with removable storage, right-click on a mounted image, and Eject.
To create an ISO image from an optical disc, insert the disc into your optical drive, right-click the disc in the list of devices with removable storage, and select Create ISO image from the menu. Choose a storage location on your hard drive and WinCDEmu will begin to save an ISO file. While the file is written, you can adjust some settings.
How Does WinCDEmu Compare To Virtual Clone Drive?
I recently reviewed Virtual Clone Drive, a similar tool, which also made our Best Windows Software page. The two programs essentially do the same thing, but slightly different. Virtual Clone Drive differs from WinCDEmu in that it offers a System Tray icon, through which you can mount and unmount images.
Virtual Clone Drive also lets you pre-mount virtual drives without content to reserve drive letters. What Virtual Clone Drive does not support is creating ISO images.
WinCDEmu is a straight forward and simple tool to create and mount disc images on your Windows computer. Once installed, it simply works and you won’t even notice it’s there. If you still want to look into alternatives, have a look at the following articles:
- No DVD Drive? No Problem! Create And Mount ISO Files For Free With These Tools
- 3 Free Alternatives To DAEMON Tools For Mounting Image Files
- How To Create Disk Images & Mount Them On A Virtual Drive [Windows]
How do you manage your optical discs? Have you discovered the benefits of image files and virtual drives, yet?