How to: Open ISO files without burning

Virtual CloneDrive logoHave you ever wanted to open an ISO, IMG or CCD file but either didn’t want to burn it, didn’t have a blank DVD spare or didn’t even have a DVD burner? Well you can by mounting the file for free using a virtual drive cloning tool.

Virtual drive cloning means that you effectively create a new DVD drive for your computer – but it exists only virtually on your desktop. It’s pretty much like getting a new DVD drive for free with the added bonus that you don’t have to mess around with DVDs or burners.

I used the excellent Virtual CloneDrive although you can use any drive cloning app such as DAEMON Tools. When you install it, you’ll be asked whether you want to associate appropriate file types to it such as ISO, IMG, CCD, DVD and UDF files.

Virtual CloneDrive 1

If you don’t intend on using an application to burn discs regularly using your physical DVD drive, it will make your life a lot easier if you select them all so that whenever you encounter one of these file types, Virtual CloneDrive will mount them automatically. Alternatively, you should see an option to mount the files in Explorer or failing that, right click on the target file and select Virtual CloneDrive from the context menu and then Mount.

That’s pretty much all you need to do. With data/software disks, usually you’ll be prompted to run the Autorun.exe file when you mount it and from there, installation of your program will proceed automatically. You should also be presented with an option to explore the files contained within the ISO individually too.

You don’t actually need to use the main interface of most virtual drive cloning apps but if you double-click on the Virtual CloneDrive icon on your desktop, you can access the preferences:

Virtual CloneDrive 2

Here you can select the number of drives you want to mount at one time. This is very important if you intend on mounting more than one file at the same time. If Number of Drives is set to 1 and you try to mount another one, you won’t be able to.

The Virtual Sheep checkbox simply helps distinguish Virtual CloneDrive drives from your physical drives on your computer by creating a sheep logo for each one. Finally, if you plan on mounting the same images regularly, enable the Keep History box but make sure you don’t change the physical location of the files.

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