ISO files are CD image files that can be burnt to CDs or DVDs. Alternatively, ISO files can be used to store contents of DVDs and CDs as well. However, at times we might need to extract ISO files to view their contents, or even extract specific files from them. At other times, we might want to install software from ISO files without burning them to a DVD drive. All this can be done easily with a free utility called Virtual Clone Drive from SlySoft.
Getting Started and Installing Virtual Clone Drive
To get started, download Virtual Clone Drive from their official website at this link. This software can mount a CD or DVD image from your hard drive on a virtual drive that behaves like a CD or DVD. The software is 1.5 MB in size and it will take minimal space on your computer.
Once you are done downloading, it is time to install the software. You have to give the software administrator privileges, because it does some system level changes.
Click on I agree on the next screen to continue with the installation.
Click on the Next button on the next screen as shown below.
Click on the Install button to install Virtual Clone Drive finally.
After sometime through the installation, you will get a confirmation dialog asking you if you want to install a special driver. Since you’ll need this driver for the image files to be loaded as a CD or DVD drive, click on the Install button.
Finally, when the installation completes, click on Close.
Once the Installation is complete, we will move on to the next step of mounting an ISO file to read its contents and retrieve files when we need them. You do not need to restart your computer before you start using Virtual Clone Drive.
Mounting an ISO file using Virtual Clone Drive
As I have already mentioned, we can now mount the ISO file to read its contents. For this part, you will need an ISO file handy on your hard disk.
Step 1: Click on your Windows taskbar arrow to see all taskbar icons. From there, right-click on the icon that shows a small CD like disk as shown in the screenshot below.
Step 2: On right clicking, you will get a right-click menu showing Settings, help and drive letters to mount. Select any drive letter that you see and it will expand to show a Mount option.
Step 3: Clicking on Mount will present you with a file dialog box. From there, select the respective ISO file you want to be mounted. As shown in the screenshot, I have selected a Windows 8 beta ISO file; I downloaded a few months ago. Click on Open to load your ISO file as a CD or DVD.
Step 4: Once you have done that, go to My Computer and you will see the ISO file appearing as a disk drive under the Devices with Removable Storage section.
Now you can browse all its contents and copy data from it without extracting.
Technically, you did not just extract an ISO file. This software does the job of extracting an ISO file as well as mounting it to install any software. However, you cannot add new files or delete existing ones because an ISO image has a read-only file system.
Step 5: [Optional] this is an optional step. You can also remove the mounted media once your work is done, because Virtual Clone Drive will mount it every time your computer starts. To do that, follow the same path that you took to mount a disk, and click on Unmount from the right click option, as shown below.
Step 6: [Optional] you can also select the number of virtual drives on left clicking the icon that appears on your taskbar.
Try out Virtual Clone Drive and share your experience with us.