Among the many things that Windows is known for, there are many file formats. While macOS only has a few file formats, there are many more on Windows. One of them, which is actually one of the most useful, is also not the most famous. This file format is known as .ISO.
What is an ISO file? What does it do and why do you need it?
What is an ISO file?
As CD and DVD hard drive players are gradually replaced by cloud-based downloads, ISO files will only become more useful and practical in the future with all those old installation discs you have in your office. Plus, drives fail all the time, which is why ISO is a great backup solution.
When you run the installation disc for a piece of software such as Photoshop (for example), there is a given folder structure with each specific file and folder in a specific location. If you move a file or folder to a different location in the structure, everything falls apart because the installer does not know where these files are now.
The ISO file is an exact copy of the files and folder structure on the installation disc, with the advantage that the physical disc is no longer needed. This way, you can backup discs in the cloud as ISO files, and anytime you want to install this software, you won’t need to search for the disc. Just double click the ISO file.
You can burn this ISO disc to another disc, move it to a USB stick, email it, or leave it in the cloud just like any other regular file. Since many installation discs can take up several gigabytes of file space, email or cloud storage can be a problem if you can’t compress the file a little more.
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How to create an ISO file
ISO file creation is not a complicated process at all. In fact, there are many free programs for this. Since I like to keep my solutions as free and simple as possible, I have always used ISO Creator Itâ€™s always fun.
And to show you how easy it is to back up an ISO, I pulled out my very old and very dusty disc copy of Photoshop Elements. Now, I am going to show you how to convert it to an ISO file and then run it.
First, install ISO Creator as usual: “Nextâ€“ Nextâ€“ Next :”
Once the program is installed, launch it and then insert the disc you want to back up the ISO from to your hard drive.
In the ISO Creator window, you need to configure the following:
- ISO File Path: Tells the program where you want to place the finished ISO file on your computer. Click the Browse button, navigate to the folder and enter the desired ISO file name in the window.
- Volume Name: How the ISO file will be named the next time you view it in Windows Explorer. to the drive letter.
- Folder Path: The location of the installation disc you want to convert. Click Browse and navigate to the location of the drive.
Now click “Start” to begin the conversion process.
The process ended in just a few minutes.
How to open and run an ISO file
Now that you have an ISO file, you obviously need to know how to open and run it when needed.
To do this, you can turn to the free Virtual Clone Drive software.
Not only does it do its job well, but that crazy sheep icon in Windows Explorer is just gorgeous. I know it’s easy for me to enjoy.
So how does it work? Well, if you run the disc, you obviously need a disc reader in your computer to read the data. With Virtual CloneDrive, it creates a temporary virtual disk attached to one of your drive letters (in my case, drive “F”) and simulates the disk launch by opening an ISO file.
After installing Virtual CloneDrive, navigate to your ISO file, right-click it and choose “Open With “. Now select “Connect Files Using Virtual CloneDrive”.
If you plan on working with a lot of ISO files from now on, you can set Windows to automatically link ISO files to Virtual CloneDrive to save a couple of clicks down the road.
When you’ve selected Virtual CloneDrive as your program to open the ISO file, navigate to the drive letter that is now associated with the VCD. You will now see your ISO file with a folder and file structure identical to the disk. Now you can install the program using the setup.exe file.