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What Are ISO files, and How Do I Open Them?

I have a file that contains some information. I want to open it, but I apparently don’t have the right program installed on my computer. The file type is .iso. How can I open it?

An ISO file is just a disk image.

There are three ways to deal with a disk image:

  • Put it on a disk.
  • Make it look like you put it on a disk.
  • Pretend it’s something else.

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ISOs are a type of archive

The easiest way to think of an ISO file is more like a .zip or .cab archive file, only without the compression.

An ISO file contains the image of a disk. That means it contains all the files and folders that were on that disk, much like a .zip or .cab file contains a collection of files and folders. The real difference is that an ISO is a byte-for-byte copy of the low-level data actually stored on a disk.

There’s nothing about the ISO format that actually knows about files, folders, or formats. It’s just the raw data from the disk. If interpreted correctly, that raw data may naturally represent  files, folders, and formatting details. But, like a disk, the operating system has to look, see what format was used (things like FAT32, NTFS, and the like), and then interpret the contents of the ISO file as if it were reading the raw data from an actual disk.

There are a few ways to deal with ISO files.

DVDs Burn the ISO file to a disc

ISO files are frequently used to distribute CD or DVD images. For example, if you download a popular Linux distribution, what you’ll most likely download is actually an .iso file.

Using a CD or DVD burning program (like ImgBurn), you can then write that ISO image to an actual disc. It requires a special technique to properly create the image, which is why you need to use tools like ImgBurn. You can’t just copy the file to the media and expect it to work. If you burn the ISO to the disc and still see the .iso file when you look at the disc, then you’ve burned it to the disk as a file – it needs to be burned to the disc as an ISO.

When you examine the properly completed disc, you’ll see all the files and folders that were contained within the ISO image. In the case of the Linux distribution, you’ll probably even be able to boot from the CD or DVD that you just created.

Even when you’re not dealing with software distribution, simply burning the ISO file to a disc will make the contents of the ISO readable by simply reading the contents of that disc.

Treat the ISO file as if it were a disk

There are several utilities out there that will treat an ISO file as if it were a disk drive, although often only for reading.

One product that I’ve used in the past is Daemon Tools. Using this utility, you can “mount” the ISO file and it appears as an additional disk drive on your machine – for example drive M:. Assuming the disk image uses a supported file system (CDFS, NTFS, or FAT32 typically), you can simply read the contents of the ISO directly from the virtual drive.

Treat the ISO file as if it were an archive

Recall how I indicated that ISO files are much like .zip or .cab files? As it turns out, some of the popular archiving utilities, including WinRAR and my personal favorite 7 Zip, can also read and extract the contents of ISO files.

All that you need to do is use those tools’ view or extraction functions on the ISO file to examine its contents or extract some or all of the files you need.

Making ISO files

Creating ISO files of CDs or other disks that you own is a convenient way to backup, archive, or (if legal) share them. And it’s actually quite easy to do. There are two approaches:

Create an ISO file from an actual disk. Most CD/DVD burning software includes the ability to “rip” or create an ISO image from a CD or DVD disc. In particular, ImgBurn is perhaps one of the easiest tools to use for this purpose. Just insert your CD, tell ImgBurn where to place and what to name the ISO file, and push a button.

Create an ISO file from a collection of files. ImgBurn can also be used to create an ISO image from files you specify, much as if you were actually burning files to CD or DVD. After collecting the files that you want to place in the image, you can instruct ImgBurn to create an ISO file instead of actually burning to disk.

Next steps

If you’re simply trying to get at something that’s stored inside an ISO file, go grab a copy of 7-zip which will let you extract the contents just as if it were a .zip file.

If you need to install or run something that was delivered as an ISO file, grab a copy of ImgBurn, and then follow my step-by-step instructions on burning an ISO to CD or DVD.

Do this

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144 comments on “What Are ISO files, and How Do I Open Them?”

  1. Microsoft has a “Virtual CD” driver available:

    Run it, and it installs a new drive letter, onto which you can mount and unmount ISO files.

    (Note: this is the only one I’ve used, so I can’t compare it to any others. Also, it only claims to be for XP, so I don’t know if it works for Vista. However, it does the job for me, no fuss, no muss.)

  2. I took the advise of Bob L. above and the program he recommended worked flawlessly in Vista. I no longer have to burn ISO files onto a DVD/CD on order to install them from that DVD/CD back onto the same computer and this virtual DVD/CD program is a lot faster than the real (mechanical) thing. Thanks Bob!

  3. I was recomended PowerISO and it seems to work fine. although I have only used it a couple of times they have a free version you can try.

  4. I’m new to download and have just downloaded a large ISO file (music). I’ve used IDM as my download and have opened the files with WinRAR. I read your advise here and downloaded daemon tools and it has created an F drive but Win RAR won’t send it to the Daemon F drive. Sorry guys this is probably elementary for you but I could use the help. The whole ISO has not been downloaded – I’m still have to download 2 more file – could this be the reason?

  5. Well I guess you tried to make things clear but I ended up still pretty confused & with more questions:
    1) Why bother with an iso file in the first place since there is no compression.
    2) Surely this just introduces unnecessary steps in the viewing process, who wants to waste time burning CD’s when HD’s are now so cheap & very large.
    3) When/if you burn to CD do you choose “burn a data file” or “burn an iso file”.
    4) Now just one more time: I start with an iso file, wish to use it, but must first burn to CD, which duplicates what I had to start with, So how do I view the CD & why will I be able to use now when I could not the original.
    Totally confused even after re-reading your article. No doubt I’m tghick but computers are supposed to be friendly right not dinosours.

    Hash: SHA1

    1) Compression isn’t the point of an ISO file. The point is
    to represent/contain an exact disk image. You’ll see CD
    images distributed as ISO files, for example.

    2) ISO files aren’t typically used for HD images, for much
    of the reason you explain: size and cost. However they’re
    perfect for distributing, again, a smaller disk image like
    that of a CD or DVD.

    3) Burn ISO file. You’ll see that this, then, is almost the
    only step required. The resulting burned CD will have files
    on it.

    4) There are also utilities available that allow you to
    mount and/or view and/or extract the contents of an ISO file
    without burning it – I think 7-zip is just one example. But
    again, that’s not the point. If I want to distribute an
    image of something that you must burn to CD in order to, for
    example, boot from – then an ISO is perfect.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  7. Thanks for the info. Very helpful. FYI for windows users, there is a virtual CD driver provided by Microsoft for XP (also Vista, but I didn’t research that one) that is available from MS download center – fairly simple to install and use – just make sure your ISO files are not buried too deep in the file structure – if the folder path is too long the mount will fail – I moved the ISO files to a folder on my desktop and then was able to mount them easily. Go to and search for winxpvirtualcdcontrolpanel to find the page to download from.

  8. I have burned the ISO file onto the disk, run the disk it opens up and i just have the same programme on the disk, and no i can’t extract a damn thing! it just won’t open, originally it wouldn’t and after wasting a CD for burning it still won’t! i don’t know what to do? have you any other suggestions?

    When you burn the ISO to disk you must use the “Burn ISO” function of your burning software, NOT the regular file burning options.


  9. hello
    i have downloaded office2008 from utorrent.
    After completion the download it came one ISO file. I could not find setup file. Please help me how can i install msoffice. there is no setup file.but file size is 530MB. please help me

    Downloading Office as you have done is software piracy.

    – Leo
  10. Thanks so much! Some people already rold me what it was all aboutand how i should use them but I didn’t understand completely. Your explanation i much more accurate and resourceful. Thanks Leo!

    I recommend usng Roxio Easy Media Creator Home for using ISO files… it’s really practical!

  11. Leo…..please don’t recommend 7 Zip without giving the full story. I tried to use it to extract an iso file (as discussed above) and it didn’t work. And….now it has populated itself, after a complete uninstall, into my settings as the default file type for .zip folders. Can you please suggest how I may return these settings to normal again? Thanks

    The full story? From my perspective is the full story is that 7-Zip works well and I continue to recommend it.

    Without knowing more details of your failure – “it didn’t work” doesn’t tell me much – there’s nothing I can do with that to alter my recommendation at all.

    As to resetting it to normal – what’s normal? Honest question, different people want different things. The quickest way is to install an alternative like WinZip, if that’s the way you want to go. To re-enable Windows’ support, see this article: Compressed Folders (built-in support for ZIP files) out at

    Finally, it’s not at all uncommon for programs not to know what things should be reset to when they are uninstalled. Yes, they could, and should, but many don’t.

    – Leo
  12. I still don’t get it, so how do i extract the needed files to run the program? let’s say from a downloaded torrent? could you help me step by step cause I’m totally technologically unsaavy. thanks much!

    Burn the ISO to a CD or DVD using the burning software’s ISO functions. Then, when you load the CD normally as a data CD the contents will be accessible.

    – Leo
  13. Here’s the frustration…I’ve burned an iso file to a CD, but all I get is the image, and none of the files…I tried six different iso burning programs, same results..Is there something I’m missing?

    Apparently. You don’t burn an ISO like you do a normal file. You must use the burning programs “burn from ISO” function. Most have it. (In IMGBurn, for example, it’s the “Write” mode.)

    – Leo
  14. An ISO file is like packing up and going on vacation. It is sitting in some other place. To bring it ‘home’, it must be burned by using the ISO burning function to make it work as it was originally, on a CD or DVD. One mistake that people make is that many ISO files are very large, and if it is over the size of the CD, it won’t burn properly. Usually if the ISO is over 700 megs, then you’ll need to burn to a DVD writeable disc. Once you have burned it, eject the disc, then re-insert it to load up as it was in its original state.

  15. If you live in Australia, there is a copy of ImgBurn on the DVD with the current, December 2008, PCUser magazine.
    Arthur HC Williams
    Cairns, Queensland, Oz

  16. I am having an issue moving ISO images to my external hard drive. It tells me that there is not enough memory to transfer the file to the hard drive, but there is 115 GB of space. Is there something in the ISO format that will not allow me to store them on an external drive?

  17. I have used IMGBurn to burn an ISO file to a DVD+RW disc. It goes through the full procedure and says that burning is complete, although when I re-insert the disc there are no files or folders evident and it shows that there is O bytes Free Space and Total Size is 0 bytes. The original file was about 2.5 GBytes. I have had the same result with Active ISO Burner.Can you please help?

    Remember that you must use the burning software’s steps specifically for ISO files. In order to make them work you do not burn them like normal files. Check the program’s documentation.

    – Leo
  18. I used daemon lite, but personally i preferred isodisc. The program itself is like 600 kb and its simple.. You can burn as well as access with ghost drives, it give you 26, so u have plenty.

  19. Hi, i have downloaded this game from web and the problem is that there is no way that i could burn that game into a disc as the memory of that game is like almost 7GB and ofcourse, it is an ISO format file. So please comment on how can i install the game? Like, is there a way to have it installed without having that ISO file burned to an external disc? If no, what are the other options? and yes, i also have a extractor which normally works for opening RAR format files but that too doesnt seem to work on ISO format i guess.

  20. I am having an issue moving ISO images to my external hard drive. It tells me that there is not enough memory to transfer the file to the hard drive, but there is 115 GB of space. Is there something in the ISO format that will not allow me to store them on an external drive?

    Well, I had the same problem, but you can easily avoid it by giving the order to transfer (copy) a big file using the system symbol as a DOS command: copy f:xxx.iso d: or so, and it works for files of any size.



  21. Well I have had trouble with the ISO files too…i have used IMGburn and clicked on “write mode” but in this case i downloaded a game file WITH the ISO image file in it and there was also this other file called the “disc image file” do i burn them together? or burn the ISO file or the disk image file?

  22. Hi, i have downloaded this game from web and the problem is that there is no way that i could burn that game into a disc as the memory of that game is like almost 7GB and i exracted this game to a folder i installed the game on my computer, but it asks for the cd, how do i change the game acess my folder as it is acessing drive.

    • Games have copy protection that checks you have an official disk in the drive and not a copied one. That is why you get that cd/dvd request. you need to attain a no-CD or no-DVD fix file for that specific game so that it will work. try Google search- no cd fix for then the name of the game. you may get lucky. I only do this for the games I own so I do not have to keep inserting the disks every time I want to play them.

  23. Similar to Jack’s issue, I have an ISO file that is almost 7GB in size. Thanks to this thread, I now understand that I need to burn the ISO with specific software. Before I get to that step, however, I need to figure out what I can burn the ISO file *onto*. I have a DVD here but it’s only 4.7GB in size. Any suggestions are welcome!

  24. Hi guys,
    I have an iso file also and I managed to open it with Undisker…a piece of software that I found on google search.
    See if that helps

  25. Hey Guys,
    There is a software Named PowerIso or MagicISo
    All Of You Can Open .ISO files , .Bin and …


  26. i just downloaded a software program to help with my uni study. its a human anatomy and physiology cd. its one big iso file and ive managed to unzip its contents but how do i burn it to disc as though it was just bought off the shelf?? do i put all the files that were unzipped on the disc or is there something else i need to do?

  27. I have DVd’s with video images – I’m trying to import them so I can edit them. Windows Movie Maker doesn’t recognize them so I downloaded them onto my computer – still no luck. They saved as ISO files. Now what? They play just fine in Windows Media Player.

  28. I had to format my PC, before that my ISO files appeared like ABCDEF.ISO; right now after the format they appear as a RAR file so my questions here how do I do to put the things the way they were? and sorry my ignorance about it; is this a real problem?.
    I appreciate your help. Thanks

  29. i have a psp and i have been trying to put games on it. but i think i need an iso file. how can i get an iso file without makeing a cd? do i have to put it on a cd? i dont want to put it on a cd.

  30. I recently download a game with 20 iso files. how do you combine all the individual iso files (20 files)for the game to work or is the a way to install the game using the 20 iso files? I can’t open the iso file with winzip. any other software i can use

  31. haha,,,i thought it was something im not gonna open my file coz its iso…u simply need 7zip.i already have it and i didnt know that i can open iso files here ,lol

  32. My brother works in IT and runs ISO’s without burning them to discs several times a day at his job, so he knows what he’s doing. He said the program called MagicDisc works great.

  33. Thank you so much for your simple and clear advice – I’ve often had iso files and not had a clue what to do with them. The 7-zip advice worked a treat, so thanks a lot :)

  34. I have a couple of iso files on my computer that my son installed on the system – both relate to the Halo game.

    I’m trying to defrag as my files are hopelessly split up, but these two files with over 100,000 fragments between them are accounting for a 32% defragmentaion on the disk, and the system will not include them in the defrag. How can I force the defrag?

  35. Downloaded an auto repair manual which is a ISO file. Downloaded to my hard drive. When I try to open a Roxio web site pops up. Confused. How do I open this file?

  36. Ha! I’ve been dealing with ISO’s for several months now. I thought that I’d had the most ingenious method until now. I’d downloaded the free trial of Alcohol 52% (I didn’t want to pay for 120%, and the trial for this was timed). Once I had the ISO mounted on a virtual drive, I’d copy them to my hard drive. I had to clutter up my drive and go through some hell before I finally got Alcohol 52% to work right. Then, I read this article and found out that you can just use 7-Zip. Thanks so much!

    By the way, if anyone wants to burn ISO’s or similar images, I recommend getting the free program Imgburn. Don’t bother with any other programs.

  37. Thanks for the great tips Leo but I still have a problem with 2 ISO files (others I’ve tried work fine). I’ve tried 7-Zip, ImgBurn, Roxio, Magic disc with similar failure symptoms from all. I have followed your instructions for burning ISO back to a disc. Most of the time the disc seems to burn OK, even verifies OK, but when I try to see the files on it, I get a msg: “Windows cannot read from this disc…”. If I try to extract the ISO file using 7-Zip it says “Cannot open file… as archive”. I don’t know what the source of the original files were – could the problem be that they were from a Mac or are ISO files only from Windows? An interesting symptom is that it is a DVD (I tried both DVD-R and DVD+RW) as the ISO files are both around 1.4 Gb, yet when I re-insert the disc after burning it, the description changes from “DVD-RAM drive” to “CD Drive”.

    It’s very possible that the ISO contains an image of a disk formatted for another system – your Mac assumption is a possibility. You might try reading the CD you create on a Mac or Linux box.


  38. Awesome. Thank you! I was able to extract from a .r00 sequence using 7zip. I was then able to view and extract the contents of the .iso file. Files ready to use.

  39. Leo, I’m having a problem with a series of iso files that were created while backing up one CD. I want to reinstall the application that was backed up, but the files contained in the iso files all have the same name. How do I restore the original CD? When I opened the first file it launched Roxio and began burning a CD, but ignored the remaining archive files. I’m lost, but need to restore my hard drive this week. I guess my question is how do I combine 7 iso files back into one workable file? Thanks!

    Hard for me to say without knowing what the backup program was that created them. Typically each ISO represents a separate CD, so you would burn each (in ISO mode) to a CD. But I could be wrong, it could be something else entirely. This has instructions for using ImgBurn to burn an ISO: ImgBurn – Free CD/DVD Burning Tool


  40. Oh, my…I found a gold mine!
    I am shopping for a pc to replace my beloved (yes, I said that:) one of many years. Not replace really, just give it a rest and make the new one Work.
    I came across this question in reviews, and wanted to know more about it. “Cons: DVD burner can never completely burn an iso file…anybody come across this before?”
    It’s been Years since I was pc shopping and I’m clueless….totally!
    I wanted to know what an iso file was.
    Thanks much,

  41. hello sir,
    i have an iso file and i want to use it to make a bootable flash drive so that by using the flash drive i can install the software at boot time. Can u give me a procedure to do that.

  42. I would like to know about what is an ISO file how can it be open in windows vista and windows 7

    Please read the article you just commented on.

  43. I have downloaded a xp ghost file it says it is an ISO file it was in zip format upon unzipping it gave 4-5 files with different extensions like bin how do I install or use the software
    Thanks in advance and regards
    I am very new to computer

  44. I love your site, I love that you take your time to publish for people like me, I love the way you explain so simply and I love the link to buy you a latte or link to your site. Being a newbie, I guess I will have to try the link first. But what it did chime in my mind was if you could post in a procedural manner such as “task”. I read and read and the words make sense but when I open my [chime] file – it being rather simplified], I get nothing. I need steps 1., 2., and 3. so I can perform the action myself therefore putting it to memory. Thanks for everything Leo!

  45. I just downloaded MS Office Suite as an ISO file. I tried to use ISObuster to extract the files to my hard drive, which it did successfully, however, when I attempt to launch the EXE file, I am getting an error that says “…the languageo of the file is not reconizable by the system…” I contacted Microsoft…they believe it might be an ISO software issue. I read above about Winmount. I will try that next, hopefully it will have a “trial download”.
    Thanks for the insight on the ISO files, I will comment on my success or lack thereof, with Winmount. Anybody have any similiar issuew with ISObuster??

  46. hello,
    i have downloaded a book, which is in .iso format.
    i had extracted by WINRAR and then I got the setup.exe file and some more files. then, I have installed the book, while opening the book, it is asking me that ” it can’t be opened without the original CD placed in the disk.
    please give me the solution to open the book.

    thanking you


    If you’ve received an ISO file and not an actual CD I can only assume you’ve obtained the book illegally. In either case, contact the publisher either for assistance if this is how they sold it, or purchase the book and get the CD and you’ll be fine.


  47. Hi there!

    I’ve recently created a virtual drive in windows 7, but I can’t seem to open the game I want to play. All files are in said drive, but everyone talks about an ISO file I need to open. I can’t find anything labelled as an ISO file and I can’t seem to create the cd/dvd image from the real cd either, because I’m using a netbook.
    :/ help?

  48. I recommend Virtual Clone Drive from SlySoft. Once installed it creates a virtual drive. You can easily mount an iso file by double clicking the file. You can download it free at

    Whenever I get something commercial on disk (install media for a new system, peripheral, or software distribution), the first thing I do is make an iso file from each disk. I then put the physical disks safely away and install only from the iso. Not only is it faster but I never wear out the originals.

  49. Jim de Graff wrote:

    “Not only is it faster but I never wear out the originals.”

    CD’s (and DVD’s too, for that matter) are read using lasers. Nothing physical  ever touches them.

    In other words, they can never “wear out” the way a phonograph record might do.

    CDs and DVDs are known to degrade over time. I can certainly call that “wearing out”.


  50. hi there leo,
    im in a situation where i got a game off a friend, and it wasnt on a disk, but on a portable hardrive. The game was in “ISO” format….& and im a first timer when it comes to extracting “ISO” files… the game is for pc and i have the correct software ‘NTI’ to extract the file (i think)…. are there any basic guidlines i can follow to get the file from an ‘ISO’ to the fully working game…

  51. There was an earlier comment that stated “CD’s (and DVD’s too, for that matter) are read using lasers. Nothing physical ever touches them. In other words, they can never “wear out” the way a phonograph record might do.”

    In order to use the physical CD/DVD you must remove it from its sleeve/jewel case and place it in your CD/DVD tray. After using you must repeat the process in reverse. At any time the disk is subject to being scratched, fingerprinted or dropped. And, as Leo states, they can degrade over time.

    And for anyone who has to maintain machines (workstations or servers) remotely, using iso files means you can mount/dismount virtual disks without having to be physically at the machine.

  52. If you want to make a CD/DVD copy of the ISO file then you have to burn it to CD/DVD.
    If you want a copy just on your hard drive then just unzip it.
    I used the open source software mentioned above and it is as good as any.

  53. Is it true that changing a .img file to .ISO will make it readable as an ISO?

    Also note: MSDNAA (Microsoft Academic Alliance) distributes (legal current version) software through Schools (if you are enrolled in CIS courses). They now often come in ISO format. If you’re having trouble extracting it can be because of the way the file downloaded. School ‘Help Desk’ or the department that monitors the Alliance should be able to help.

    I’ve never heard of IMG and ISO being the same things with different names. I would not expect it to work.


  54. Hi Lio Could I put your articles about .iso files on my website.

    I’m looking for some articles or links to go on it.



    Thank you for asking prior to just copying our content. :-)

    By and large you may not post full articles, but you may post portions. In addition we do have a growing set of articles that are explicitly available for republication.

    This article discusses the terms, what’s available and where to find it:

  55. Hi there Leo,
    the situation is that I downloaded a game torrent from the internet, and it turned out to be in an “ISO” do I open it and play the game?

    Please read the article you just commented on. It answers this question.


  56. I have been trying to use isos for games and i don’t think i am doing it right. Do i need to use a disk for isos or something to that effect?

  57. I would like to burn a CD of my computer that I could use to “Ghost” to another PC. Where do I find this .ISO file to burn to a CD?

  58. Hi Leo
    Strait and simple, my daughter in law was given by her father a Acer pc. Naturally I tried to make sure she did not go to certain sites (11 years old) Now I have the predicament on my hands. I forgot the Administrator password. The fact thazt I had to retire early, handicapped with enough pills to make the local pusher happy, it doesn’t help me settle my problem. I’m kind of new with my PC friend so after asking I am told that if I get a ISO file with NTFC , FAT, FAT 32 Bottom line my problem will be solved when I am downloading my iso file. Well How do you download an ISO file and I read, and I read and Sir, I know what it is, what it is used for, how it originally was found but…lollI feel like saying now seriously guys how do I physically …you see what I mean. You guys are really good at what you do and I have a lot of respect for that, on the other I’m not exactly what you could call an idiot. This is more venting then anything else. You’ve helped me a couple of times before and I wanted to bookmark you and then came Vista…

  59. Hi Leo. I had the same problem with iso file but then I followed your recommendation. I extracted the files from iso file and I can use them now. Thanks heaps!

  60. hello
    i have downloaded Driv3r PC game from utorrent.
    After completion the download it came one ISO file. I could not find setup file. Please help me how can i install Driv3r PC game. there is no setup file.but file size is 3.49GB. please help me

  61. So then can one do an iso of its operating system on a netbook that does not have a burner, and then share it to my other computer that does have a burner?

  62. Utilities like Magic ISO or Virtual CloneDrive (the latter from will mount the ISO image file on a virtual disk. :) Of course, if you just want to take a look at the things inside or view and open the setup.exe file, 7-Zip and WinRAR work just as well.

  63. 7zip is now 18 zip and no longer free.

    I still don’t get why an iso is necessary. I’ve used iso’s frequently and know what to do with them, but I’ve always scratched my head over them.

    Ok, so let’s go in reverse. I have a file of photos with the extension.nef. I can easily copy them to any storage device. Can I make an iso and if so, why would I do that? IOW, what is the advantage of iso, or it’s need?

    • 7 Zip is still available and free. Couldn’t find anything called 18zip.

      An iso file is a copy of the whole disk, you wouldn’t make an iso for just a folder.

      • Ok, I see 7 zip. I accidentally clicked Winzip, not 7 zip.

        As to the iso, I know I wouldn’t use it for that purpose. However, opening an iso shows it’s contents, (folders etc) I could imagine making an iso of say my complete photo files of 2013. But I can obviously simply copy them, no problem. So, what is special that requires an iso for an OS delivery?

        • An ISO file can contain the boot sector which is installed on the optical disc when it is burned which makes it bootable..

  64. You might want to revisit your recommendation for ImgBurn. Based on your recommendation, I downloaded the newest version. It was immediately removed from my download folder because Trend Micro detected the presence of an adware component identified as ADW_OPENCANDY. provides the following information…

    The application SetupImgBurn_2.5.8.0.exe, “ImgBurn Installer” has been detected as a potentially unwanted program by 8 anti-malware scanners. This is a self-extracting archive and installer, however the file is not signed with an authenticode signature from a trusted source. The installer uses the OpenCandy monitzation platform which will download and install offers in the setup for potentially unwanted software including ad/search-supported toolbars. The file has been seen being downloaded from and multiple other hosts.

      • That’s the same place I downloaded from. I tried three different mirrors with the same result each time. It was identified as containing malware by the following

        Agnitum Outpost
        Bkav FE
        ESET NOD32
        Rising Antivirus
        Trend Micro House Call
        Trend Micro
        Vba32 AntiVirus

          • I wonder if I also got some problems downloading imgburn. I downloaded 2 programs today, one of them imgburn. I then found out my Browser was hijacked! I did a careful look at what happened and ultimately had to uninstall a program whose name escapes me and then reset Firefox to default, resulting in a bout the loss of an hour’s time.

            I saw no tagalong programs when I ran the installations. What I did find out is I needed to invoke the custom installation to expose the tagalong.

            Bad news! How many other tricks are there waiting in the wings!

            Malware identified 12 PUPS!

        • I checked it out and it does try to instal the Conduit Search bar. If you use custom install, you can uncheck the box which installs Conduit. I do agree that Ninite is the way to go to install any programs which they have made available.

          • I don’t install any “meta” apps (programs that keep drivers and other software up to date). Every month or two I have to completely detox my father-in-law’s computer because he insists on installing these meta apps. They invariably (rude word) up his computer requiring the re-installation of an image. If a program or driver isn’t broken, or if the new feature is not one I need then I don’t install the update. Ninite looks to be such a program. I decide when updates are done. And if the official download from imgburn contains the crapware then I suspect every other download location will as well.

  65. Windows 8 can open .iso files also. The icon is a disk in a file. You double click it to open it. It works the same as any disk on your computer. Drag or drop or whatever you do to any disk.

  66. Thought it worth mentioning that Nero both creates ISO files and burns them to disk, since an awful lot of people have Nero. Of course, a Nero owner would have found that double-clicking the ISO file would launch Nero and start the burn-original-disk-to-CD/DVD process, and would be unlikely to need this excellent a rticle.

    • Just occurred to me – this may not apply to the OEM versions of Nero which seem to have become littlemore than marketing tools

  67. I don’t see the point of an .iso file. Why not just make a copy of the disc? That’s what I’ve been doing since CD writers came to the public.

    • An ISO file can contain the boot sector which is installed on the optical disc when it is burned which makes it bootable.

    • if you had loads of cd’s and a usb memory stick, you could make ISOs of the cd’s and put them on the memory stick. So instead of taking loads of cd’s here and there in your bag you just pop the usb memory stick in your pocket and you have access to the contents of all those cd’s without being weighed down.

  68. Answere to ISO files I use DVD Shrink to play them and burn them to disc also have Image Burn and DVD decrypter all free downloads from the net Hank

  69. The function (not purpouse) of an ISO file is containing the data of a CD (DVD) as is, including file system, bootsectors (if any), songs, files, and so on.
    So e.g. if you have an ISO file of a music CD, it does not contain the tracks as files. You would need a rip program to get them as WAV files or whatever filetype you like. This is the native format of CD’s. CD players ‘know’ how to handle it.
    If you use CD (DVD) for file storage, any type of file, and make an ISO of it, your ‘unzip’ program can find those files.
    I can not tell why software is published in this format, but whith this article you know how to handle it.

    Maybe some people find this explanation more clear than Leo’s. For me Leo’s was perfect. Thanks as always.

    • Normally, there shouldn’t be any difference than if it were created in Windows. If it doesn’t work, it would indicate that it was incorrectly created.

    • An iso file is a container for other files or file systems – audio, data or whatevr. Read the article on how to extract its contents, and then in the extracted content I would expect to find audio files that you can play normally.

  70. need help with this.
    I have an ISO file, when I mount it or load it into my ISO software, it only shows the bootloader files and obviously only burns the bootloader files. However, the actual ISO image contains OS files and folders. I cannot burn the complete 4.38GB ISO file. I have tried with….. MAGIC ISO, POWER ISO and BLIND WRITE but to no avail. need some help please.

  71. Hi

    I have to create my own ISO image for my drivers.
    I want to execute specific file when ISO image stat execution.
    How I can tell ISO to run first specific file when ISO start execution?
    For example I have 10 shell script in my ISO, all are depends on each other. I want to run specific shell script first, when ISO stats execution.


  72. i have a problem when i extract iso with power ios or magic iso the setup files dont work and sometimes it turns into .bat and shows an error this not a valid win32 application plz help me!!!!!!!


  74. I have an ISO image from a CD from 1996, and I’m trying to extract the data through WinRAR. It can easily extract into a folder onto my PC but most of the extracted files are listed as having a size of “0 kb”. And yet when you look at the same files in the ISO on WinRar, the correct sizes are there! Why won’t it extract the files correctly?

  75. I decided to upgrade to Win10 from Vista …
    The down load from for Win10 occured, took about an hour, the file created si Win10_J511_2_English_x32_iso …

    But cannot do anything with it … cannot open it. Tried Microsoft chat support, but the queue is always full, like 50+

    Suggestion / recommendation?

    • If you downloaded an ISO, then you need to read the article and burn it to a DVD so that you can boot from it to perform the Windows install.

  76. Sir, Could you please help me to convert winrar file to iso file, i have tried everything to get but nothing happend. I have tried imgburn, poweriso nothing is working out for me.
    Actually i have downloaded iso file from drive but it is downloaded in winrar format, so how to get my iso file.. ???

    • It really depends on exactly what you’re trying to do and how you expect to use the result. There are many possible solutions depending on all the details.

  77. I did not know I even had files.
    I want to know did ISO come with my phone . I want to see my files. I’m not very savvy . But this is making my me mad I don’t want files saved or messages nothing . I remove the ISO permissions on my google account it comes right back . I’m fusstraded . If there is anything saved files I want to see them .

  78. The other day you were saying you used Thunderbird as a mail client and along with that you also used Lightning which is Mozilla’s calendar. I’ve used Thunderbird for a long time now but I was never able to install Lightning so I thought I would give it one more try to no avail. The Lightning file that came down was a “.xpi” file that Windows didn’t know how to open and neither did I. Is it possible that a .xpi file can be opened by the same methods you talk about in this article to open an .iso file? I am still using the Windows calendar and would like to try Lightning.

    • The easiest way to install Lightning and other add-ons is to click on the hamburger icon (3 horizontal lines)in Thunderbird (towards the upper right), click add-ons from the pulldown menu, click extensions in the left column, type Lightning in the Search for ad-ons bar, click on install where it says Lightning.

    • Current versions of Thunderbird already include Lightning, if I’m not mistaken. Anyway to add an .xpi file you would to so from within Thunderbird -> Tools -> Add Ons -> Extensions -> Add from file.

  79. Leo, I’m a ‘yuge’ fan, but I am a little disappointed that you would recommend software (7-Zip in particular) that reports is infected.

  80. My computer is getting old but works fine. Occasionally I’ve had to reinstall the operating system from the boot disc. Since I’m told the info on boot discs becomes corrupted over time, I was wondering if I could copy my OS boot disc to either a memory stick or an external hard drive. Can I just copy it as normal or do I need to copy it as an ISo by using the procedures and programs that have been mentioned here?

    • Not sure where the “boot disc becomes corrupted over time” comes from. Sure, maybe over 15-20 years, but it’s never been an issue for me.

      The BEST solution is actually to install the system clean from the boot disk, once, and then take a backup image of the result. Now instead of reinstalling from the boot disk you simply restore that image.

  81. I have some questions, maybe you can answer that I am not finding an answer too.

    Image or ISO files are suppose to be an exact duplicate of the original disk or media that the ISO was produced from, minus only any space or blank areas before, after or in between files.

    I have downloaded several programs to copy my old disk into images, so that I can ditch the disk and to see which imaging program works best for me.

    I don’t understand, how an exact image of data is different sizes when using different image creation programs on the very same disk.

    It seems all or most of the image making programs requires the user to type in a Volume or disk name.
    If you put in a different name, how is the image an exact copy of the original? If you burn the image back to disk with a different volume name,
    it seems to me the image would not be an exact copy if the name is different.

    In the past when installing programs from disk, some will call for sequential disk by name, ie.. recovery disk 2, data disk or art disk. If you change a name on one of them, would than not produce a non-functional disk when re burned in this case? Seems to me that the image making software would simply read and use the original name, in order to make an exact copy, rather that asking for a volume name each time.

    I know that a downloaded OS oem image can produce a bootable OS disk when burned to a disk. But it seems making an image of a bootable disk may or only sometimes produces a bootable disk when burned back to disk. So how does that work or not? If the original data included bootable data, why is it that making an image does not always produce a bootable disk when burned?

    • Different sizes: I believe most imaging programs also compress, and the amount and type of compression used can cause a variation in resulting size. Remember that an ISO is one TYPE of image file, there are others (like those created by backup programs).
      I’ve not seen an image program require you to type in a volume name — I’d need specifics.
      Again, it all really depends on exactly what imaging program you’re using.


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