Starting from ESET v4, it comes with SysRescue which is a Live CD to boot up a badly infected computer to scan and clean up viruses. However when I wanted to create SysRescue Live CD, I was asked to download and install the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) first. The size of the file is shockingly huge at 1.34GB! After the download had finished, I thought it was a setup file where I could run and install the required WAIK. Then I found out that it was an ISO file. No big deal because I normally use PowerArchiver to extract the ISO file so I can access the files without burning it to a disc. It took merely 2 seconds to extract and there is only 1 README.TXT file in the extracted folder. In the text file it said:
This disc contains a “UDF” file system and requires an operating system that supports the ISO-13346 “UDF” file system specification.
Looks like the older version of PowerArchiver I was using at the time didn’t support extracting ISO-13346 (UDF) images. These days, Power Archiver and most other archiving tools such as 7-Zip and HaoZip are able to extract this type, but at the time I had this problem a lot of them didn’t. I certainly didn’t want to burn the ISO to a disc so the next solution to access the files in the ISO image was to use a Virtual CD/DVD-ROM emulator to mount the image file to a drive letter.
Here are 10 free virtual CD/DVD emulators that you can use to mount images. Some are very simple and small that are just meant for mounting image files but some have more features such as allowing you to create images from a CD/DVD and also emulate CD protections.
The list below is arranged based on the file size (from small to big) of the downloaded installer. The reason is I am looking for a simple software to mount the Windows Automated Installation Kit ISO image.
- There is no official webpage for this tool and you won’t find much information about it on the Microsoft website because they offer absolutely no support for it. At the time of writing, even their own download link doesn’t work! What I like about this tool is it doesn’t require installation and the whole package is very small in size. The program requires a bit of manual work to install the driver though, so you need to read the Readme.txt carefully. Although it’s listed as only XP compatible, I have test it successfully with Vista and Win 7 32-bit.
- Very straight forward interface for you to mount an image file and also create an ISO image from a physical disc. However this tool is unable to mount ISO-13346 (UDF) images and there are no double click or right click integration options even though it has to be installed. It supports XP and Vista, Windows 7 32-bit worked but I couldn’t mount to any drive letters above J:.
- Mounting an ISO image file using WinCDEmu is really easy. Just install and all you need to do is to double click on the ISO image file to automatically mount it to a drive letter. If you want to unmount, just right click on the drive and select Eject. WinCDEmu also has a simple option to create an ISO from a CD/DVD, just right click on the drive in Explorer and Choose “Create ISO Image”. A portable version is available but isn’t as up to date as the installer. There is support for XP to Windows 7 including 64-bit.
4. Alcohol 52%
- Be VERY CAREFUL during install as I counted 4 screens in total for you to opt-out of installing adware! The free version supports up to 6 virtual drives, RMPS protection emulation, can create images from physical discs and a CD/DVD manager that gives detailed information about drives and discs. There is also a downloadable Audio Converter option but again be careful because this installer contains as much if not more adware than the main installer! Alcohol 52% works on Windows 2000 up to Windows 7.
- MagicDisc is created by the same developer of the popular MagicISO. It can mount a wide range of CD/DVD image formats and can also create a CD/DVD image from disc. The program has no GUI and works entirely from the right click context menu in the system tray icon. It supports just about everything from Windows 98 up to Windows 7. Make sure you download the correct version as there are 4 different ones! One for 98,2000 and ME, one for Windows 7 (x86 and x64), and a separate 32-bit and 64-bit version for XP, 2003, 2008 and Vista.
- Virtual CloneDrive is very simple to use, supports a number of different formats and allows up to 8 virtual drives at the same time. While there are no extra options like creating an ISO, usage is as easy as double clicking on an image file to auto mount it as a drive. This is just a simple no frills image mounting utility. Supports from Windows 98 up to Windows 7 64-bit.
- This tool works a little different by mounting ISO images and even ZIP files as a virtual folder. Simply right click on an ISO or ZIP, select “Quick Mount” and the file will turn into a readable folder which you can then browse or execute files. Included is a converter to change various disc image formats to an encrypted ISO, and also an interesting tool to create a Self Mounting Compact File Set. Pismo supports 32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions from XP to 7.
8. Phantom CD
- Phantom CD supports XP, Vista and Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit. This software installer is quite huge in size compared to the above tools and it can only mount 1 drive letter. There are absolutely no options or extras such as creating an image from disc, you can mount, eject or load the last image. That’s it. This does make you wonder why Phantom CD is nearly 8MB and offers less than something like WinCDEmu which is under 1MB. It also requires a reboot on install and uninstall.
9. Gizmo Drive
- The Gizmo Drive tool is part of a larger suite of tools called Gizmo Central, although you can turn off the other tools during install. This is the only free virtual disc emulator that can create an image from both disc and folder. There are some other useful options like mounting virtual hard disc (VHD) files, and also a function to burn a folder or ISO to disc. Gizmo Drive also has a very handy ace up its sleeve, and that is the built in support to create a RAM Disc. Have a read of our RAM disc article to see how it performs. It works on Windows 2000 up to Windows 7 64-bit.
10. DAEMON Tools Lite
- Be careful during installation because it will ask to install adware. You will also need to select the “Free License” during the install process, and there is also an option to install an online service called Mountspace which has been mentioned in this article. The number of supported image formats is huge and you can also create an image from a physical CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disc. Up to 4 virtual drives are supported including a SCSI virtual drive which can emulate disc protections. Supports from Windows 98 up to Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit.