How to Burn or Mount Almost Anything — For Free!

Anyone that uses Peer-to-Peer networking software, beta-tests, or downloads more often than they brush their teeth, has (on one or more occasion) found the need to burn or mount a file. Sometimes the file is of a normal and commonly-used format, but not always. Everyone knows how to burn an ISO file, but knowing what to do with that mdf or pdi certainly might come handy one day – especially if you can do it for free and without having to waste a CD/DVD!!

Mount Anything

You just downloaded a file of some obscure format or the other, and you want to test it out. You don’t especially need to have it on a physical disk somewhere; you just want to test it out and maybe install whatever is on it – and if you can do that without wasting a precious CD or DVD, so much the better. What to do? How to do it? Can it all really be done for free?

Here’s the software we selected that gets the job done, all for free. The list below is ordered from our favorite to least-favorite tools for the job. The first listing is the most preferable tool to get the job done; should it not support the file you’d like to mount, move down the list until you find a program that does.

Virtual CloneDrive

  • Download
  • Company: SlySoft Corp.
  • Supported Filetypes: ccd, dvd, iso, udf, bin/cue

Pros

SlySoft’s excellent Virtual CloneDrive is our Editor’s Pick for the day. VirtualClone drive is fastest product on the list, with an almost invisible emulation layer that makes it seems as if you’re opening the files natively & support for multiple emulated drives (“sheep”). Virtual CloneDrive doesn’t use any background programs or services to mount your files, and its interface is straight-forward and easy-to-use. It doesn’t clutter your system tray nor fill up your start menu: just right click the drive in My Computer, and select the file to mount. It doesn’t get easier than that.

Cons

Virtual CloneDrive has only a couple of minor drawbacks, if you can work-around/live-with these, then you don’t need to look any further.

  • Limited image format support.
  • Doesn’t work on Vista as of version 5.1.4.5.1

Daemon Tools

  • Download
  • Company: DAEMON Tools
  • Support Filetypes: iso, bwt, cdi, b5t, cue/bin, mds/mdf, nrg, pdi

Pros

Daemon Tools is the oldest name on the list, and has managed to keep up with the times. Ever since version 4 came out, Daemon Tools has been one of the best image mounting softwares on the market. It alone from the programs reviewed provides in-built DRM-circumvention software, including workarounds for SafeDisc, Securom, RMPS, and LaserLock. It has a trusted name, an active community, and a very solid framework.

Cons

While Daemon Tools is free for personal use it ships with spyware. Daemon Tools comes with the “WhenU Search” spyware that results in nasty ads and tracking of personal information. Installing the spyware is optional but it’s selected by default during the setup. The included DRM-circumvention is a decent-but-not-excellent implementation, but still better than nothing. Daemon Tools isn’t as fast nor as light of a solution as Virtual CloneDrive, but it’s almost as good.

MagicDisc

  • Download
  • Company: MagicISO Corp.
  • Supported Filetypes: bin, ima/img, cif, nrg, ccd, mdf/mds, vcd, vaporcd, p01/md1, vc4, vdi, c2d, bwi/bwt, cdi, tao/dao, pdi

Pros

MagicDisc, the freeware counterpart to MagicISO, is without a doubt the most versatile image mounting software out there. It supports virtually every format you’ll ever come across, and is 100% compatible with Windows Vista. MagicDisc supports multiple drives, and has many features not present in the other programs reviewed in this article – namely image validiation and forced mounts. Like the other programs, Daemon Tools has support for multiple emulated drives. Its support for Windows Vista is complete and bug-free

Cons

Don’t let MagicDisc’s long list of supported formats fool you. While it may mount these formats, it crashes far too often to be considered dependable, and can take your system down with it. While it officially support Windows Vista, it’s tenacious at best. Many times mounting a new image won’t be reflected until you restart your system. MagicDisc’s interface is cluttered with useless links to MagicDisc, and is very hard to navigate – it’s like jamming Outlook into a taskbar icon. MagicDisc is also the slowest-performing program we tested. Use MagicDisc only if you really need support for one of the less-popular file formats.

Bonus: Y.A.S.U.

If you’re using any of the above programs to mount a game CD or DVD instead of using the actual thing, it’s probably a good idea to go and download Y.A.S.U. while you’re at it. Y.A.S.U. prevents games from detecting the presence of a virtual drive, allowing them to pretend to be physical optical drives. Y.A.S.U. is not a SecuROM circumvention program, rather it covers up the presence of such programs instead.


  1. Virtual CloneDrive 5.1.4.5 used to work on previous versions of Windows Vista. However, on Vista RTM it results in a BSOD, and a “last known good configuration” boot is required to get the system working once more. 

14 thoughts on “How to Burn or Mount Almost Anything — For Free!

  1. How to burn ANYTHING: A lighter, match, or other flammable device.

    How to mount ANYTHING: First of all, you must be male. Get ‘er up, mount away. You may want to run the “finger” command first, and have a firewall for protection.

  2. Excellent advice – I’d like to see an article about circumevnting copyright protection schemes and DRM though – I’m sure you guys can do that best, and recommend the niftiest tools for the job.

  3. I DOWNLOADED VIRTUA TENNIS 3 FOR PC, ITS AN ISO FILE I USE MY DVD+DL BURNER WITH DVD+R DISC TO BURN THE GAME ON THE DISC, BUT IT DOESNT WORK AFTER BURNING GAME BECAUSE IT BURNS THE GAME AS AN UDF FILE, SO HOW DO I CORRECTLY BURN THIS ISO GAME FILE ONTO MY DVD+R DISC SO I CAN INSTALL THE GAME ONTO MY COMPUTER TO PLAY?

  4. sorry but i have windows vista premium and virtual clone drive works perfect,i tried daemon but i cant get that to work,but like i say vcd works very well under vista

  5. Heyah .. Umm .. I Downloaded A New Sims2 Game For My Pc But Have No Idea How To Install It :L .. It Said In The Readme To Burn Or Mount It .. The File Is Too Big To Burn To A Cd And I Have No Idea How To Mount Game Or Even Make ‘Images’ :S .. Could Some One Give Me A Step By Step Please?

    I Have A Few Programs That Will Do The Job I Think .. One Is Alchohol 120%, Daemon Tools, Power ISO, GiPoFileUtils And A Few Others Which I’m Not Sure What They Are.

    Help Would Be Muchly Appreciated, Thankyou x

  6. I don’t agree with your Cons listed for MagicDisc, but then again then this article is 4 years old and the program is much more updated and stable now. I <3 MagicDisc :)

    I found this article via stumbleupon

  7. I use alcohol 52% and I don’t see any drawbacks. You might want to add that to your list… The newest version has some axvertising I think, bit I’m sure you can find an older one in a torrent. I have the latest one before they put ads in it

  8. I use PowerISO. I’ve found it works better than Daemon Tools for mounting images from games with DRM.

  9. Your Cons for MagicDisk are pretty much bs. I’m assuming it’s because they’re no longer relevant. I’ve never had the program crash, and it’s been running almost perpetually on my machine. The only time I turn it off is to play games. Otherwise, it mounts images instantly.

    I’ve version 2.7 on a Windows 7 64-bit machine.

  10. i’m downloading the sms 2 like laura but my problem was i have a netbook so i dont have a disk drive……… any way i can download it without any disk burning?

  11. i’m downloading the sms 2 like laura but my problem was i have a netbook so i dont have a disk drive……… any way i can download it without any disk burning?=/?

  12. Doesn’t seem to work. I have clone cd but it’s not rewritable and I have WMP 11 but it only allows me to burn to my real rewritable. So how do I burn in iso image from my WMP music library?

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