Generally, operating systems, particularly Linux and its many derivatives are available for download on the Internet packaged as an image file, e.g. an .ISO file, or as a .BIN/.CUE file. As well, larger applications are also packaged for download in this way.
To explain briefly: a disk image is a computer file containing the complete contents and structure of a data storage medium or device, such as a hard drive, CD or DVD. As such, a disk image contains all the information necessary to replicate the structure and contents layout, as well as the actual contents, of a storage device.
Since I download and test operating systems and large applications frequently, over the course of the last year I could have easily burned up to 50+ CD’s or DVD’s just to use or install the software for testing. But by having Virtual CloneDrive installed on my test system, I saved time and resources.
Virtual CloneDrive is a small freeware application that allows you to mount image files, from a hard drive, as a virtual CD or DVD drive, just as if you had inserted the application into a physical CD/DVD drive.
Once Virtual CloneDrive is installed on your system it will be assigned a drive letter, and will appear as a drive in Windows explorer.
To mount an image file navigate to the file and right-click. When the menu pops up simply navigate to Open with > Mount Files with Virtual CloneDrive. This will create a new drive letter so that you can access the file.
An added benefit for those with a larger hard drive is you now have the option of converting your CDs and DVDs into files that run directly from your hard drive. You can play games without inserting the physical discs — simply click on a desktop icon to launch a virtual optical drive. You can share virtual CDs, photo CDs, and disc-based applications over a network, with access rates up to 200 times faster than physical CDs; boosting the performance of PC games, photo CDs, and disc-based applications.
Supports all common image formats such as ISO, BIN, CCD
Supports up to 8 virtual drives at the same time
Easy to use – just double-click an image file to mount as a drive
Virtual CloneDrive is freeware
System Requirements: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP
Download at: Elaborate Bytes AG