ISO Image Files contain everything that was on a drive, typically a CD or DVD. A common use is to read the contents of a software distribution disc to an ISO for archiving. An ISO file can be used to burn an identical copy of the original disc or it can be “mounted” and accessed from Windows as drive just like the original.
Tip: When I buy software that comes on a CD or DVD, I make my own ISO image and store it in my collection files which are well backed up. A secondary benefit is that I will then install the program from the mounted ISO image file which makes the installation process is usually much faster since you don’t want to wait on the (slow) optical drive to spin up and down nor move the laser assembly to access tracks.
How to use an ISO image file in Windows 8 Desktop
If the “Manage” tab is not showing, right-click on the ISO file, choose “Open with →” then “Choose default program…” In the box that pops up, choose “Windows Explorer”.
To burn the ISO file to a disc, either click “Burn” in the ribbon or right-click on the file and choose “Burn”.
To mount the ISO image file as a drive letter, either click “Mount” or right-click on the ISO file and choose “Mount”. If mounting fails, then continue reading.
How to mount an ISO image file in Windows XP, Vista, 7 or if mounting fails in Windows 8
Free Software – Virtual CloneDrive from SlySoft
Download and install Virtual CloneDrive. This utility will let you right-click on an ISO file to “Mount” a drive as a drive letter. To unmount, right-click on the created drive and choose “Eject” just like you would do with a USB flash drive.