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Use ISO Images Without Burning to Disk

By Andy Warren, (first published: 2004/07/16)

For those of you who have an MSDN subscription you may have noticed that many of the downloads are now available as ISO images (basically a copy of the data as it exists on disk, sector by sector). Win XP makes short work of burning those images to CD as readable files, but so far burning to DVD directly doesn't seem to be supported. More than that, a lot of time what I want is to just use the files on the machine, I don't need them on CD, so it's just extra work to extract to CD and then copy back to disk.

Last year I used UnDisker when I needed a download but didn't have a CD burner handy. Costs about $45, will also let you create ISO images if you need them. There are others I'm sure.

Recently I needed to download VS.Net 2005 so we could load on a test machine at work. It's an ISO image, but DVD sized. While I was trying to figure out how to get the files on DVD I noted a link on MSDN to something called the Windows XP Virtual CD Control Panel. Long winded, but basically what it does is let you treat an ISO image as a drive - nice! It's unsupported, but the price is right.

You can definitely find it for download via the MSDN subscriber home page, after a little searching I found this direct link to it. Running the downloaded exe results in three files; a readme.txt, vcdrom.sys, and VCdControlTool.exe. Run the VCdControlTool to get this:

Install the driver:

Add a virtual drive:

Now click the mount button, browse to the location of the ISO image, click ok, click ok again. You should then see something like this:

That's all there is to it. Open Explorer and you should be able to browse the file structure of the ISO image. Might come in handy someday.

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