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[Windows] Mount ISOs and other disc images with WinCDEmu, a portable program

2013-04-15_230439 [1]In today’s day and image, ISO, CUE, IMG, and other disc image mounting software are a dime a dozen; there are so many programs out there that mount disc images and they all, more or less, work the same so there it really makes no big difference which one you use. For the longest time VirtualClone Drive [2] has been a dotTech favorite (and still is). However, WinCDEmu offers something VirtualClone Drive and many other mounting software don’t — portability.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

WinCDEmu is a program that allows you to mount (and unmount) and explore disc images. WinCDEmu emulates CD/DVD/Blu-ray/HD-DVD drives, so the disc image can be of a CD, DVD, Blu-ray, or HD-DVD and WinCDEmu will be able to mount it.

Pros

Cons

Discussion

2013-04-15_223950 [3]When it comes down to it, WinCDEmu is pretty much like all other disc mounting programs; it allows you to quickly and easily mount/unmount disc images. What makes WinCDEmu different are four features:

That said, WinCDEmu isn’t without its flaws. The biggest flaw with WinCDEmu is in regards to its portability.

2013-04-15_221601 [4]You see, it is technically impossible to mount disc images in Windows without the use of a third-party driver because, with the exception of Windows 8, Windows does not natively support the ability to mount disc image files. So to mount a disc image in Windows, regardless of its format, requires the use of a third-party driver. Even though WinCDEmu itself is portable, it still needs that third-party driver in order to mount a disc image. So when you run the portable version of WinCDEmu, you are prompted with a message that tells you that a driver needs to be installed and you must allow it to be installed, otherwise WinCDEmu will not work.

Requiring the installation of a driver is counter to the whole idea of portability but is a limitation that WinCDEmu — and other disc mounting programs — cannot work around. On the bright side, installing the driver is quick and painless; the driver is installed instantly, on-the-fly with the click of a button and removed instantly, on-the-fly with the click of a button. In other words, installing/uninstalling the driver does not require you to restart your computer nor does it require technical knowledge — you just need to click a button.

Another issue I ran into with WinCDEmu is, for some reason, it doesn’t create any right-click context menu entries on my Windows 7 machine. (Yes, I ran as administrator during install.) The right-click context menus — ‘Select drive letter & mount’ or ‘Create ISO Image’ — are created just fine on my Windows XP but not on Windows 7, which is very odd.

The big question is: when considering the fact that there are so many other disc mounting programs out there, do the pros outweigh the cons of WinCDEmu? In my opinion, yes the pros outweigh the cons… unless you really like your right-click context menu entries and you run Windows 7.

Conclusion and download link

WinCDEmu is a good disc image mounter. It does have its quirks, but its portability, small footprint, and I-don’t-need-to-always-be-running-in-background attitude add enough value-added features to WinCDEmu to differentiate WinCDEmu from the horde of disc image mounters. Personally speaking, I don’t like the fact that WinCDEmu doesn’t add right-click context menu entries on my Windows 7 so I will be sticking to VirtualClone Drive [2]. However, that is my personal decision and not necessarily a hint to stay away from WinCDEmu. Indeed, overall, WinCDEmu is good enough to get a recommendation from dotTech: get it if you need or want it.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 3.6 (installer), 3.4 (portable)

Supported OS: Windows XP/2003/Vista/2008/Win7 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Download size: 812 KB (installer), 230 KB (portable)

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46 [5] (installer), 0/46 [6] (portable)

Is it portable? Yes

WinCDEmu homepage [7]

[Thanks Giovanni!]