Virtual CloneDrive: Dead simple tool to mount/unmount disc images (.ISO, .UDF, .IMG, etc.)

How many dotTechies know what a disc image is? Most of us properly either know what it is, used one before, or have at least heard of it. If I asked this same question, say, 3-4 years ago, most of us probably would not have known what a disc image is or even heard of a disc image. Why? Because only until recently have legitimate activities/software involved the use of disc images; in the past disc images were popular mainly in the dark corners of the internet – they made (make) pirating software a lot easier. Ripping a software off a CD into an ISO and uploading it onto the Internet so someone else could download it and burn it onto another CD or install wasn’t (isn’t) a hard task. (Although, who really buys software that comes with discs nowadays? I mean, seriously, it is all about the shareware [or freeware] – download, install, and go. There is no need to make a trip down to your local Best Buy for something you can download off the developer’s website.) However, as I just mentioned, nowadays disc images is a technology that is becoming increasingly popular among mainstream computer users. So, one needs to be well equipped to handle a disc image shall one ever show up at our door step.

Before we go over methods of how to work with disc images, lets quickly describe what a disc image is, for those that don’t know. A disc image can be considered to be the virtual relative of a physical disc; a disc image is the exact same thing as a physical disc… with being an actual physical disc. In other words, similar to how you can virtualize your computer, you can virtualize a disc. For example, lets say you have a Diablo II CD and a Diablo II disc image. The contents of the CD and the disc image are the exact same. The only difference is with the CD you can put it in your optical drive and run Diablo II; with the disc image you need to mount it – as opposed to putting it in your optical drive – before you can run Diablo II. (You may also decide to burn the disc image onto a physical disc, if you wish, but often mounting an image is more convenient.) Mounting a disc image makes it work just like if you had a physical disc and you put that physical disc into your disc drive.

So, now the question is: How do you mount a disc image? With an optical drive emulator, of course. Ever heard of Dameon Tools? Dameon Tools is probably one of the most popular drive emulators. For the longest time Dameon Tools was the go-to software if you needed an optical drive emulator. However, Dameon Tools has now become shareware and is rumored to be bundled with spyware, toolbar, and other crap you don’t want on your computer. (I say “rumored” because I have read about this and not actually seen it myself since I have not used Dameon Tools for years.) Hence, today I introduce you to Virtual CloneDrive, a freeware drive emulator that is 100% clean and dead simple to use.

Virtual CloneDrive supports emulation of CD/DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray drives and allows users to mount/unmount .ISO, .IMG, .DVD, .CCD, .UDF, and .BIN images. Users can either set Virtual CloneDrive as the default manager for these disc images (during installation you have the option to “associate” these disc image formats with Virtual CloneDrive) in which case all you have to do is double click a disc image and Virtual CloneDrive will automatically mount/unmount it, or users can mount/mount disc images via various different right-click menus:

  • Right-clicking on a virtual drive:

  • Right-clicking on a disc image:

  • Right-clicking on the Virtual CloneDrive system tray icon:

Virtual CloneDrive gives users the ability to have up to 15 virtual drives at a time; this option can be controlled via the “Settings…” you see in the above screenshot:

The more virtual drives you have, the more will show in My Computer and in the right-click menu of the system try icon. Of course, more virtual drives you have means you can mount multiple disc images at a time. If you would like to be able to differentiate a virtual drive from a physical drive, you can turn on the “Virtual Sheep” feature which changes the icon and name of virtual drives:

Virtual CloneDrive supports multiple different languages, for those non-English speakers:

All things considered, Virtual CloneDrive is probably the most clean and easy-to-use optical drive emulator you will find right now. You may grab Virtual CloneDrive from the following links:

Version reviewed: v5.4.4.0

Supported OS: Windows 98 and higher

Download size: 1.5 MB

Virtual CloneDrive homepage [direct download]

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17 comments

  1. Giovanni

    Hey Ashraf…

    Other great FREE tools to mount Images and even Archives on Virtual drives worthy to be downloaded, are also the following one:

    http://www.kernsafe.com/product/totalmounter.aspx
    http://www.gburner.com/online-help/virtual-drive.htm
    http://wincdemu.sysprogs.org/
    http://www.winarchiver.com/virtual-drive.htm

    And for a limited period of time, you can also grab a 1 year FREE license of this excellent virtual drive tool by Farstone:

    http://www.softwaregifts.nl/farstone-virtualdrive-14-pro-gratis-licentie.html

    Enjoy!!

  2. Stephen

    A friend recently started me on using this drive, and having given me the ISO, and I having mounted it, installed the game, and left it mounted, for some reason when starting the game it is telling me that i must “insert the correct CD ROM”. Considering that the game has been installed I am in shock as to how it recognizes the disk in Virtual Clone drive enough to install and run autorun, yet it cannot read the mounted ISO so that it is playable. Any ideas as to what the issue may be.

  3. Corno

    I have been using Virtual Clone Drive for over 10 years now and it has always served me well. Deamon tools I never liked very much. In recent years I have started to also use VirtualCD, which allows you to turn a real CD-drive into a virtual one (with the driveletter D assigned to it, which is handy for some older software).

  4. Jyo

    Personally, I prefer Daemon Tools Lite over any other software. It’s light, simple, free, and just works.
     
    @anemialname: How exactly does daemon mess up your game? The only problem I’ve ever run into is you cannot reboot with the virtual drive still actively mounting an ISO file successfully.

  5. anemialname

    Do you know how this compares to Daemon?
    I have all my Cd’s ripped to ISO’s because I hate clutter so if this is better than Daemon I will change up.
    Sometimes Deamon messes up when I’m playing a game.
    Thanks Ashraf!

  6. chuck

    Thanks for the links.I remember reading those and not realizing I might have a need for a VM. Seems now I do,as my main concern is if I’ve been ripped off.I already burned the ISO’s to DVD,and have been very reluctant to wipe my drive on one of my old XP comps and install Win7 only to find it’s not genuine.That would suck because I won’t run “pirate ware” either,especially an OS. Let me see if I can wrap my head around the whole VM concept.I’ll probably be back with questions.Thanks for your help,and no apology was necessary,as I should have been more clear on my situation to begin with.

  7. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Trev: Glad you enjoyed it =).

    @IT3: Nope. You need Paragon Go Virtual for that. See http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/16940

    @John G.: Well you can’t “mount” a physical disc into a virtual drive. You would first need to rip the CD into an ISO, which you can then mount into a virtual drive. I can’t remember off the top of my head which program allows you to rip a CD into an ISO, but ImgBurn (http://www.imgburn.com/) might.

    That said, many new games are now coming with “rip protection”; either they won’t successfully be ripped or the ripped version won’t have an authentication key and the game won’t recognize the ripped version. Honestly it can turn into a hassle so I would say just keep going through the motions of putting in the CD.

  8. John G.

    OK, here’s the deal. I have a game that I play, but the game requires the disc to be in the disc drive. From what I read above, I can simply mount that physical disc into a virtual drive with this program and not have to use the physical disc again. Is my thinking correct on this?
    Your posts are the greatest. You really come up with some good stuff and very informative articles.  Keep up the good work.
    John

  9. IT3

    Thanks, Ashraf! I have been wanting to create a virtual hard drive based on my hard drive for when I replace this OS.  I need a new system but don’t want to lose all the GOTD programs and other cool top-knotch software that I have and want access to while using a new operating system.
    This will work in that respect, right?

  10. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Joleca: Glad you like it.

    @chuck: Oh, my bad; I apologize. Well, I suppose that is alright, then seeing as you did not pirate or had any intent to pirate (although you may have paid for pirated software without knowing it… as you said). That said, no you can’t just mount an installation CD – such as Windows’ installation – and run it. You need to actually install the program. I think you may be interested virtualizing your PC (it will allow you to install Windows and “mount” it like a program). Read http://dottech.org/tipsntricks/14020 and http://dottech.org/freeware-reviews/16940 .

    @drtank: Glad to see you enjoy it also; and you are welcome!

  11. chuck

    Ashraf-I only bring up legitimacy because of the price that I paid for the ISO’s.Maybe I got taken,I don’t know for sure,but I do have a printed receipt for the purchase.I’m not looking to “install” a copy of Win7,just wonder if it will “run” on this comp for which I obviously paid for the Win7 that’s installed on it from the manufacturer.I assure you,I’m not trying to pull a fast one here-just wonder if you can mount and run an OS like other software-that’s all! Besides,if I have been taken for a ride,the reg codes won’t pass validation anyway-correct?

  12. chuck

    [Comment removed by Ashraf. Reason: Sorry, but if your license codes' "legitimacy is questionable", then you are essentially asking us to help you install pirated Windows. dotTech has no tolerance for such things.]