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Files with the extension ISO are a commonly used file type but I get a lot of inquiries from PC users who do not know what an ISO file is or what to do with one. If you are puzzled by ISO files, here’s what they are all about.

ISO files are simply a way of packaging a lot of files and folders together into a single file with the file extension ISO. They are generally used to create an image of a CD or DVD. Having just one file containing everything is convenient for downloading or for storing on a computer. It is becoming common to distribute programs this way instead of providing physical media. As fewer devices are coming with optical drives, you are likely to encounter ISO files more and more.

A major reason that many average PC users have trouble with ISO files is that Windows XP and Vista do not recognize them natively. If you try to open an ISO file in these older versions of Windows, they do not know what to do with it unless you have installed some third-party software to manage ISO files. However, Windows 7 does have a feature to burn ISO files to a CD or DVD.
Burning ISO files to a CD/DVD

One way to make use of ISO files is to burn the file to a physical CD or DVD disc using a process that extracts all the individual folders and files out of the ISO file and places them on the physical media. Windows 7 comes with the built-in Windows Disc Image Burner (not in earlier versions of Windows). Place a blank CD or DVD in your optical drive and double-click the ISO file. Once the disc is burnt, you can use the files and folders the usual way.

Many PCs also come with third-party software for burning discs. If one of these opens when you double-click an ISO file, choose “Burn disc image” or similar command.

There are also free programs for burning CDs or DVDs. 

Mounting an ISO file to emulate a disc

Often it is not necessary to actually burn a physical disc. It is becoming more common to use ISO files directly. Some older programs will only recognize an external disc and if that is the case you can mount the ISO file so that it appears to be on a separate drive.


Reading the contents of an ISO file without unpacking it


Some applications can read an ISO file as if it were a disc. For example, virtual machines can install Windows operating systems straight from the ISO without unpacking it. It is also possible to read contents of an ISO file with the archive program 7-Zip. It’s analogous to reading the contents of a ZIP file. 


Unpacking an ISO file directly to the hard drive or USB drive


It is also possible to use 7-Zip to extract all the files and folders from an ISO file and place them in a folder on the hard drive or on a USB drive. Just use 7-Zip in the same way as with regular archive files. There are also programs like IsoBuster. 

And there you have it – ISO files don't have to be a mystery any longer.


•    There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who do not.

•    If at first you do not succeed, call it version 1.0

•    I am not anti-social; I am just not user friendly

•    My software never has bugs. It just develops random features

•    Roses are #FF0000, Violets are #0000FF, and my entire base belongs to you

•    In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?

•    Hand over the calculator, friends do not let friends derive drunk

•    I would love to change the world, but they will not give me the source code

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•    A penny saved is 1.39 cents earned, if you consider income tax

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•    A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila

•    The code that is the hardest to debug is the code that you know cannot possibly be wrong

•    UNIX is basically a simple operating system, but you have to be a genius to understand the simplicity

•    Ethernet (n): something used to catch the ether bunny

•    C://dos

•    C://dos.run

•    run.dos.run

•    You know it's love when you memorize her IP number to skip DNS overhead

•    JUST SHUT UP AND REBOOT!!

•    1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 l41d

•    Alcohol & calculus don't mix. Never drink & derive

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•    Concept: On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape button

•    It's not bogus, it's an IBM standard

•    Be nice to the nerds, for all you know they might be the next Bill Gates!

•    The farther south you go, the more dollar stores there are

•    Beware of programmers that carry screwdrivers

•    The difference between e-mail and regular mail is that computers handle e-mail, and computers never decide to come to work one day and shoot all the other computers

•    If you want a language that tries to lock up all the sharp objects and fire-making implements, use Pascal or Ada: the Nerf languages, harmless fun for children of all ages, and they won't mar the furniture

•    COFFEE.EXE Missing - Insert Cup and Press Any Key

•    Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning

•    LISP = Lots of Irritating Silly Parentheses

•    The beginning of the programmer's wisdom is understanding the difference between getting program to run and having a runnable program

•    Squash one bug, you'll see ten new bugs popping

•    Everytime i time i touch my code, i give birth to ten new bugs

•    Boast = blogging is open & amiable sharing of thoughts

•    We are sorry, but the number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90 degrees and try again

•    Cannot find REALITY.SYS. Universe halted

•    If it weren't for C, we'd all be programming in BASI and OBO

•    Bad command or file name! Go stand in the corner

•    Bad or corrupt header, go get a haircut

•    Unrecognized input, get out of the class

•    Warning! Buffer overflow, close the tumbler !

•    WinErr 547: LPT1 not found... Use backup... PENCIL & PAPER

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•    Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes

•    Best file compression around: "rm *.*" = 100% compression

•    Hackers in Hollywood movies are phenomenal. All they need to do is "c:\> hack into fbi"

•    BREAKFAST.COM Halted...Cereal Port Not Responding

•    I survived an NT installation

•    The name is Baud......James Baud

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•    Why doesn't DOS ever say "EXCELLENT command or filename!"

•    File not found. Should I fake it? (Y/N)

•    Cannot read data, leech the next boy's paper? (Y/N)

•    CONGRESS.SYS Corrupted: Re-boot Washington D.C (Y/n)?

•    Does fuzzy logic tickle?

•    Helpdesk : Sir, you need to add 10GB space to your HD , Customer : Could you please tell where I can download that?

•    Windows: Just another pane in the glass

•    Who's General Failure & why's he reading my disk?

•    RAM disk is not an installation procedure

•    Shell to DOS...Come in DOS, do you copy? Shell to DOS...

•    The truth is out there...anybody got the URL?

•    Smash forehead on keyboard to continue.....

•    E-mail returned to sender -- insufficient voltage

•    Help! I'm modeming... and I can't hang up!!!

•    Once I got this error on my Linux box: Error. Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to continue

•    Once I got this error on my Linux box: Error. Mouse not attached. Please left click the 'OK' button to continue

•    Press any key to continue or any other key to quit...

•    Press every key to continue

•    Helpdesk: Sir if you see the blue screen, press any key to continue. Customer : hm.. just a min.. where's that 'any key'..

•    Idiot, Go ahead, make my data!

•    Old programmers never die; they just give up their resources

•    To err is human - and to blame it on a computer is even more so

•    Logical Error CLINTON.SYS: Truth table missing

•    Clinton:/> READ | PARSE | WRITE | DUMP >> MONKIA.SYS

•    (D)inner not ready: (A)bort (R)etry (P)izza

•    Computers can never replace human stupidity

•    A typical Yahoo! inbox : Inbox(0), Junk(9855210)

•    (A)bort, (R)etry, (P)anic?

•    Bugs come in through open Windows

•    Penguins love cold, they wont survive the sun

•    Unix is user friendly...its just selective about who its friends are

•    Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity

•    Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.

•    To err is human...to really foul up requires the root password.

•    Invalid password : Please enter the correct password to (Abort / Retry / Ignore )

•    FUBAR - where Geeks go for a drink

•    I degaussed my girlfriend and I'm just not attracted to her anymore

•    Scandisk : Found 2 bad sectors. Please enter a new HD to continue scanning

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•    Thank god, my baby just compiled

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•    Windows 98 supports real multitasking - it can boot and crash simultaneously

•    Zap! And there was the blue screen !

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•    MailerD(a)emon: You just received 9133547 spam. (O)pen all, (R)ead one by one, (C)heck for more spam

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•    PayPal: Your funds have been frozen for 668974 days

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•    1-800-403 : Access to that subscriber was denied

•    Error message: "Out of paper on drive D:"

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•    Firewall : Intruder detected. (A)llow in (D)eactivate the firewall

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•    Firewall : Do you want to place a motion detector on port 80 ?

•    Helpdesk: Sir, please refill your ink catridges Customer : Where can i download that?

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•    You have successfully logged in, Now press any key to log out

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•    Sorry, that username already exists. (O)verwrite it (C)ancel

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•    Shut up, or i'll flush you out

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•    I'm sorry, our software is perfect. The problem must be you

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•    If Ruby is not and Perl is the answer, you don't understand the question

•    Having soundcards is nice... having embedded sound in web pages is not

•    My computer was full, so I deleted everything on the right half

•    You have received a new mail which is 195537 hours old

•    Yahoo! Mail: Your email was sent successfully. The email will delivered in 4 days and 8 hours

•    I'm sorry for the double slash (Tim Berners-Lee in a Panel Discussion, WWW7, Brisbane, 1998)

•    Ah, young webmaster... java leads to shockwave. Shockwave leads to RealAudio. And RealAudio leads to suffering

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•    As of next week, passwords will be entered in Morse code

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•    A typical yahoo chat room: "A has signed in, A has signed out, B has signed in, B has signed out, C has signed in, C has signed out.."

•    When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop

•    Warning! No processor found! Press any key to continue

•    Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with your Microsoft product

•    NT is the only OS that has caused me to beat a piece of hardware to death with my bare hands

•    Warning! Kernel crashed, Run for your lives !

•    NASA uses Windows? Oh great. If Apollo 13 went off course today the manual would just tell them to open the airlock, flush the astronauts out, and re-install new one

•    JavaScript: An authorizing language designed to make Netscape crash

•    How's my programming? Call 1-800-DEV-NULL

•    Yes, friends and neighbors, boys and girls - my PC speaker crashed NT

•    root:> Sorry, you entered the wrong password, the correct password is 'a_49qwXk'

•    New Linux package released. Please install on /dev/null

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•    Unix...best if used before: Tue Jan 19 03:14:08 GMT 2038

•    As you well know, magic and weapons are prohibited inside the cafeteria -- Final Fantasy VIII

•    Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft...and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labo

•    Unix is the only virus with a command line interface

•    Windows 95 makes Unix look like an operating system

•    How are we supposed to hack your system if it's always down!

•    God is real, unless declared integer

•    I'm tempted to buy the slashdot staff a grammar checker. What do they do for 40 hours a week?

•    Paypal : Please enter your credit card number to continue

•    It takes a million monkeys at typewriters to write Shakespeare, but only a dozen monkeys at computers to run Network Solutions

•    Please help - firewall burnt down - lost packet - reward $$$

•    If Linux were a beer, it would be shipped in open barrels so that anybody could piss in it before delivery

•    Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle

•    Perl, the only language that looks the same before and after RSA encryption

•    Norton: Incoming virus - (D)ownload and save (R)un after download

•    I had a dream... and there were 1's and 0's everywhere, and I think I saw a 2!