How to Use ISO Files in Windows XP

July 21, 2008 by
Filed under: Windows XP 

If you are running Windows XP, there is no standard support for ISO files. These files however are quite common as an alternative to installation CDs or DVDs. An ISO file is basically an image of a CD or DVD. You can use CD Burning software to create a CD from the ISO file.

But in many cases you might not want to write a CD-ROM or DVD from the ISO file, you simply want to access the contents while the ISO file resides on your hard disk. There are software solutions available for this, which create a virtual CD or DVD drive. You can then mount the ISO file as a drive and access the contents of the ISO file.

Most of these software solutions however are commercial software, which means you need to pay for them. If you do not need the fancy user interface, you can also use a virtual cd-rom tool created by Microsoft. It is called the Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel, and can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.

The downloaded file (60KB) is an installer, which you need to execute to extract the actual software. It will simply ask for a location to extract to, so select a path and click the Unzip button. Once done, click Close.

Self-extracting executable

In the folder you selected for the extracted files, you will find 3 new files, a TXT file, a SYS file and an EXE file. Basically you now follow the instructions in the TXT file. We have outlined them here with some screenshots.

  1. Copy the VCdRom.sys file to your C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder (change the C: to the drive where Windows XP is installed).
  2. Next, double-click the VCdControlTool.exe file. This will bring up the control panel window.
  3. Click the Driver Control button.
  4. Click the Install Driver button. Now browse to the C:\Windows\System32\Drivers folder and select the VCdRom.sys file.
  5. Install virtual CD-ROM driver
  6. Click the Open button.
  7. Next, click the Start button, and then click the OK button.
  8. Click the Add Drive button to create a virtual CD-Rom drive.
  9. Next, click the new drive so it is selected, and then click the Mount button. This will bring up a file selection dialog box.
  10. Mount ISO file
  11. Locate and select the ISO file you want to access, and then click the Open button.

The ISO file is mounted and you can access the content through the selected drive letter using the Windows explorer.


40 Comments on How to Use ISO Files in Windows XP

  1. Joe on Sun, 27th Jul 2008 5:55 pm
  2. The Virtual CD Control Panel only supports 32 bit Windows XP. For Windows Vista, Windows 2008, and Windows XP/2003 64 bit, the freeware Pismo File Mount Audit Package can be used to mount ISO, ZIP, and PFO files.

  3. Tien on Sun, 21st Dec 2008 1:12 pm
  4. Thanks very much for the article.

  5. Sam White 2000 on Wed, 5th Aug 2009 11:19 pm
  6. Thankx so much! I hope windows develops some type of ISO reader so you dont have to burn it onto a DVD or CD! Thanx 4 da info!

  7. Kyle on Thu, 6th Aug 2009 3:01 am
  8. @Sam – Indeed, that would be great. The current Explorer allows you to browse ZIP compressed files, but not ISO files. WinRAR does support ISO files, but that again is a (commercial) third party product.

    One more free option is MagicDisc.

    I know Windows 7 has the ability to burn ISO files directly, but I do not think you can open them in the Explorer (yet).

  9. Mark V. McDonnell on Fri, 21st Aug 2009 2:21 pm
  10. @Kyle, I’ve been using 7-Zip, a freeware solution for Windows (both 32 & 64-bit flavors), w/o issues for a coupla years.

  11. Kevin on Fri, 11th Sep 2009 2:19 am
  12. i tried to use it but every time i selected the file it would only show up inside the folder i copied it from. when i ope the sys file, it reads “handle is invalid.” what’s going on?

  13. Kyle on Fri, 11th Sep 2009 3:09 am
  14. @Kevin – Try downloading the EXE file again, it seems to me that you might have a corrupt download. Once extracted, you should be able to copy the mentioned files to the Windows\System32\Drivers folder, and select it from there in the program.

  15. tom on Sun, 20th Sep 2009 1:02 pm
  16. Accidentally created too many drives, how do i easily get rid of them to unclutter my my computer file?

  17. Kyle on Mon, 21st Sep 2009 4:02 am
  18. @tom – With the Virtual CD-Rom control panel you can just delete the drives that are linked to an ISO file. If you mean partitions on disk, you need to use the Windows Disk Management console (right-click My Computer and select Manage, then select the Disk Management module).
    Be sure to move or backup your data before you change or re-partition your hard disk!

  19. matt on Wed, 18th Nov 2009 8:50 am
  20. i have windows in iso file how to make it run in dvd . when i select nero . wich one i should select . image ? data ? or some thing els
    helpe please

  21. Kyle on Wed, 18th Nov 2009 11:09 pm
  22. @matt – You should select the image format, an .iso file is an image of a DVD or CD.

  23. jon-luc on Sun, 3rd Jan 2010 3:46 pm
  24. hey ya can you use win rar for isos ?

  25. Kyle on Sun, 3rd Jan 2010 3:51 pm
  26. @jon-luc – No, Win Rar does not support .iso files. You can use 7-Zip though.

  27. Jay G. on Sun, 3rd Jan 2010 8:33 pm
  28. Kyle, I am having the same issue that Kevin was/is having, and this was after multiple re-downloads – might you have any other solutions?

  29. jamie.b on Sun, 17th Jan 2010 5:00 pm
  30. i also found that when i try use 7 zip it just opens what ive downloaded, i can’t get it to run anything

  31. Kyle on Sun, 17th Jan 2010 11:44 pm
  32. @Jay G. – You could use a virtual CD/DVD program like MagicISO or Deamon Tools.

    @jamie.b – 7-zip is indeed a decompression program. You need to extract the full .iso content in order to run things (if you start something from within 7-zip it will first extract the file as well).

  33. pandu on Wed, 20th Jan 2010 5:57 pm
  34. @kyle:——-followed ur above method of creating a virtual drive to access an .iso file.but,as it is a huge content of two cd icons.when directly installing through virtual drive , half part of it is successful. afterwards its asking second cd or path which is not accepted even after giving it correct.can u plz plz help me

  35. Kyle on Fri, 22nd Jan 2010 2:39 am
  36. @pandu – If a program uses multiple installed CDs, you will need to mount both of them at the same time, or change the mount from the 1st to the 2nd when the installer asks for it.
    So when the 2nd CD is requested, try and repeat the steps, and select the 2nd .iso file (with the installer still open!).

  37. Dev on Tue, 26th Jan 2010 11:48 am
  38. when i mount the ISO file it says mount failed….wat to do???

  39. Kyle on Tue, 26th Jan 2010 11:56 pm
  40. @Dev – You can try using MagicDisc or Deamon Tools, but it is possible the .iso file is corrupt. If it is a downloaded .ios file, try downloading it again.

  41. TERRY on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 10:54 pm
  42. if they so much trouble why have or use them at all trust some geek to come up with a way of complicating life , and trust Microsoft for not having a solution to it ,

  43. Smoky Akash on Mon, 31st May 2010 6:57 am
  44. Thanks for the useful piece of information.. Helped a lot..

  45. Mac Guy on Thu, 10th Jun 2010 10:40 pm
  46. Thanks for your help – very clear and useful!!

  47. emilie on Fri, 18th Jun 2010 5:13 pm
  48. thanks for this step-by-step ~ very helpful!

  49. Jen on Fri, 1st Oct 2010 5:15 am
  50. Thanks! Been meaning to learn about iso files for a couple of years..

    finally an article that works—with clear and concise instructions

    Thank you again

  51. sonica on Sat, 2nd Oct 2010 3:58 pm
  52. i tried so many times .i followed each nd every step for accessing ISO files…..BUT IN LAST STEP it gives error message i.e. “mount failed”……… m confused ..i tried mount options bt still its not working…….
    y so?//

  53. Keith on Fri, 3rd Dec 2010 3:57 pm
  54. I got that error message then noticed I had not clicked on that Drive Z line in the Virtual CD ROM Control Panel window.

  55. jocky on Wed, 8th Dec 2010 4:59 am
  56. hey thanx buddy, this works!!!

  57. Opender on Sun, 2nd Jan 2011 12:13 am
  58. Thanks a LOT, this works PERFECTLY!!!

  59. Pramod Kumbhare on Sat, 8th Jan 2011 11:14 pm
  60. Yes, it works. I was about to delete the ISO file, but thanks to you.

  61. amal on Mon, 17th Jan 2011 5:43 am
  62. i tried so many times .i followed each nd every step for accessing ISO files…..BUT IN LAST STEP it gives error message i.e. “mount failed”……… m confused ..i tried mount options bt still its not workin.. after i clicked the drive z line it is still not working ….

  63. Kyle on Mon, 17th Jan 2011 11:05 am
  64. @amal – Are you certain that the ISO file is valid?
    You can try another free tool, like MagicDisc to see if you can mount the ISO with that.

  65. debasis_INDIA on Tue, 18th Jan 2011 12:57 pm
  66. Rename the ISO file . Remove the special characters and the white spaces from the iso file name.

    U may give a small name instead.
    Then try the final step.

  67. Sarit on Fri, 4th Feb 2011 6:13 pm
  68. Thank you very much dude
    Its gr88888888.
    I had 16 ISO files & I was to write them on 16 CDs but thanks a lot to you man.

  69. Lana on Sun, 13th Mar 2011 6:01 am
  70. Awesome! I would have gotten a 0 on my homework tonight if it wasn’t for this.

  71. Kevin on Tue, 22nd Mar 2011 2:32 am
  72. can this work using my Mac’s Virtual Machine? I’ve been mounting iso’s but it replies Mount Failed. What should I do?

  73. Harry on Mon, 25th Apr 2011 9:57 am
  74. wow..this really works! so satisfied that i dint waste my time reading this site! =D

  75. Tuan Cao on Tue, 28th Jun 2011 4:22 am
  76. It worked fine for me

    Thank you very much

  77. John on Sat, 2nd Jul 2011 5:25 pm
  78. How do you change the “c:” to the drive folder where windows xp is, and how do i find that?

  79. Kyle on Sun, 3rd Jul 2011 11:27 pm
  80. @John – You need to copy the file to the Windows\system32 folder on the system drive. Normally that is the C-drive.
    You can check that by simply checking your Explorer and see which drive has the “Windows” folder.
    Alternatively, open a command prompt and type “set” to see the environment variables, which contain the system folder path as well.

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