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WinCDEmu is an open-source CD emulator that allows you to mount optical disc images by clicking on them. If you’ve downloaded an ISO image you want to use without burning a disc, WinCDEmu is for you.
Reviewing complex software can be a lot of fun, especially when it means you get to spend your time hunting down diamonds in the rough, like WinCDEmu. There are lots of worthwhile optical disc emulators available like AnyDVD and Daemon Tools. Even though these offer lots of features and emulations modes like the ability to mount copy-protected discs- and WinCDEmu doesn’t- those other programs are still hard to use compared to this one.
Once you install it, just double-click any .iso, .cue, .raw, or .img image, and it will mount automatically. Then the CD/DVD will autorun. Right-click on the drive letter it produces, choose Eject, and the drive will vanish. There's no tray applet or Start Menu to configure.
The program is meant to work as an integrated part of Windows, and it does. There’s an available Add/Remove programs entry, so if it causes you any problems you can easily remove it. But it never did any harm to my system, and I run modest machines most of the time.
- One-click mounting
- Supports nearly any virtual drive
- Runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows OS versions from XP to 10
- Allows the creation of ISO images via a context menu through Explorer
- Small installation size, under 2MB!
- Software does not need a reboot after installation.
- Portable versions are available.
- Is translated into over 20 languages
- Does not use up drive letters when it’s not being used
- Supports DVD-video, BD-video images, and data
- Is completely free to use- licensed under LGPL
As stated, WinCDEmu works flawlessly with all image types mentioned above, including DVDs. It appears to invoke the Windows wizard each time an image type is mounted, but subsequent mountings of the same image type don’t provoke the wizard. If there’s any downside at all to WinCDEmu, it's that it’s difficult to make mounted discs persist after a reboot. You'll need to re-open your images every time you open Windows.
Persistence across reboots is rarely a deal breaker, and it certainly doesn’t detract from WinCDEmu's usefulness. In fact, you might even look at it as a kind of safety feature as it prevents you from getting too attached to having the drive available- which could be a good way to lose data if an error occurs.
As usual, free goes a long way, and this program does everything you need with a small impact on your system.
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