Virtual CloneDrive lives up to its name. This free tool allows you to mount ISO, IMG, CCD, DVD, UDF, and BIN files. The main difference from comparable tools is that the mounted drive is indistinguishable from a physical drive. You can test this by mounting an ISO image from a video DVD. If you right-click the drive letter, you will notice that Windows thinks that it deals with a real DVD drive because the context menu contains a “play” entry. All other freeware ISO mounting tools I’ve tried so far didn’t have this capability. This can be useful with applications that require a real DVD drive to work properly (for example, reference books).
Another advantage is that you can easily ensure that Windows always assigns the same drive letter to the virtual DVD drive. Like a physical disk, Virtual CloneDrive drives appear in the Windows Disk Management applet. There you can change the drive letter like with any other drive. This is even possible if you didn’t mount a DVD or CD image. The number of Virtual CloneDrive drives that appear in Disk Management depends on the Virtual CloneDrive configuration.
To mount an ISO image, you only have to double-click the ISO file. VirualClone Drive will use the drive that appears on the first position in Windows Disk Management. Another double-click on another ISO image will unmount the DVD and load the new image. If you want to mount an additional image, you have to right-click the ISO file and navigate to the VirtualClone Drive context menu.
Useful is the tool’s automount feature. If enabled, VirualClone Drive will automatically mount the ISO image after you boot. I also like the Virtual CloneDrive’s history function. It allows you to mount previously loaded ISO images quickly through the tool’s Systray icon. To unmount an ISO image you can use the Windows eject function. Don’t worry; this won’t eject your hard drive. 😉
Thus far my favorite ISO image mounting tool is Gizmo Drive because it also allows you to mount VHD images. However, because Virtual CloneDrive is more convenient to use and has superior virtualization capabilities, I now use both tools.