Use ImDisk to mount ISO images as virtual discs
One of the plus points of Windows 8 is that it can natively mount an ISO image as a virtual disk, allowing you to browse it without requiring a physical disc. If you’d like to have that ability right now, though, there’s no need to wait -- the free ImDisk provides capable ISO handling and a whole lot more.
If you’d like to take a closer look at an ISO file, for instance, then right-click it, select “Mount as ImDisk Virtual Drive” > OK, and in a few seconds the image will be available within Explorer as a new virtual drive. (The program supports NRG images, too.)
Maybe you’d like to create an ISO file of your own? Right-click the drive with the image, select “Save disk contents as image file”, and the program will create an ISO image for you.
You don’t have to stop with optical discs, though. If you’ve built up a great portable toolkit on a USB drive, say, then you can create an image of its contents in exactly the same way. Which could work as a backup, or an easy way to share the files with others.
And the program can even create a RAM-based virtual disk. This may help drive-bound programs run much more quickly, for instance. Or you might improve privacy by using a RAM disk to store a program’s activity-related details, like your web history (you’ll know they’ve gone when you next reboot).
There are plenty of options here for advanced users, including an extensive command line interface which means you can automate just about any ImDisk option from your own scripts.
But even if you’re not so technical, the program is still very accessible. ImDisk may display plenty of options when you’re mounting an image, for instance, but the default settings work well, so most of the time you can ignore them all and just click “OK”.
Perhaps most remarkable of all, though, is that the program comes in the form of a 312KB installer, which runs just fine on anything from Windows NT 4.0 (no, really) through to Windows Server 2008, and all the 32 and 64-bit editions in between. ImDisk really is an excellent piece of efficient coding, and if you don’t currently have a good way to work with virtual disks then you should definitely give it a try.