It is not difficult to work with ISO files. This article explains what you need to do. The article also helps you decide whether you need additional software or memory devices and provides links to lists of free software to help you manage them.
Flash Memory vs DVD
If you are installing your Microsoft software donations on several computers, you need to transfer the installation files between computers:
- Flash memory devices such as USB flash drives and SD, miniSD or microSD flash cards are good and relatively inexpensive ways to move the files. Each computer must have a port that works with your device.
- If you use DVDs, the drive on the computer creating the DVD must be a DVD writer and each installation computer must have a DVD drive.
Overview of Installation Choices
An ISO installation file is a collection of all the individual files and folders that would be on an installation DVD, merged into a single file. You have three main choices for making these files and folders accessible:
- Extract the installation files to a folder
- Mount the ISO file as a virtual device
- Write the installation files to DVD
Note: There are special requirements for installing Get Genuine Windows Full PC Operating Systems and for a clean installation of a Windows upgrade operating system. See Clean Microsoft Windows Installations with ISO Files for details.
Installation Choice: Create Installation Discs
If you are installing software on multiple machines and have access to at least one computer with a DVD writer, creating installation discs might be the best option for you. Most Microsoft applications do not fit on a CD and require a DVD.
If you have a computer with a DVD writer (a DVD "burner") and Windows 7 or later you can simply double-click the ISO file you downloaded and follow the steps in the Image Burner Wizard. Read more about this process.
After you burn the ISO file to DVD, just insert the DVD to start the setup.
Installation Choice: Mount the ISO as a Virtual Device
If you are just installing the software on one machine or don't have access to a DVD writer, you can "mount" the ISO file as a virtual device. A virtual device created by mounting an ISO file is known as a virtual drive or virtual disk.
Note that you cannot use this method for installing an operating system, only for installing applications like Office.
When you mount an ISO file as a virtual drive, it looks like a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray disc drive in Windows Explorer or the Computer folder. The contents of the drive are the files and folders that make up the ISO file.
If you have Windows 8 or later, you do not need any additional software to mount an ISO file as a virtual drive. You can simply right-click the ISO file to open the context menu and select Mount. Then, start the installation by clicking the file called setup or setup.exe.
If you do not have Windows 8 or later, you need to download additional software before you can mount an ISO file. Here are some mounting tools you can use that are either free or have free versions available:
- Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel.
- Daemon Tools
- Virtual Clone Drive
- Pismo File Mount Audit Package
Installation Choice: Extract the Installation Files to Your Hard Drive
If you need another installation option that does not require a DVD writer, you can extract the installation files to your hard drive using file compression software.
After you extract the files to a new or empty folder, the folder will contain the same files that would be on an installation disc for this product. You can open the folder in Windows Explorer and double click the file called setup or setup.exe to start the installation.
Many applications that manage with ZIP files will work with ISO files, so you may already have such an application available. Your application might use the word decompress rather than extract or unzip, but the result is the same.
You need additional software to extract an ISO file. Here are some file compression applications you can use that are either free of have free versions available:
Note: Although file compression is the common term for this type of software, ISO are files created without compression and so take up about the same amount of disc space after they are extracted.
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