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ISO files are often used to distribute images of CD and DVD data discs. I'll walk through how to burn ISO files to optical media using ImgBurn.
Can you show me how to burn ISO files? I downloaded this game and it arrived as an .ISO file. Windows keeps saying that it doesn't know how to open it. Someone told me that I need to burn it to a disc. How do I do that?
ISO files are very popular ways to distribute large packages of files that would normally appear on a CD or DVD. The reason is simple: an ISO file is typically a bit-for-bit image of a CD or DVD.
There are several ways to get at the contents of an ISO file. Burning the ISO's contents to an actual disc is the most common.
ISO files are typically exact copies of the data that would otherwise be placed onto a CD or DVD. There's no compression performed, so an ISO file that contains the contents of a 640-megabyte CD would itself be 640 megabytes in size.
Normally, when we write data discs (CD, DVD, or Blu-ray), we might take a few files and drag and drop them into some burning software - or even use Windows itself. The software then creates the file system and lays out the files on the disk.
That doesn't work when burning an ISO file. An ISO file can be thought of as containing a data disc, with files and file system already laid out.
You need to use a different technique to burn an ISO file to disc.
While your computer may have come with burning software, or perhaps trial versions of burning software, I actually delete or ignore all of those and use ImgBurn instead.
ImgBurn is free burning software that handles all of the features that you'd need for data, ISO, and even audio disks easily and efficiently.
Download ImgBurn and install it.
Caution: My one gripe with ImgBurn is its site, which is full of advertisements and so-called "recommended" links that are nothing more than advertisements for products that, in my opinion, you don't need.
Click on the download link currently in the upper left of the ImgBurn home page to download ImgBurn:
Ignore the ads and other misleading links on the resulting page and choose any of the Mirror links to get ImgBurn.
Run ImgBurn to get its EZ-Mode Picker:
Click on Write image file to disc:
Click on the Select File button:
This opens a file selection dialog box. Select the ISO file that you wish to burn to disc.
Here you can see I've selected a CD image of a recent Ubuntu Linux release.
Click Open to select the file, which returns you to ImgBurn screen with the file selected:
You can see that the status line at the bottom indicates that ImgBurn has determined that there is no blank disc in the CDR drive. Insert a blank writable disc to proceed. It'll typically take a few seconds to recognize that the media is there. At this point, the status changes to "Ready", and the action button is enabled:
Click the button:
At this point, ImgBurn begins its work:
Once ImgBurn completes, you have your disc.
What happens next depends on what you have.
You can open Windows Explorer and examine the contents of the disk or copy individual files off, if you like.
If it's a product disk, perhaps there'll be a Setup.exe or similar program in the root. You might run that to install the product.
If it's an operating system distribution, as I've shown in the example, you might close down Windows and reboot from the disc that you've just created to install or try out the operating system on it.
As I said, what happens next depends entirely on exactly what it is you've just burned to a disc.