Sometimes I love my job. Most often it’s when I, or my editor in
this case, find a freeware gem like WinCDEmu. There are plenty of
worthy optical disc emulators out there–Daemon Tools, AnyDVD,
etc.– and while they may offer features or emulation modes (such
as mounting copy-protected discs) that WinCDEmu does not, they’re
not nearly as easy to use.
After installing WinCDEmu, you simply double-click any .iso,
.cue, .raw, or img image file and it mounts (i.e., appears as a
drive letter under Windows). At that point, the CD/DVD will autorun
if Windows is set to do so–or you can browse it and extract files.
Right-click on the resultant drive letter, select Eject and the
disc and drive letter disappear. There’s no system tray applet, nor
even a Start Menu program to configure the app. That’s because the
program is meant to function as an integral part of Windows, and it
does–quite well. There is an Add/Remove programs entry so in case
it causes trouble (it didn’t for me) you can ditch it.
As I said, WinCDEmu worked perfectly for me with all the image
types listed above, including those for DVDs. It seemingly invoked
the Windows new hardware wizard each time a new image type was
mounted, but subsequent mounts of an image type did not. If I have
any complaint at all about WinCDEmu, it’s that I could find no way
to make the mounted discs persistent through a reboot. You’ll have
to re-open the images each time you run Windows.
Persistence through reboots is rarely a useful feature, and I’m
not losing any sleep over WinCDEmu’s lack of it. As a matter of
fact, WinCDEmu has received the highest form of praise I can dole
out–it’s made the leap from my VMs and test bed onto my main
–Jon L. Jacobi