What is an ISO image?
An ISO image is a single file that is an exact copy of a CD or DVD. The filename will always end with “.iso”. An ISO image is created by ripping the contents of the disc using a ripper. The ISO can be burned on a disc using just about any CD/DVD buring software. This is not the same as copying the files fromm the disc to a folder.
While, ISO is the most popular format, there are other formats. bin/cue files are the second most popular; bin files hold the data and cue files state the parameters of the bin file, like sector size. cue files are just formated text files.
Recommended ISO software for Windows
ImgBurn creates ISO images from a disc and burns them to a disc. It is quite easy to use. When you run the program, the main menu uses images and words for the 6 different features. Also, when you right click on an ISO file, there will be an option to open the file with ImgBurn.
PowerISO allows you to “mount” an ISO file. It makes use of a virtual CD/DVD drive to do this. Windows and most programs won’t notice a difference between a mounted ISO image and a real disc. The virtual drive will even be in My Computer. Right clicking on an ISO file, you’ll find a PowerISO sub-menu. You can have up to 8 virtual drives with this program.
ISOs & Linux
To burn an ISO, you can use the cdrecord command line tool or k3b, or countless others, if you prefer a GUI. To mount an ISO file, run “mount -o loop /path/to/iso/image.iso /path/to/mount/point”. You’ll have to run mount as root.
Audio CDs can be ripped to ISO files, but you can save a lot of space by ripping them to MP3s. MP3s can be 90% smaller than the same data in an ISO file.
DVD movies usually are encrypted, so ripping them requires special software whhich may or may not be legal where you live.
You should always respect all copyright laws for your location. You have been warned!