CDs and DVDs were once the defacto standard for distributing large file collections, like those used for an operating system. But today, they're often provided using ISO files, sometimes called ISO images.
Before you can use an ISO file, you need to mount it, which assigns it a virtual drive letter and lets you treat it like a DVD.
On earlier versions of Windows, third-party software was required to mount and unmount an ISO file, but on Windows 8 and 10, that capability is built in.
Mounting a file is incredibly easy. After downloading the file, locate it on your PC and then just double-click it. File Explorer will automatically mount the file and give it a drive letter.
Once a file is mounted, you can use it like a CD or DVD. You'll be about to browse files within it or run setup programs without having to extract files or create external media.
To unmount the file, find the virtual drive in File Explorer, right-click, and choose Eject.More Windows tips:
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.