How to burn disc images (ISO & IMG) in Windows

One useful but relatively overlooked feature of Microsoft's modern operating systems is their ability to burn disc images on CDs and DVDs, without requiring you to install additional third party software. For this task, Windows 7 offers a small tool named Windows Disc Image Burner, while Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 offer this function directly from File Explorer. In this article we will see which types of disc image formats are supported in Windows, and how to burn them to physical discs in Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

What is a disc image and why is it useful?

For those of you not familiar with the term, disc images are digital copies of a disc (CD, DVD or Blu-ray), that keep the same structure and contents. These disc image files can have many formats and file extensions, the most common being IMG and ISO.

They are useful when you need to backup media such as installation discs, data discs, etc. By making a disc image, you can easily copy it over to another disc which can be used in case the original gets damaged. You can also use third-party software, or the File Explorer from Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, to mount the image in a virtual drive. This virtually mounted image would then function exactly the same as a physical disc in your drive.

For more information about mounting disc images, why are they useful and how to mount them, read this article: Simple questions: What is a disc image file (ISO, NRG, BIN)?

What kind of disc image files can I burn?

Modern Windows operating systems can mount and burn the two most common disc image file formats: IMG and ISO disc image files.

What if you need to burn discs with other types of files, like pictures, video, music?

If you have come to this page while trying to find a way to burn pictures, videos, music or other types of data to a disc, this tutorial will not help you. Try these tutorials instead:

How to burn a disc image with File Explorer, in Windows 8.1 and in Windows 10

To burn a ISO image file to a disc in Windows 8.1, right-click or long-press the file in File Explorer and click or tap Burn disc image.

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NOTE: If a third-party application is installed and it’s set to handle the ISO and/or IMG files from your system, you'll have to reassociate File Explorer in order for this to work. This article explains the whole procedure in detail.

You can also use the ribbon interface from File Explorer in order launch the burn process of an image file. Select your disc image file, click or tap the Manage tab from the ribbon and then the Burn button.

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The Windows Disc Image Burner starts and automatically selects the default disc burning drive found on your Windows device. If you want to use another drive, choose it from the Disc burner drop-down list at the top of the window.

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After selecting your drive, you can choose whether or not to verify your disc after burning. For a simple program or video recording, it isn't really worth the time to verify the disc, but if you're burning something like a Windows or a Linux operating system that you intend to install on a computer, verifying that there are no errors could prevent some problems during the installation. Then, click or tap Burn and wait for the process to end.

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After the burning process finishes, the DVD/CD tray automatically opens and you see a confirmation message if the burning process was successful.

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To exit the application, click or tap Close.

Read the next page of this tutorial to learn how to burn disc images in Windows 7 and how to use the Command Prompt or PowerShell for this task.

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About the Author: Codrut Neagu
Codrut is a Senior Editor on Digital Citizen. He's passionate about technology and he is fluent in working with several operating systems, including Windows and Linux. He likes to test security products and he feels like at home when digging through the registry, optimizing things or having fun on Telnet.