One useful but relatively overlooked feature of Microsoft's latest operating systems is the ability to burn disk images on CDs and DVDs without having to install additional software. For this task, Windows 7 offers a small tool named Windows Disc Image Burner which is included in all versions, while Windows 8 simply builds the function into File Explorer. In this article I will share what disk images are, which formats are supported and how to burn disk images using both Windows 7 and Windows 8, as well as the Command Prompt.
What Is a Disk Image & Why Is It Useful?
For those of you not familiar with the term, disk images are digital copies of a disc (CD, DVD or Blu-ray), that keep the same structure and contents. These disk 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 deteriorated. You can also use third-party software, or Windows 8's File Explorer 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, check out our article here: Introducing Windows 8: Mount or Unmount ISO Images in File Explorer.
If you want to know which applications can create disk images, read the following tutorials:
- How to Copy a Disc (CD, DVD or Blu-Ray) in Windows
- How to Make a Backup Copy of a Protected Disc (DVD or Blu-Ray)
What Kind of Image Files Can I Burn?
Currently Windows Disc Image Burner supports only the two most common formats: IMG and ISO disk image files.
Do You Need to Burn Discs with Other Types of Files: Pictures, Video, Music, etc?
If you have arrived to this page while trying to find a way to burn videos, music or data to a disc, this tutorial will not help you. Try these tutorials instead:
- How to Burn CDs and DVDs in Windows Media Player 12 - to learn how to burn music and different types of audio files to a disc.
- How to Burn DVD's with Windows DVD Maker - to learn how to burn pictures, movies and audio to your DVDs, straight from Windows 7, without installing any special software for this task.
- How to Burn Files and Folders to a Disc in Windows Explorer - the guide was created using Windows 7. However, the burning process works almost the same in Windows 8.
How to Burn an Image With Windows Disc Image Burner in Windows 7
First, navigate to the ISO or IMG image file you want to burn, right click on it and select Burn disc image.
NOTE: If you have third party software installed which has file associations with ISO or IMG files, you will find Windows Disc Image Burner in the Open with menu.
The Windows Disc Image Burner application will now open. You can choose which disk burner to use, if you have more than one, in the Disc burner drop-down list.
To double check that the burning process was successful, you can select the option "Verify disc after burning". Insert a disc in your DVD or CD burner, wait for a few seconds and click on Burn.
The application will detect the disc type and, if the disc is rewritable and has content on it, it will show a warning message allowing you to choose between deleting the existing content or not. Once the burning process starts, there is no percentage progress meter. There's only a green progress bar.
After the burning process finishes, the DVD/CD tray will automatically open and you will see a confirmation message if the burning process was successful.
To exit the application, click Close.