If you’re the type of person who often downloads large files online, you’ve probably come across files with an extension of .ISO. ISO files are probably the most popular optical disc file format, literally an “image” of a CD or DVD disc. When one user wants to exchange an entire CD with another, for example, one will create an ISO image file of the disc’s contents and then pass it along to the other who will need to burn that ISO image to a disc. Once the ISO file is burned to disc, it is literally an exact replica of the original.
One of the most common uses of ISO files in the public domain is as a means of distributing Linux distributions to users. For example, let’s say that you want to download and install Ubuntu Linux. The Ubuntu site provides the operating system as an ISO image. After downloading and burning the ISO to disc, it’s like having an original copy of the Ubuntu installation disc in hand. ISO files are also commonly used to distribute large files or images of discs via means like Torrents.
Unfortunately, Windows XP lacks built-in support for burning ISO files. All is not lost, however. Most of the CD burning utilities included with PCs – including limited versions – include support for burning ISO images to disc. In Nero Express, for example, the option is called Burn Image to Disc. When selected, you supply the location of the downloaded ISO file and then click the appropriate options to burn the disc. If your PC lacks a third-party CD writing utility, then I would suggest downloading CDBurnerXP Pro, a free program that includes a variety of advanced burning options for both CDs and DVDs, including the ability to both burn and create ISO files. You can find this handy tool at www.cdburnerxp.se.