Daemon Tools remains the most renowned tool for the creation of virtual discs out there. Simply put, if you have an ISO, VHD, FLAC, or any number of disc image files types, you can run them on your PC without having to burn them using a physical disc drive.
But the full-featured version of Daemon Tools doesn’t come free, which isn’t ideal if all you’re looking to do is just some simple image mounting. Also, the Daemon Tools installer tries to foist extra third-party software onto your PC, which is a big no-no for us.
There are several good free alternatives to Daemon Tools, which will let you mount virtual drives to your heart’s content without paying a penny. Here are our favourites.
1. Windows 10
Before getting bogged down with any third-party software, it’s always worth checking to see if Windows already has some kind of integrated tool to help you. And in this case, it does!
Simply go to the image file you want to mount on a virtual drive in Windows Explorer, right-click it, then click Mount. You can do this with both ISO and VHD files.
And that’s pretty much it! A virtual drive will be created in Windows Explorer in the left pane and in This PC. To close the drive, just right-click its icon and click Eject, and to view the files contained therein, just double-click it.
The next best thing to an integrated Daemon Tools alternative is an open-source alternative, and for that reason WinCDEmu is first on our list. Using this you get one-click mounting of ISO, NRG, IMG, CUE, and several other file formats, and an unlimited number of virtual drives running simultaneously,
It gives you a few options to play around with, such as restricting mounting to those with admin rights on your PC, keeping your virtual drives after restarting your PC, and choosing whether you want your drive to be CD, DVD, Blu-Ray or a data disc. Beyond that, however, it’s as simple a mount app as you’re going to get.
Probably the simplest third-party tool in this list, ImgDrive lets you mount ISO, CUE, NRG and a few other formats, as well as mount various audio formats as audio CDs. A nice perk is that you can mount folders as either DVDs or Blu-ray discs, too.
ImgDrive lets you run up to seven virtual drives simultaneously, should you wish, and it’s capable of handling multi-session disc images as well. It’s also totally free and not supported by ads and offers a portable version so you can boot it straight from that flash drive you carry everywhere with you.
4. Virtual CloneDrive
Another no-nonsense option that gives you a little bit more to play with than the built-in Windows 10 method, Virtual CloneDrive lets you mount common formats such as ISO, IMG, DVD, BIN and others as virtual drives (up to 15 at once, for whatever reason you may need that many).
It tracks your history of recently-mounted images so you can re-mount frequently-mounted images nice and quickly, and one of the least necessary bonuses is the ‘Virtual Sheep’ option, which changes the virtual drive icon in Windows Explorer into a sheep icon … just because.
Virtual CloneDrive is free without any ads or other caveats.
These are the best picks for us. They’re simple to use, and all can be accessed from your context menu which makes mounting virtual drives a cinch. Don’t fork out money on Daemon Tools when there are all these free options available!