Surely you had to deal with files in ISO, NRG, IMG or MDS/MDF. This all — disc images. What is a disk image? Why is it needed? How to create a disk image.

A disk image is a virtual copy of a physical disk (floppy disks, hard disks, CDs, DVDs and other types of disks). The disk image was not necessarily obtained from the real disk, but it completely copies the contents and structure of the data that is on the disk.

Originally disk images were used for only data backup. Now they are used to distribute free software (for example, Linux distributions), as storage devices for virtual machines and emulators. System administrators of organizations often use disk images for mass installation of software on a large number of identical computers. To do this, you put the necessary drivers and programs on one computer, you only need to create an image of the disk and install it on the other computers.

The most popular the format of the disk image  This is ISO, and the IMG and DMG formats are also used. There are also a number of proprietary formats associated with specific programs: MDS / MDF (Alcohol 120%, DAEMON Tools), NRG (Nero Burning ROM), VCD (VirtualCD) and others. How to create a disk image in one of these formats?

To create a disk image, you will need special program. Most programs allow not only to create disk images, but also to edit them, write them to physical media, and also mount them into virtual drives. Some of these programs are free, as they say, download and use, part - shareware. The free version of shareware programs is limited in functionality, for example, works only during the trial period or does not allow you to work with images of disks larger than a certain size. To get access to all the functions, you need to pay for the program.

One of the most known programs that allows you to create a disc image, is a UltraISO. It allows you to create, edit, convert, emulate and record images of the optical and hard drives, flash drives and floppy disks. This program works with more than 30 image formats. But it is shareware and until you pay for the full version, you can't work with images larger than 300 MB.

You can also create a disk image using the software DAEMON Tools. This program exists in four versions (Lite, Pro Standard, Pro Advanced, Net). All of them allow you to create and burn disk images, compress images and split them into several files. The Lite version is free for home use, the remaining versions need to be purchased after a 20-day trial period. In principle, for home use, the light version should be enough.

Another popular program for creating disc images Alcohol 120%. Like the previous ones, it is shareware. Alcohol 120% allows you to create images of disks in different formats, create virtual drives and mount disks in them, perform direct copying from disk to disk.

App Nero Burning ROM  will also help you create a disk image. It can be installed as part of the complete package of Nero products, or separately. The program allows you to copy optical disks and create images in the ISO, CUE, IMG and NRG formats (Nero's own format). Like all the programs described above, it belongs to the shareware category.

Is there free alternatives. allows you to create a disk image? Of course, although they do not differ in such a variety of functions. One of these programs — ISO Workshop. It supports popular disk image formats and helps you to make backup data, create disc copies, convert images in BIN and ISO formats and burn them to optical media.

Also create disk images allow such free utilities like Free Create-Burn ISO Image Gizmo-Drive, Folder2Iso, ImageUSB etc. Not all of them have a complete range of functions. For example, ImageUSB  creates only images flash drive, andFolder2Iso  creates only images from folders. Therefore, such programs should be used in conjunction with others, complementing the missing functions.

As you can see, there isa lot of programs that will help you to create a disk image. the choice is yours.