An ISO image file is the true byte to byte copy of the contents of a CD or DVD. This is useful as you can download ISO image files from the internet and then burn them on a blank CD/DVD using special programs like ImgBurn and have the duplicated copy of the original disk. This method is frequently used to create bootable installation CD/DVD for the operating systems like Windows or Linux. There are many other types of bootable ISO images available like for the antivirus security solutions or for the disk erasing solutions. But you do not have to burn these ISO images to a blank CD/DVD to be able to boot from them.
You can use the NeoSmart EasyBCD utility for making some changes to the boot menu in the Windows and boot straight from the ISO image file located somewhere on your hard disk. Here is how:
- Download and install EasyBCD on your system. The community edition is free for the personal use and can be downloaded from http://neosmart.net/EasyBCD/.
- Launch EasyBCD and click on the Add New Entry button.
- Select the ISO tab under the Portable/External Media section.
- You can change the Name of the boot entry to anything you like. In my case, I am using the bootable Avira Rescue Disk, so I have changed the name accordingly.
- Click on the folder button next to the Path field and locate the ISO image file.
- Choose a Mode from Run from disk or Run from memory. These modes differ in the ways the ISO image file is loaded – the first mode loads everything from the disk and runs a little slower. The second mode loads everything into memory before booting from the ISO image.
- Finally click on the Add Entry button to create the entry in the boot menu and after this you can restart Windows to try out booting from the ISO image.
NeoSmart EasyBCD allows you to boot from the ISO image files directly without having to create any real physical disks (whether CD/DVD or USB flash disks). However, it is not going to work with the Linux setup disks for some reason.