If you’ve ever wished you could have the functionality of a DVD or CD drive, even though you don’t have a physical slot on your WIndows machine, a virtual drive could be what you need. When you have video, audio, or data in the form of an image file, simply clicking will mount it in a virtual drive, allowing you to enjoy (or use) the info as if you had inserted a disc into a physical drive. It’s a very simple approach to the problem, but is it enough?
No-frills drive emulator for Windows
Play CD and DVD files simply and easily
Virtual Clonedrive is likely to be one of the simplest programs you install, perhaps ever, and certainly this year. This software allows you to access the contents of ISO files and disk images without actually having the CD or even a CD drive. The installation process is so simple, it’s practically imperceptible—double click on the downloaded file and the box that appears, which looks like the first step in a set-up process, is actually the program itself. This takes mere seconds.
Visually, the program is very underwhelming, but it’s not aiming to be anything more impressive. It is a basic tool and presents itself as such, and there’s not much more you can ask of it.
The final installed interface the same as the window that first appears when you click—there’s almost nothing else to Virtual Clonedrive. Here you’ll be able to choose the program language (a basic selection of the major world languages is available), and select a few options relating to the drives you’ll create, including how many drives you create at one time (up to 15), if you want to unmount the last image upon mounting the next one, and whether or not you want a buffered I/O, which makes the process more efficient.
To actually use Virtual Clonedrive, you’ll need to interact with an image file or by mounting a drive and then accessing it via File Explorer. Most probably, you’ll download or load an image file, and Virtual Clonedrive will give you the option to open it in a virtual drive when you right click the file itself. There’s really not much more than that. It’s entirely free but pretty small, which means that the only way of getting support is by emailing the developers. That said, Virtual Clonedrive is so simple, it’s unlikely you’ll need much help.
Where can you run this program?
Virtual CloneDrive runs on computers running Windows 2000 / XP / XP64 / VISTA / VISTA64 / Win7 / Win7-64 / Win8 / Win8-64 / Win10. You’ll also need admin rights.
Is there a better alternative?
Other virtual drive emulators also allow you to burn ISOs to CD, so if you want an all-in-one creation and burning solution, programs like WinCDEmu are a better bet. Even so, Windows will happily do your burning for you, so you don’t need this extra functionality. If Virtual CloneDrive’s creation focus works for you, it still stands tall.
When you review software for a living, it’s nice to occasionally find a program that’s so simple, you know it inside out in seconds. Virtual CloneDrive is one of these programs—it’s beautifully minimal, easy to use, and works exactly as expected. It’s even free.
Previously, the lack of a disk burning feature might have been a downside, but since you can burn ISOs to disk as a regular WIndows function these days, it really doesn’t matter any more. Some users might want built-in burning functionality and, if so, they’ll need to look elsewhere, but for the rest of us, Virtual CloneDrive is simply perfect.
Should you download it?
Yes, Virtual CloneDrive is the perfect app. As long as you’re happy to keep your ISO needs simple (and most people are), there’s no reason to look anywhere else.