How to Create an ISO Image File From a DVD, BD, or CD

Make an ISO file from any disc in Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP

What to Know

  • Windows doesn't have a built-in way to create an ISO from a DVD, but you can use a free tool.
  • If you want to create an ISO from a DVD, you must have a DVD drive you can use the DVD in.
  • ISO files, like the discs they are created from, can take up large amounts of storage space on your hard drive.

Creating an ISO file from a DVD or any disc is easy with the right free tool and is a fantastic way to back up DVDs, BDs, or CDs to your hard drive.

Creating and storing ISO backups of your essential software installation discs and even operating system setup discs is a smart plan. Complement that with one of the best unlimited online backup services, and you have a near bulletproof disc backup strategy.

ISO images are great because they're self-contained, perfect representations of the data on a disc. Being single files, they're easier to store and organize than outright copies of the folders and files on a disc would be.

Third-Party Tool Required for Windows

Windows doesn't have a built-in way of creating ISO image files, so you'll need to download a program to do it for you. Fortunately, several freeware tools are available that make creating ISO images a straightforward task.

Time Required: Creating an ISO image file from a DVD, CD, or BD disc is easy but could take anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on the size of the disc and the speed of your computer.

These directions are for Windows, macOS, and Linux users. There's a separate section for each tutorial.

Make an ISO From a DVD, BD, or CD Disc

  1. Download BurnAware Free, a completely free program that, among other tasks, can create an ISO image from all types of CD, DVD, and BD discs.

    Download page for BurnAware Free

    BurnAware Free works in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of those operating systems are supported.

    There are also "Premium" and "Professional" versions of BurnAware that are not free. However, the "Free" version is fully capable of creating ISO images from your discs, which is the aim of this tutorial. Just make sure you choose the download link from the BurnAware Free area of their website.

    If you've used BurnAware Free before and don't like it or it didn't work, there are alternative ways to make an ISO from a disc. See some other software suggestions at the bottom of this page.

  2. Install BurnAware Free by executing the burnaware_free_[version].exe file you just downloaded.

    During or after installation, you may see one or more Optional Offer or Install Additional Software screens. Feel free to decline or deselect any of those options and continue.

  3. Run BurnAware Free, either from the shortcut created on the Desktop or automatically via the last step in the installation.

  4. Select Copy to ISO from the Disc Images column.

    Copy to ISO option in BurnAware Free window

    The Copy to Image tool will appear in addition to the existing BurnAware Free window.

    You might have seen a Make ISO icon below the Copy to ISO one, but you don't want to choose that for this particular task. The Make ISO tool is for creating an ISO image not from a disc but from a collection of files you select, like from your hard drive or another source.

  5. Choose the optical disc drive you plan on using from the drop-down at the top of the window. If you only have one drive, you'll only see one choice.

    The BurnAware Free chooser for optical drives in Windows 10

    You can only create ISO images from discs your optical drive supports. For example, if you only have a DVD drive, you won't be able to make ISO images from BD discs because your drive won't be able to read the data from them.

  6. Select Browse.

  7. Navigate to the location you want to write the ISO image file to, and give the soon-to-be-made file a name in the File name text box.

    File name field for burning an ISO in BurnAware Free

    Optical discs, especially DVDs and BDs, can hold several gigabytes of data and will create ISOs of equal size. Make sure there's enough room on the drive you choose to save the ISO image to. Your primary hard drive likely has plenty of free space, so choosing a convenient location there, like your Desktop, as the location to create the ISO image is probably fine.

    If your ultimate plan is to get the data from a disc onto a flash drive so you can boot from it, please know that simply creating an ISO file onto a USB device isn't going to work as you expect. In most cases, like installing Windows from a flash drive, you have to take extra steps to make this work.

  8. Choose Save.

  9. Insert into the optical drive you chose in Step 5 the CD, DVD, or BD disc from which you want to create the ISO image.

    Depending on how AutoRun is configured in Windows on your computer, the disc you just inserted may start (e.g., the movie may start playing, or you may get a Windows installation screen). Regardless, close whatever comes up.

  10. Select Copy.

    Copy button in BurnAware Free ISO burning software for Windows 10

    Do you get a There is no disc in the source drive message? If so, choose OK and then try again in a few seconds. The spin-up of the disc in your optical drive might not have been completed, so Windows doesn't see it yet. If you can't get this message to go away, make sure you're using the right optical drive, and the disc is clean and undamaged.

  11. Wait while the ISO image is created from your disc. You can see the progress by watching the Image progress bar or the x of x MB written indicator.

    Image burning process in BurnAware Free for Windows 10
  12. The ISO creation process is complete once you see the Copy process completed successfully message along with the time BurnAware finished ripping the disc.

The ISO file will be named and located where you decided in Step 7.

You can now close the Copy to Image window and the BurnAware Free window. You can also now remove the disc you were using from your optical drive.

Create ISO Images in macOS and Linux

Making an ISO in macOS is possible with included tools.

  1. Open Disk Utility. You can do this via Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

  2. Go to File New Image Image from [device name].

    Screenshot of New Image menu item in Disk Utility app in macOS
  3. Name the new file and pick where to save it.

    There are also options to change format and encryption settings.

    Screenshot of Disk Utility window highlighting the Save As: field
  4. Choose Save to make the image file.

  5. When finished, select Done.

    Screenshot of Disk Utility Done button after creating a .dmg file

Once you have the CDR image, you can convert it to ISO via this terminal command:

hdiutil convert /path/originalimage.cdr -format UDTO -o /path/convertedimage.iso

To convert the ISO to DMG, execute this from the terminal on your Mac:

hdiutil convert /path/originalimage.iso -format UDRW -o /path/convertedimage.dmg

In either case, replace /path/originalimage with the path and filename of your CDR or ISO file, and /path/convertedimage with the path and filename of the ISO or DMG file you want to create.

On Linux, open up a terminal window and execute the following, replacing /dev/dvd with the path to your optical drive and /path/image with the path and filename of the ISO you're making:

sudo dd if=/dev/dvd of=/path/image.iso

If you'd prefer to use software to create an ISO image instead of command line tools, try Roxio Toast (Mac) or Brasero (Linux).

Other Windows ISO Creation Tools

While you won't be able to follow our tutorial above exactly, there are several other free ISO creation tools available if you don't like BurnAware Free or if it's not working for you.

Some favorites we've tried over the years include InfraRecorder, ISODisk, ImgBurn, and CDBurnerXP.

  • How do I install Windows from an ISO DVD?

    To install Windows from an ISO, just open the ISO file, or use the Windows Advanced Boot Options. If that's not an option, follow the steps for booting from a USB device and choose the disk drive instead.

  • How do I burn an ISO file to a DVD?

    To burn an ISO file to a DVD, put a blank disc in the drive, right-click or tap and hold the ISO file, then choose Burn disc image. Pick the correct burner from the Disc burner drop-down menu (typically, the "D:" drive), then select Burn.

  • How many GB is the Windows ISO?

    The ISO file for Windows varies with each update, but it's typically about 5-5.5GB.

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