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

Make an ISO File From Any Disc in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista and XP

Screenshot showing BurnAware Free making an ISO image from a software program CD
BurnAware Free.

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

Creating and storing ISO backups of your important software installation discs, and even operating system setup discs, is a smart plan. Complement that with an unlimited online backup service 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.

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, there are several freeware tools available that make creating ISO images a really easy 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.

How to Create an ISO Image File 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.
    1. BurnAware Free works in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and even Windows 2000 and NT. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of those operating systems are supported.
    2. Note: 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 "BurnAware Free" download link.
  2. Install BurnAware Free by executing the burnaware_free_[version].exe file you just downloaded.
    1. Important: During installation, you may see a Sponsored Offer or Install Additional Software screen. Feel free to 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. Once BurnAware Free is open, click or tap on Copy to ISO, located in the Disc Images column.
    1. The Copy to Image tool will appear in addition to the existing BurnAware Free window that's already open.
    2. Tip: 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.
  1. From the drop-down at the top of the window, choose the optical disc drive that you plan on using. If you only have one drive, you'll only see one choice.
    1. Tip: You can only create ISO images from discs that 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.
  2. Click or touch the Browse... button in the middle of the screen.
  3. Navigate to the location that you want to write the ISO image file to, give the soon-to-be-made file a name in the File name text box, and then click or tap on Save.
    1. Note: Optical discs, especially DVDs and BDs, can hold several gigabytes of data and will create ISOs of equal size. Make sure that whatever drive you choose to save the ISO image to has enough room to support it. 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.
    2. Important: 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 directly onto the USB device isn't going to work as you expect. In most cases, like when installing Windows 10 from a flash drive, you have to take some extra steps to make this work. See How to Burn an ISO File to a USB Drive for help.
  1. Insert the CD, DVD, or BD disc that you want to create the ISO image from into the optical drive you chose in Step 5.
    1. Note: 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, you may get a Windows installation screen, etc.). Regardless, close whatever comes up.
  2. Click or touch Copy.
    1. Tip: Do you get a There is no disc in the source drive message? If so, just click or touch OK and then try again in a few seconds. Chances are, the spin-up of the disc in your optical drive hasn't completed so Windows just 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 that the disc is clean and undamaged.
  3. Wait while the ISO image is created from your disc. You can watch the progress by keeping an eye on the Image progress bar or the x of x MB written indicator.
  4. The ISO creation process is complete once you see the Copy process completed successfully message along with the total time it took to finish.
    1. The ISO file will be named and located where you decided in Step 7.
  1. You can now close the Copy to Image window, and also the BurnAware Free window. You can also now remove the disc you were using from your optical drive.

Creating ISO Images in macOS and Linux

On macOS, creating ISO images is possible with included tools. Start at Disk Utility via the File > New > Disk Image from (Select a Device)... menu option to create a CDR 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:

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

Replace /dev/dvd with the path to your optical drive and /path/image with the path and filename of the ISO you're making.

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 it's not working for you.

Some favorites that I've tried over the years include InfraRecorder, ISODisk, ImgBurn, ISO Recorder, CDBurnerXP, and Free DVD to ISO Maker... among others.