ISO Instructions

What is an ISO file?

An ISO file, often called an ISO image, is an electronic copy of an entire CD or DVD. The entire contents of a disc can be perfectly represented in a single ISO file.

The most important feature of an ISO image is that it can be easily rendered or burned to a DVD or CD by using media authoring or disc burning software. It can also be opened using archival applications such as 7-Zip file manager. ISO burning is now typically a native feature of operating systems. Windows XP and Vista require additional software to handle ISO files, however.

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How do I burn an installation disk from an ISO file using Windows 10?

Windows 10 can burn an ISO image without any additional software.

  • Download the ISO file to your computer
  • Browse to it and right-click it
  • Select "Burn Disc Image" 
  • Insert a blank disc into your drive
  • Click Burn 

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How do I burn an installation disk from an ISO file using ImgBurn? (Windows)

ImgBurn is a free burning application that can be used to burn DVDs from ISO images.

  1. If you do not already have ImgBurn installed, click here to download it and follow the prompts to install it.
  2. Download the .ISO file
  3. After the file is downloaded, browse to it on your computer, right-click it, and select "Burn using ImgBurn"
  4. Put a blank disc in your CD/DVD drive.
  5. If you have multiple drives, select the appropriate drive from the drop-down menu under Destination
  6. Go to File-> write or click the image in the bottom left corner to burn the image to disk.

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How do I use ISO files on a Mac?

The Mac operating system can handle ISOs in a similar manner in which it handles other compressed and imaged software (.zip, .dmg, etc.), and in most cases you can just double-click an ISO file and install directly from it. In some cases, such as downloaded bootable ISO files for the Windows operating system, or cases in which you are downloading installation media images for use on another computer, you will need to burn a DVD or CD.

Instructions for burning an installation disk from an ISO file on a Mac:

Newer versions of OS X (10.11+)

  1. Insert a blank disc
  2. Open the image you want to burn in the finder
  3. From the file menu, select burn from disc

Older versions of OS X:

  1. Insert a blank disc.
  2. Start Disk Utility (in Finder, click on Go > Utilities > Disk Utility
  3. In Disk Utlity, select File > Open Disk Image and locate where the ISO was saved and select it
  4. In the list of volumes, you will now see an item representing the ISO file. Select it.
  5. Click the Burn button and follow the instructions.

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What type of media should I use?

  • Use a CD for files up to 700 megabytes
  • Use a regular DVD for files up to 4.7 gigabytes
  • Use a dual-layer DVD for files up to 8.5 gigabytes (DL DVD)
  • Use a Blu-ray disc for anything larger

OIT does not distribute any images that can't fit on a dual-layer DVD.  Not all drives are capable of writing all types of media.

Blank media can be purchased at the Duke Technology Center.

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How do I install from an ISO file without burning a disc? (Windows)

ISO files are similar to .zip files in that they contain many separate files within. In some cases, the files can be extracted using archiving software such as 7-zip or WinRAR and then used to install software.

This can't be done with

  • Bootable ISO files, such as those used to install operating systems like Windows. 
  • Software requiring multiple disks for installation, such as SAS*.

If you do not already have archiving software such as WinRAR, 7-zip, or WinZip, you'll need to download some. 7-zip is a free utility that can perform this task.  Then, after you have downloaded the ISO, browse to it on your computer, right-click it, and select the option to extract files. Once the files are extracted, you will see the contents of the ISO file in a folder, and you can click setup.exe or its equivalent to install the software.

* With software requiring multiple discs to install, like SAS, when the installer asks you to insert the next disc, you can instead browse to the folder with the contents of the extracted ISO for that disc and continue the installation.

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I need to burn installation media but do not have a burner.

You will need to purchase a capable drive or use someone else's. In many cases, an external disc burner can be hooked up to a computer via a USB port and then used to burn media.

The OIT Service Desk at the Link in Perkins Library has this type of device, but they do not provide blank media.

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If you can't find the answer to your question, please call the OIT Service Desk at (919) 684-2200 or e-mail

Article number: KB0030189

Valid to: September 11, 2024