How to Install From an ISO Image to a Hard Drive


An ISO image is a copy of a software disk. It's a common method of distributing operating systems such as Ubuntu and Fedora. Using ISO images is different than using other common file formats you may be used to, such as ZIP or RAR. There are a few methods of installing operating systems using an ISO image. One method utilizes virtual machine software. Another requires burning the image to a CD or DVD.

Things You'll Need

  • Virtual Machine Program
  • CD/DVD Burner
  • Writable CD/DVD
  • ISO Burning Program

Virtual Machines

  • Locate a virtual machine program that supports installation to a physical drive, such as VMWare Server or Virtual Box (see Resources). Install the program.

  • Prepare your target hard drive for the installation. Partition the hard drive as necessary. Ensure that your partitions are large enough to hold the operating system and any other data you want to store.

  • Set up your virtual machine using the virtual machine software you chose. Ensure that the installation media is set to the ISO file you want to use, and that the destination disk is set to your desired hard drive.

  • Run the virtual machine with your new settings and proceed through the installation as normal. Ensure that your new installation is bootable by restarting and booting from the hard drive you installed the new operating system on.

Burning ISOs

  • Right-click the ISO file you want to burn to CD or DVD. Click "Write to Disk" if using Windows 7. Locate a free ISO burning program online if using another version of Windows.

  • Burn the ISO image at the lowest speed possible to avoid creating errors within the file system. Ensure that the disk is in your CD/DVD drive, then restart your computer.

  • Make sure your BIOS is set to boot from CD/DVD. Contact your manufacturer if you do not know how to enter the CMOS setup program (BIOS), or look online for instructions for your Brand and model.

  • Proceed through the installation as normal once you have successfully booted from the disk. Test your installation by removing the installation CD/DVD and restarting your computer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always back up your data first.
  • Partitioning and formatting can cause data loss, or the inability to boot your computer from the hard drive.
  • Be sure to burn the image to the disk and not the ISO file itself.

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