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by Ray DeCosta

Q. Every once in a while I run into the term "ISO files." What are they all about?

A. Well, here's a very simplified answer to that question. You may someday really need to know what ISO files are and how to use them to install a program that you have downloaded.

ISO files are used to distribute some forms of downloadable software and they are the most effective way of accomplishing this task. On your typical software CD there may be many different files - 100 to 200 are not at all uncommon. Just imagine trying to download all these separate files as well as keeping track of which folders they belong in! And if only one of them gets misplaced, your software won't install or work properly. Instead of downloading all those individual files, the software is sent to you as just one big ISO file. That's much simpler, isn't it?

This ISO file represents the entire original CD structure (files and folders) and perhaps their actual location on the CD right down to the sector level. The ISO file is actually just an IMAGE (or representation) of the original CD. With the proper software, you can recreate the original disc with all of its files and folders in their proper places. Many common CD burning programs like Nero and Roxio will allow you to simply click on an ISO file and they will burn you a CD which is an exact duplicate of the original CD!

Published: Courier 3/15/09 - Page 4C