Despite the Mac's recent gains in market share, Windows is still the dominant operating system, especially in businesses. That means there may be times when you need to run the Microsoft OS: perhaps there’s an application your company uses that’s only available for Windows, or you’re a web developer and you need to test your sites in a true native Windows web browser. Or maybe you want to play computer games that aren’t available for OS X. Whatever your reason for running Windows, there are a number of ways your Mac can do it for you.
If you need to run just one or two specific Windows apps, you may be able to do so using CrossOver (), which can run such applications without requiring you to actually install Windows. (CrossOver's vendor, CodeWeavers, maintains a list of compatible apps.)
If you need a more flexible, full-fledged Windows installation, you still have several other options. You could use Apple’s own Boot Camp, which lets you install Windows on a separate partition of your hard drive. Or you could install one of three third-party virtualization programs: Parallels Desktop 7 (), VMware Fusion (), or VirtualBox (), each of which lets you run Windows (or another operating system) as if it were just another OS X application.
Of those four options, Boot Camp offers the best performance; your Mac is wholly given over to running Windows. But you have to reboot your system to use Boot Camp, so you can’t use it at the same time as OS X; it's Mac or Windows, but not both. And while VirtualBox is free, setting it up is complicated—downright geeky, at times—and it lacks some bells and whistles you might want. Which leaves Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion as your best alternatives.
So, of those two, how do you decide which one is right for you? In the past, I tried to answer that question by comparing virtualization programs head-to-head, to see how they did on specific tasks. This time, however, that task-based approach didn’t work, largely because (with a couple exceptions that are noted below) the latest versions of Fusion and Parallels Desktop are nearly indistinguishable in performance. So instead of picking one program over the other based on how well it performs a given task, the choice now hinges on some more subjective factors. So this time around, I’ll look at those and try to explain how the two programs differ on each.
Note that, for the most part, I've focused primarily on using these programs to run Windows on your Mac. You can, of course, use them to run other operating systems—including OS X Lion itself—but that’s not the focus here.
#3 Best Files Encryption Software - VeraCrypt. VeraCrypt is a free encryption software for Mac that is used for on-the-fly encryption or OTFE. It can create a virtual encrypted disk within a file or encrypt a partition or the entire storage device. There's a huge variety of programs out there for digital DJs, so here are 10 of the best, from fun entry-level apps to professional mixing software.
As noted, both Parallels Desktop and Fusion perform well when it comes to running Windows 7 on a Mac. Macworld Labs ran both programs through PCWorld’s WorldBench 6 benchmark suite, and the results were close: overall, VMware Fusion beat out Parallels Desktop by a very slight margin (113 to 118, meaning Fusion was 18 percent faster than a theoretical baseline system, Parallels Desktop 13 percent). Parallels Desktop was faster than Fusion in some individual tests, Fusion was faster in others, and in the rest the differences were almost too close to call.
Parallels Desktop 7 vs. VMware Fusion 4
|Parallels Desktop 7||VMWare Fusion 4|
|Adobe Photoshop CS2||377||328|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 8 (Service Pack 3) (DirectX)||340||307|
|Autodesk 3ds Max 8 (Service Pack 3) (rendering)||249||265|
|Microsoft Office 2003 (Service Pack 1)||353||348|
|Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0||175||177|
|Firefox and Windows Media Encoder (multitasking)||274||272|
|Nero 7 Ultra Edition||438||410|
|Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5||195||176|
|WinZip Computing WinZip 10.0||249||234|
WorldBench 6 uses automated test scripts and eight different applications to simulate the real-world use of a system; we run the full suite multiple times then average the results together. For WorldBench scores, higher is better. All other results are in seconds; lower is better. Best result in bold. Tests run on a 2011 17-inch 2.2GHz Quad Core i7 MacBook Pro with 4GB RAM running OS X Lion 10.7.1; both Virtual Machines were configured to use a 200GB drive, 1724MB RAM, and 4 processors
Distill these numbers to their essence, and what you have are two fast, capable ways of running Windows on your Mac.
Advantage: Neither (or both).
Specific types of performance
While the two programs are practically indistinguishable in general usage, there are three specific scenarios in which greater differences emerge.
The first of them: gaming. If you want to run Windows in a virtual machine to play games that you can’t play on a Mac, then you’ll want to use Parallels Desktop 7. In my testing, it handily outperformed Fusion, especially on newer titles. One reason is that Parallels supports up to 1GB of video ram (VRAM), versus only 256MB in Fusion. Parallels Desktop also has better DirectX support; one game I tried looked fine in Parallels using DirectX, but awful in Fusion; switching to OpenGL in Fusion solved that problem, but not all games offer this option.
Overall, Parallels Desktop’s 3D engine seems to work much better for games in Windows than does Fusion’s engine. So if Windows gaming is your thing, Parallels is the one you want to use.
Advantage: Parallels Desktop.
Linux with Accelerated Graphics
The second big difference between the two: Only Parallels includes accelerated 3D graphics in Linux virtual machines, so if you need that, you’ll need to use Parallels.
Advantage: Parallels Desktop.
The third big difference: If you want to explore operating systems other than Windows, Fusion offers a much broader universe of alternatives. Both programs support “virtual appliances”—dowloadable, pre-configured operating systems, often bundled with specific applications. VMware’s appliance library is huge, with over 1,900 appliances available; Parallels Desktop’ library, on the other hand, contains only 98. (Desktop can use VMware’s appliances, but they must first be converted to the Parallels format; it doesn’t really seem fair to give the program full credit for that capabiity, if it’s reliant on the VMware ecosystem.) So you want to explore the wild world of operating systems and applications, Fusion is the way to go.
So much for the three categories with relatively clear winners; now for the more subjective criteria.
Purchase and license
Fusion and Parallels Desktop both normally cost $80, but pricing for both is a moving target. For example, VMware is currently offering Fusion at a promotional price of $50. Meanwhile, Parallels will sell Desktop 7 as an upgrade to owners of older versions for $50; if you’re currently using Fusion, Parallels will sell you Desktop 7 for $30. No matter how much you pay for a virtualization program, remember that you’ll also need to factor in the price of Windows itself.
There’s a big hidden cost in those prices: the software license. Fusion’s license (for non-business users) allows you to install and use it on any Macs that you own or control. Parallels Desktop, on the other hand, requires one license per machine, and it uses activation to check those serial numbers. So if you want to run your virtualization program on more than one Mac, Fusion will cost less—potentially much less.
Advantage: Fusion (for the moment).
Installation and general operation
Installing Fusion 4 is surprisingly simple: You just drag and drop the program to any directory you wish. There’s no installer to run, and you can store the program anywhere. When you first launch Fusion, it asks for your administrative password and activates its extensions. But those extensions aren’t hidden away in some low-level system folder where you’ll never find them. Instead, they remain within the Fusion application bundle and automatically activate on subsequent launches.
More importantly, they’re deactivated when you quit Fusion. In fact, when you quit Fusion, unless you choose to leave the Windows applications menu item in your Mac’s menu bar, absolutely nothing Fusion-related is left running. This setup also makes uninstalling a snap—just drag the app to the trash, and you’re done. Taking a program as complex as Fusion, and making it as easy to install and uninstall as any simple utility, is a major accomplishment.
Parallels, by contrast, is installed via an installer, its extensions are installed in the System folder and are always present, even when Desktop isn’t running. In addition, two background processes continue to run after you quit Parallels. These processes don’t take much RAM or CPU power, but they’re there.
Preferences and virtual machine settings
Both of these programs have lots of settings options; Parallels Desktop has more of them and, consequently, has a more complicated preferences screen. Both of their preferences panels are reasonably well organized, doing a decent job of categorizing the various settings. One thing I don’t like about Parallels is that it automatically enrolls you in the company’s Customer Experience Program, which collects anonymous usage data; you have to opt out by disabling it in the Advanced section of Preferences. Fusion offers a similar program, but you have to opt in, not out.
When it comes to changing the settings for a virtual machine, the two programs take a slightly different approach: Parallels Desktop uses a floating window that’s independent of the virtual machine being configured; that makes it easy to toggle between the settings and the virtual machine, but it’s also easy to lose track of the settings window if you click another window to the foreground.
Fusion, by contrast, dims the virtual machine, and presents a fixed window in the center of the screen, on top of the virtual machine. Its settings window mimics that of System Preferences, while Parallels uses a tabs-and-lists layout. Some users may prefer one over the other, but I find they both work reasonably well.
Advantage: Neither (or both).
Both programs can be run in an “integration” mode, meaning Windows applications aren't bound inside a single Windows window; rather, they appear side-by-side in the OS X graphical user interface with Mac programs. (VMware calls this mode Unity; Parallels calls it Coherence.)
In this mode, both programs seem to treat these windows as though they're regular Mac apps. But there is a subtle but telling difference: Parallels Desktop actually treats the windows of your Windows apps as one, even though they display separately. You can see this if you activate Mission Control in OS X Lion: Regardless of how many Windows applications you’re running, they’ll all be lumped together in one Parallels Desktop entry. This means, among other things, that if you use a window-management utility, it may not work correctly.
Fusion, on the other hand, treats each Windows app like a window from any OS X application: The system treats them as truly separate from one another. If you open Mission Control while you’re using Fusion, each running Windows app gets its own entry.
If you prefer to think of your virtual machine as a single entity, you’ll probably prefer Parallels Desktop’ Coherence mode. But if you’re going to the trouble of using an integrated mode, chances are you want your Windows apps to behave just like your Mac ones. And in that case it makes more sense to treat the windows the way Fusion does.
Programs of this complexity require frequent updates; there’s just so much going on that there’s always going to be another feature to add or another bug to fix. The two companies handle updates differently, however. Parallels Desktop pushes out updates rapidly, so users get the latest features and fixes as quickly as possible. Fusion has a slower update cycle. Both programs have in-app updating now, so that portion of the routine has gotten simpler than it was in the past.
So which update methodology is better, frequent small updates or occasional larger updates? That's really up to you; some people like knowing that they’ve always got the latest bug fixes and features, while others may prefer longer periods between updates. The important thing, though, is that both companies do actively keep their products up to date.
Advantage: Neither (or both).
And the winner is…
So which virtualization solution should you purchase? In my comparison, Fusion comes out ahead (four wins, two losses, and three ties). But you may prioritize these features differently than I do. That’s why I suggest you download each program’s free trial version and see how each handles your particular needs. Both are excellent performers in the Windows arena, so you won’t be disappointed by either program’s speed. Instead, your selection will come down to your feelings about those other, less measurable factors—and for that, nothing beats hands-on experience.
Senior Contributor Rob Griffiths is master of ceremonies at Many Tricks Software.
[Updated 02/14/12 to clarify the number of apps that can be run under CrossOver.]
Updated: June 10, 2019 Home » Freeware and Software Reviews
If you’re using Microsoft Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you do not need to download 3rd party ISO mounting software. Windows 8 and Windows 10 comes with capability to mount ISO files and burn the ISO to a CD or DVD. Below is a simple tutorial on how to mount ISO image files on Windows, while you’re at it, you might find this tutorial useful – 7 Free Tool To Create Bootable Windows 7 & 10 On A USB Drive in creating a bootable ISO image of Windows.
Alternative Article ➤ 13 Free Tools To Create Bootable USB Windows 10 & Linux With ISO Files
- Step 1 – Right click on the ISO file, select ‘Mount’
- Step 2 – A new ‘CD DVD Drive’ will appear in the Device and Drivers list. Double click on the virtual CD DVD driver to access the files.
To unmount the ISO files from the Virtual DVD Drive, right click on the drive and select ‘Eject’. To burn the files to a physical CD, right click on the original file and select ‘Burn This Image’.
For those still using Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7, here are 5 free ISO mounting programs for Microsoft Windows user. They are 100% freeware with no string attached. If you’re looking at creating Bootable USB Ubuntu Linux or Bootable Windows 10, below are 5 of the best ISO mount freeware to mount the ISO files downloaded from Torrent and extract the content, download now!
↓ 01 – Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel Mounts
Re-released in 2013, this free utility software enables users of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 to mount ISO disk image files as virtual CD-ROM drives. This can be highly useful for reading disk images to install software or recover backup files. Notes: This tool is not supported by Microsoft; use at your own risk. Windows 8 users do NOT need this tool. Windows 8 natively supports ISO files. In Windows 8, you can simply open an ISO file and Windows automatically assigns it a drive letter and reads it as a virtual drive.
↓ 02 – Virtual CloneDrive Mounts
Virtual CloneDrive works and behaves just like a physical CD/DVD drive, however it exists only virtually. Image files generated with CloneDVD or CloneCD can be mounted onto a virtual drive from your hard-disk or from a network drive and used in the same manner as inserting them into a normal CD/DVD drive. Probably the best virtual drive software, Virtual CloneDrive allows you to enjoy the freedom of a virtual drive and is completely free. Supports all common image formats such as ISO, BIN, CCD
↓ 03 – WinCDEmu Free Iso Mounter Features: Creates & Mounts
Eos Digital Solution Disc Software For Mac
WinCDEmu is an open-source CD/DVD/BD emulator – a tool that allows you to mount optical disc images by simply clicking on them in Windows Explorer. If you have downloaded an ISO image and want to use it without burning it to a blank disc, WinCDEmu is the easiest way to do it. Features:
- One-click mounting of ISO, CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, IMG images.
- Supports unlimited amount of virtual drives.
- Runs on 32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions from XP to Windows 7.
- Allows creating ISO images through a context menu in Explorer.
- Supports data, DVD-video and BD-video images.
- Does not require rebooting after installation.
Virtual Drive Software
↓ 04 – DAEMON Tools Lite Creates, Modifies, Mounts, Restores & Extracts
Daemon is possibly the Best Iso Mounting Software to mount ISO. Do you need just to create or mount image file of popular format? DAEMON Tools Lite is exactly what you need. Free for home and non-commercial use, this software solution will provide you with the basic functions for operating with virtual devices. Using DAEMON Tools Lite you can create up to 4 virtual devices. Your system will recognize them like physical one, and your work will become much faster.
↓ 05 – ISODisk Mount & Create
ISODisk is a FREE and powerful ISO disk image file tool, allows you to create virtual CD/DVD driver up to 20 drivers, mount an .ISO disk image and access the files on it as if it were burned to CD or DVD. This free program can quickly create ISO image file from CD/DVD-ROM, with ISODisk, you don’t need install any other virtual drive software. Once you map the archive to a virtual drive, you can be able to view the contents in Windows Explorer.
- Mount ISO image files to as an internal virtual CD/DVD device.
- Can mount ISO image on Local Area Network.
- Can create virtual CD/DVD driver up to 20 drivers.
- Quickly create ISO file from CD/DVD-ROM.
↓ 06 – gBurner Virtual Drive Mount & Create
gBurner Virtual Drive is a free utility designed for creating and managing virtual CD / DVD drives. For anyone who deals with CD/DVD-based programs – it is a MUST. gBurner Virtual Drive allows you to use almost all CD/DVD image without burning them onto CD or DVD in order to easily access your favorite games, music, or software programs. It works like a real CD/DVD-ROM: You can run programs, play games, or listen to music from your virtual CD/DVD-ROM.
gBurner Virtual Drive supports all popular CD/DVD image file formats. Following is a list of all supported CD/DVD image file formats: ISO (Standard ISO File), GBI / GBP (gBurner Image Files), DAA (PowerISO Image Files), NRG (Nero Image Files), MDF / MDS (Alcohol Image Files), BIN / CUE (CDRWin Image Files), UIF (MagicISO Image Files), ISZ (UltraISO Image Files), ASHDISC (Ashampoo Image Files), DMG (Apple Mac Image Files), GI (RecordNow Image Files), BWI / B5I (BlindWrite Image Files), IMG (CloneCD Image Files), CDI (DiscJugger Image Files), PDI (InstantCopy Image Files), NCD (NTI CD-Maker Image Files), LCD (CDSpace Image Files), CIF (Easy CD/DVD Creator Image Files), P01 (Gear Image Files), PXI (PlexTools Image Files), C2D (WinOnCD Image Files), FCD (Virtual CD-ROM Image Files), and VCD (Virtual Drive Image Files).
- Create data, audio and video discs. gBurner supports the following disc types: CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-R DL, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-RAM, BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE, BD-RE DL.
- Create multisession discs.
- Make bootable data discs.
- Copy CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.
- Create bootable USB drive.
- Support ISO 9660, Joliet and UDF file systems.
- Support Audio CD-TEXT.
- Support Mp3, Wma, Wav, Flac, Ape and Ogg Audio formats.
- Open, create, edit, extract, convert and burn disc image files. gBurner has automatically detecting engine, so gBurner can automatically analysis almost all disc image files(iso, bin, cue, mdf, mds, img, gbi, daa, uif, cif, nrg, gi, dmg and so on).
- Support unicode file names.
- Optimize file layout to save disc space.
- Support wim, vmdk, vhd and vdi virtual disk image files.
↓ 07 – Free ISO Burner Mount & Create
Free ISO Burner can directly burn your ISO and CD/DVD image file to CD-R,CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW,HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, no need mount any “virtual drives” which emulate physical CDs or DVDs, it write any data directly.
Free ISO Burner hide all complex settings, let this program be very simple and easy to use. Click [Open] button to choice one ISO image file (*.iso), insert a blank CD in your CD-RW drive, then click [Burn] to start the disk burning. Users can select the drivers, set the disk volume, select burn speed and change the burn cache size, during the burning user can click [Abort] to abort the burning progress. Free ISO Burner can support bootable CD image file. User can select [Finalize Disc] in main interface to finalize a disc on which data and music have already been written.
↓ 08 – ISO Workshop Mount & Create
ISO Workshop is a free Windows desktop application specifically designed to facilitate ISO image management and conversion, as well as CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc burning and copying operations. The program has a very intuitive user interface and enables you to make ISO images, extract files from disc images, create disc backups, convert and burn disc images, make exact CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc copies.
- Make standard or bootable ISO, with various file systems
- Burn ISO image or any other disc image to CD, DVD or BD
- Browse and extract files from various disc image formats
- Copy any CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc to ISO or BIN image
- Convert various disc images to ISO or BIN
- Make exact CD, DVD or Blu-ray Disc copies on-the-fly
- Support Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (32 and 64)
↓ 09 – OSFMount Mount Only
OSFMount allows you to mount local disk image files (bit-for-bit copies of a disk partition) in Windows with a drive letter. You can then analyze the disk image file with PassMark OSForensics by using the mounted volume’s drive letter. By default, the image files are mounted as read only so that the original image files are not altered.
↓ 10 – Pismo File Mount Mount Only
Pismo File Mount Audit Package is a Windows application that allows users to mount the contents of ZIP, ISO, Compact ISO, Compact File Set and Private Folder files to the file system as virtual folders. Pismo File Mount Audit Package is available free of charge for personal and business use.
- ZIP reader – Most zip archive files can be mounted as read-only folders to allow access to contents, including the ability to execute contained applications.
- CD/DVD image file reader – DVD and CD images can be mounted in place as a read-only folder to allow access to contents. ISO and CISO image formats are supported.
- Compact File Set reader – CFS files can be mounted in place as read-only folders to allow access to contents, including the ability to execute contained applications.
↓ 11 – TotalMounter Mount & Create
TotalMounter is only free software that allows user to mount virtual CD/DVD burner that is allowing to directly burn data onto an ISO file, not to an optical disk (such as CD or DVD). After mounting virtual burner for the first time, system will recognize it and automatically install all necessary drivers to run it. After this process will finish, you can easily burn such ISO file in any burning software of your choice, including Windows 7 default burning software.
- Provides CD-RW and DVD+RW emulators that allow you to “write” data into an CD/DVD drive, you may also create ISO9660 files by using any CD/DVD burning software.
- Provides a CD/DVD-ROM emulator that mounts image files such as ISO, CDI, BIN, MDS, MDF, IMG, RAW, CCD, NRG in to a virtual CD/DVD-ROM drive.
- Provides a iSCSI Initiator for mounting iStorage Server and other iSCSI Targets.
- Provides a INetDisk client for mount INetDisk Server.
- Mounts and create Image file disk’s (img) and VHD files.
- AES 256-BIT virtual disk encryption.
- Provides Virtual Write technology, so that you can copy files into a read-only drive and do not affect other people using other clients.
- Provides as many as 8 virtual drives.
- Provides simple and banausic management tool, to manage virtual drives.
- Support for x86 and x64 machines.
- No restrictions on disk capacity, total number of hard disk installed, number of CPUs or CPU cores, and the amount of RAM.
↓ 12 – ImDisk Toolkit Mount Only
This tool will let you mount image files of hard drive, cd-rom or floppy, and create one or several ramdisks with various parameters. This all-in-one package includes the ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver, the DiscUtils library that extends the number of supported image file formats, and adds several GUIs and features.
↓ 13 – DVDFab Virtual Drive Iso Mount [ Not Free Anymore ] Mounts & Extracts
DVDFab Virtual Drive is a virtual DVD/Blu-ray emulator. It emulates a maximum of 18 drives and works with DVD/Blu-ray images created by DVDFab and other programs. Supported formats are DVD ISO image file, Blu-ray ISO image file and System Requirement are Windows 8/7/Vista/XP (32-bit/64-bit) X86/X64.
What Is ISO Image Filetype [ Wikipedia ]
What is an .iso file? An ISO image is an archive file of an optical disc, a type of disk image composed of the data contents from every written sector on an optical disc, including the optical disc file system. ISO image files usually have a file extension of .iso. The name ISO is taken from the ISO 9660 file system used with CD-ROM media, but what is known as an ISO image might also contain a UDF (ISO/IEC 13346) file system (commonly used by DVDs and Blu-ray Discs).
ISO images can be created from optical discs by disk imaging software, or from a collection of files by optical disc authoring software, or from a different disk image file by means of conversion. Software distributed on bootable discs is often available for download in ISO image format. And like any other ISO image, it may be written to an optical disc such as CD or DVD.