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I've used ISOs when ripping my CDs just to keep the integrity of the CD, but the only problem is that if I ever needed to edit a file inside, I would wind up unpacking the WHOLE iso, adding/deleting/modifying that one file, that have to repack the WHOLE thing. At first I was kinda doing this because I thought that isos were slightly compressed, but after further examination, it seems that i couldn't have been further from the truth.

Are there any advantages to using an ISO file instead of folder (speed, space, etc) or vise versa?

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If you're unpacking the whole ISO then you're doing it wrong. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 12 '11 at 6:04
    
what program do you use for ISO editing? So far all the ones I have used either can't edit isos (can only unpack/pack them) or force you to buy the product in order to edit files larger than xxxMB. –  Sean Oct 12 '11 at 6:07
    
I use ISO Master, but I run Linux so... –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Oct 12 '11 at 6:08
    
ahhh... I run windows, there lies the problem... i really need to make the switch to linux, but I've tried it and it just doesn't seem like it's for me. –  Sean Oct 12 '11 at 6:10
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3 Answers

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Just a few points:

  • Iso-files are not ment to be edited. That's the reason you need to repack.

  • You can only have one - integrity of your backup or the ability of editing the files inside.

  • To quickly access the files in your iso there are many tools that will mount them as virtual drives - also for windows like daemon-tools, there's even one from microsoft, but I can't remember it's name.

  • One advantage of Iso is that many older programs require to be installed from CD/DVD. Or if it requires to read data from CD/DVD - like many games. Using such a virtual drive you can "fool" your system to work as if the cd was inserted. Plus some additional advantages - such as you can have several such drives at once, it's much faster than the typical optical drive and you don't need a builtin drive on your computer.

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The advantage of an iso rip is, in theory its identical to the original. Its probably rather inefficient, since the native format of most media isn't very optimised for size.

With Audio CDs, cue+flac is probably better (the cue files store information that won't be in the audio file, like offsets). With video, any decent video format would do.

Considering you edit it, there's no advantage to isos there. I'd say use folders, and zip them if you want an archive, and save yourself the hassle.

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Using ISO image adds advantage of protection of files from virus activity inside your system. Whenever your system gets affected with the virus then in most cases you may face data loss. The data stored inside folders get affected. But data stored in ISO format does not get affected.

Your Data become safe from most virus activity by storing it in ISO format.

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ISOs are files, and are not immune to damage from viruses. Inversely, if an ISO file is damaged by a virus, you may very well lose all the data in the image, but this all depends on what the virus does. There is NO CONNECTION between virus safety and ISO formatting unless it's written to ROM media. –  SplinterReality Oct 12 '11 at 8:55
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I disagree. Any file on a hard disk most certainly can be written to unless access to the file is prevented in some manner (inadequate permissions, read-only flag enforced by the OS which cannot be overridden in software, etc) Your statement above is dangerously inaccurate and could lead some poor person to think they are better protected than they are. –  SplinterReality Oct 12 '11 at 9:22
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How about this as a thought experiment: ISOs are files right? What prevents me from overwriting it with another ISO file of the same name, and different content? (say, a virus infected version of the previous content?) There is NOTHING PREVENTING THAT, and that's my point. You are wrong, and I expect a coffee now. –  SplinterReality Oct 12 '11 at 9:27
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@Untraceable Your point is simply that opening the ISO file when it's password protected, and gaining access to the content is impossible without the password. I understand this point, but my point is that the ISO can simply be overwritten, with, or without the password, and so your point about data safety, and "read-only" isn't accurate. The content of the ISO may not be re-writable without the password, but the ISO itself most certainly can be overwritten. Lastly, if I can read the original content, I most certainly can engineer a replacement ISO with modified content. –  SplinterReality Oct 12 '11 at 9:37
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I haven't looked into the specifics of password protected ISOs, but, virus writers aren't generally too concerned about the original content. That said, with an encrypted ZIP file, you can still read the file descriptors, just not the file data itself. If the password protected ISO allows that, then it's trivial to engineer an identical "looking" ISO that will infect the system as soon as it's opened. Virus Wins, user loses their data. ISO != Write Protection –  SplinterReality Oct 12 '11 at 9:46
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