I make periodic backups of my data, resulting in large chunks of files. Currently I copy them into different directories on a share on a NAS (plus an external HDD), indicating the date in the directory name.

However, to handle these backups more easily and to protect them against accidential manipulation I would like to put each of them in it's own archive file. However, I want these archive files be mountable (on my local machine), so that I can search and read through them as if they were (shared) directories.

Thus, what is the most common archive format that

  • is not compressed / tolerant against corruption
  • mountable at least on Windows and Ubuntu linux with free tools
  • allows easy searching of the mounted archives
  • can be of arbitrary size (currently about 12 Gigs)

Note: This question is about data corruption but does not answer the more importand part about mounting and searching.

Update: I now use the ISO format as per the suggestion of the accepted answer, combined with using ZIP files for containing parts of the content to archive. However, at least using Ubuntu, there are some limitations that apply, see the comments there.

1 Answer 1


Use standard .ISO format, used for CD/DVD image files. All your 4 requirements are met by the ISO format.

Theres also the advantage that they can be created with quite a lot of programs (across all platforms).

  • For archives with less than around 3 Gigs I have success so far. However, on Ubuntu, the Brasero application repeatedly fails to create my 12 Gig Archive. Is there any limitation of either that application or the ISO format?
    – Marcel
    Feb 15, 2015 at 22:18
  • I have read a bit into the ISO format on wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iso9660) Now I fear that I will get in trouble with deep directory levels and german filenames. Based on experience, does this cause problems?
    – Marcel
    Feb 15, 2015 at 22:39
  • I have not encountered any problems with language support. Problems may appear at the interpreter side, not the ISO itself. That means, if you do you content that has unconventional characters, the system that you read them with will also have to support it.
    – Overmind
    Feb 16, 2015 at 6:46
  • I now have had sucess creating an archive of about 12 Gigs on Ubuntu, using Brasero. However, I need to create a new "Data" project and then add the directories. I can not create very large ISO archives "on-the-fly" from the "compress" menu entry in Nautilus via right-click. I will test, that the content of the archive is exactly as expected, then accept your answer.
    – Marcel
    Feb 16, 2015 at 6:53
  • 1
    Folder comparison may show eventual errors. However it the application that creates the ISO is good, there will be no problems.
    – Overmind
    Feb 18, 2015 at 6:07

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