What Is An ISO File Or A .ISO File?

Lossless from the good old analog days.

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ISO files are duplicates of the original without any compression. The primary purpose is to preserve everything from the original disk.

ISO is an acronym for International Organization for Standardization. The computer disks or ISO files that we use are usually ISO-9660. It was an optical media standard designed for CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks.

However, the standard requires a file to be an exact copy of the original file. There’s no compression or data loss involved. Therefore ISO is one of the most popular formats still in use today.

For instance, the DMG format you download for Mac stands for Disk Images, which improves the original ISO-9660 standard. Another example is that you usually get Linux distributions as ISO files.

Who created the ISO files?

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ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. The High Sierra Group created ISO 9660 in 1985.

Big tech companies including Apple, Microsoft, and Sony gathered at the High Sierra Hotel in Lake Tahoe, California. This meeting aimed to create an industry-wide file structure.

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The group’s submission was published by ECMA International, an organization working with ISO. This was later approved in 1988, becoming ISO 9660 format as we know it today.

Why do we use ISO files?

ISO files have come a long way from CDs and DVDs. This format was a common way of creating a lossless copy of almost anything back in the day.

To date, this is one of the primary reasons it exists. They’re industry-standard storage formats that preserve a file as-it-is.

How do I open an ISO file?

You can use programs like WinZip to open ISO files on your Windows or Mac machines. Alternatively, you can directly mount an ISO file on Windows and Mac computers.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Manik Berry

Manik Berry

With a Master’s degree in journalism, Manik writes about big tech and has a keen eye for political-tech news. In his free time, he’s browsing the Kindle store for new stuff read. Manik also adores his motorcycle and is looking for new routes on weekends. He likes tea and cat memes. You can reach him at [email protected]

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