With UltraISO you can edit the contents of an .ISO file (basically a digital representation of your CDs and DVDs) in order to add, remove, edit or replace files. The resultant image file can be mounted on a virtual drive, it can be burnt to an actual disc using your third-party software such as Nero Burning ROM which UltraISO integrates into itself, you can compress it and convert it to another disc image format, and so on. The program is the absolute pinnacle of disc image management and if you are working with these kinds of files on a regular basis UltraISO is essential.
~ [ Variety of Features ] ~
The main features of the software are listed below, and explanations are provided:
[Edit Disc Images]: if you create an image of your discs, or download one from the internet, you are generally restricted in how you can manipulate the data held within them just as much as you are with a physical CD or DVD. With UltraISO you can open and edit the contents in any way you choose, allowing you to completely recreate the structure and file content of the image, or to add updated versions of certain files.
[Extract Image]: you can unpack the data on a disc image and have it on your hard drive, just as you would extract the contents of a .ZIP file. You can extract individual files, selections of files or the entire contents of the image.
[Create Image From Hard Drive]: you can create a new image from scratch, and you can add files from your PC to the new image at will. When you've built the image you want to build you can save it as .ISO, .BIN & .CUE or in most other common disc image formats. The program offers a visual cue as to how much data the image file will contain, which is useful for keeping you under the filesize limits of the medium you plan to burn the image to.
[Create Image From Disc]: you can insert your desired CD or DVD and use UltraISO to make a digital copy of it in the form of a disc image. The image is essentially your actual disc but represented digitally; it behaves exactly like a normal disc when mounted on a virtual drive. Again, most common image formats are supported. Any bootable data on the disc is maintained.
[Extract Boot Image]: if you insert a bootable disc (i.e. one that your PC will run before your operating system if you have set your PC to check for CDs/DVDs first) you can extract the compact boot image from it, and you can do the same with disc images. You can also add and edit these files.
[Convert Image Formats]: almost every known disc image format is supported, and converting between them is a fairly straight-forward affair with UltraISO. It supports industry standards/conventions, such as Joliet ISO 9660 levels 1, 2 and 3.
When an .ISO image is created or edited the final product can be compressed and optimised, saving disc space.
[Shell Integration]: the right-click menu which pops up upon right-clicking a disc image on your hard drive will have options allowing it to be opened or manipulated using UltraISO. If you have set the program's options to make use of a third-party virtual drive application, such as Alcohol 120% or DAEMON Tools, you can mount images automatically by double-clicking them. All of this is designed to save time and to make the software more convenient. Likewise, you can burn images if you have the requisite third-party software installed (e.g. Nero or Alcohol).
UltraISO's feature set contains everything you could possibly need to manage your disc images. The only downside to the software I have found is that its virtual drive and burning functions depend on third-party software you already have installed, but the lack of native burning and virtual drive capabilities is probably what keeps the price at a measly 20 quid.
~ [ Reliability ] ~
I've been using UltraISO for several years, and have installed every new update which comes along, and I have never had a single crash or unusable disc image. The software is stable, and the images it creates and edits conform with industry standards.
~ [ User Friendly ] ~
Disc images and virtual drives are things which require a certain level of savvy from the user already, given that most average PC users rarely come into contact with either. With that in mind, the software might be a little confusing if the principles involved aren't understood. However, if you're looking for a program which serves the needs UltraISO serves you must already know everything you need to know in that department, and in that case the software is 100% user friendly. Its interface is extremely basic, its options screen is streamlined and kept minimalistic, and the software's powerful features are deceptively straight-forward.
~ [ Installation ] ~
The downloaded installer is currently less than 4MB, and when installed it takes up less than 6MB of space which is nothing when you consider what it contains. Installing the program is as simple as it gets; you install it, start it and then register it with your license information. No reboots or secondary installations required.
The software works on all Windows operating systems from Windows NT 4.0 SP6a+ onwards. That includes Windows 98, ME, XP, Vista and 7. The x64 and x86 versions of these operating systems are supported, too.
~ [ Update Possibilities ] ~
Updates come along every couple of months or so, and are usually little more than fixes for small bugs certain users have reported since the last update (as mentioned above, I have never encountered a bug or had a crash in my three or so years of use). Unless you have a specific problem you probably won't need to update the software at all, ever, unless a new version is released with extra features or significant improvements over existing features. The lack of regular updates reflects this reality; updates just aren't called for!
~ [ Conclusion ] ~
For £20 this software is a steal. It offers massive benefits over its rivals, such as ISOBuster and PowerISO, and it does so for less money. The software is well-designed/programmed, with no bugs or crashes that I've become aware of in my several years of using the product. I find UltraISO to be an indispensable piece of kit, and I find myself using it several times a day, at least. If you make use of disc images and related technologies UltraISO is something you should look into.