IsoBuster for CD/DVD Data Recovery

By Bob Lafave, Tampa PC Users Group

I had started to use IsoBuster a couple years ago when I had downloaded my first .ISO formatted files. The .ISO format files are actually images of complete CDs compiled as one whole image, just like Ghost images do for hard disks and partitions. ISO images can be loaded into several different CD recording software packages to create CDs. I wanted to see what was inside these files without burning to a CD and also wanted to see if I could then extract specific files for my use. I also use GameDrive, which creates a virtual CD-ROM on your hard drive and stores the CDís in a .VCD format. IsoBuster can extract the data from both .VCD or .ISO files and allows you to explore the individual files and directories. As you can see from the screen capture, the interface is very similar to Windows Explorer or even Ghost Explorer; you open the files in the left panel showing directories and the more specific information is shown on the right. These are just a few of the file formats that you can work with and for a complete list please go to Little did I know what this program is able to do other than interpret these images that I was using.

An ISO file

I had started looking at data recovery from different computer storage methods as a subject I wanted to find more about. I had made a few CD-Rís that I could not view with Windows Explorer and I was interested in if data could be seen by something other than Windows Explorer. Who hasnít gone and deleted a file accidentally and hated having to try and remember how to recreate the file or prayed to be able to find a backup copy. And what do you do if you back up the file to either CD or DVD media and when you go to retrieve the file Windows Explorer does not recognize your backup CD disc? Besides, what do you do if the data is, say, a picture that was taken with a digital camera and transferred to a computer for use? Sure you made a copy to a CD-R but that was 2 years ago and now the hard drive on the computer died and your memories on the CD-R are not recognized. Thankfully there is IsoBuster!

My Sister's "Lost Photos"


I wish to thank Peter Van Hove, the CEO and founder of Smart Projects. I had e-mailed Peter with my interest in the data recovery and had asked for permission to review a full version for TPCUG and he was kind enough to send a registration id. Little did I know that shortly after I had activated all functions, my sister would call to tearfully tell me about her computer problems. When she sent me the CD, I placed it in my CD burner and I tried to use the undelete program that comes with Norton System Works 2003, but it does not recognize CDís. I then looked at the CD-R in Windows Explorer and with IsoBuster. Windows Explorer did not recognize the disc, let alone tell me if any files were on the CD. With IsoBuster I was able to see actual file names of photos that my sister said were on the CD-R. I looked at Help and found out what to do to recover the files and easily was able to recover all photos. At that point I was very happy that I had e-mailed Peter the month before and when I let my sister know that the photos were recovered, you cannot believe her happiness.

Each reader should go to and see what this program can help with. The individual features available are too numerous to list but put simply: IsoBuster uses different recovery methods and can recover most data on CDís if you can see it in the program window when inserted into the CD-ROM drive. The site itself has lots of interesting information on the program that, along with the included Help file, makes IsoBuster easy to use. There is a Free version of the program that will do certain tasks such as show you what is contained in an .ISO file; and a Full version that is a wonder at data recovery from CD/DVD that you may have burned yourself or even CDís that you may have purchased. The full version can be purchased online for $25.95 and a registration code is sent via e-mail. As Peter wrote to me, ďThe difference is that for files in the UDF file system (e.g. CDs written with Roxio Direct CD or Ahead InCD, or ... ) extraction won't work until you are registered.Ē To see what others users think of IsoBuster you can go to and follow the links to other reviews that have been done. If you donít purchase a full version, I am sure many of you will find uses for the free version along with a couple of the other programs that are on the site. u