What is a .MDF file anyway?
The .MDF file extension usually designates a proprietary disk image format used by Alcohol 120%. Like ISO files, MDF files contain an exact copy a CD or DVD. This format is typically used for backing up discs and also for sharing the “backups” over BitTorrent or other P2P networks.
There are several applications that can open .MDF files :
- Alcohol 120% can mount .mdf files in a virtual CD/DVD drive. Commercial, free trial available.
- MagicISO can open or mount the files. Commercial, free trial available. Note : the trial version is limited to opening 300Mb files, so I don’t recommend using this one.
- Daemon Tools can also mount .mdf files using a virtual drive. Commercial, but the Lite edition trial version has no functionality or time limitations.
- IsoBuster can also open .mdf files. Commercial, has a free trial version with no time limit.
Gah, so all the tools are commercial. Which one should you use? Personally, I would recommend IsoBuster – it’s pretty convenient and won’t nag you incessantly about upgrading to the Pro version. It can also convert a .mdf/.mds file to the ISO format which is handy if you want to use the disk image with other CD/DVD software.
How To Open a .MDF File With IsoBuster
- Download IsoBuster & install it.
Note : You’ll probably want to uncheck the “Include the IsoBuster toolbar” option when installing IsoBuster. It’s probably not spyware, but there’s no point in polluting your computer with random applications. Just saying.
- Start up IsoBuster.
(The installer usually adds a QuickLaunch icon that you can use to run the program.)
- Open the .MDF or .MDS file by clicking on File -> Open Image File.
It doesn’t matter whether you select the .mdf or the .mds file in the Open.. dialog. IsoBuster will automatically load the appropriate disk image anyway. Alternatively, you can open a MDF file by dragging it into the left panel of the application window (it’s the box that contains the text “No media present” when you’ve just launched the program).
- Extract the files you need.
To extract a file or a folder, right-click it and select Extract [file name] from the pop-up menu. You can also drag files from the IsoBuster window and drop them into any folder on your computer to copy them there.
Additional Tip : How To Convert .MDF to .ISO
This is not a widely advertised feature, but I’ve noticed that you can actually use IsoBuster to convert .MDF/.MDS files to ISO. First, open the .mdf file as described above. Then right-click on the “CD” or “DVD” entry on the left-side navigation panel and select Extract CD/DVD <Image> -> RAW (*.bin, *.iso). Choose where to save the converted file, make sure “Save as type” is set to “*.iso”, and hit Save. After a short conversion process you’ll get an .ISO file (+ a .CUE file) that you can use with any CD/DVD burning or emulation software.
Thanks for reading 🙂