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Why & How to Use an ISO Featured Image

Why & How to Use an ISO

by: Hostwinds Team  /  October 25, 2019

Strangely enough, wool is known to be quite mysterious in specific ways. Now, you may be wondering what wool has to do with ISO's, which is very understandable. Stay tuned and fasten your seatbelts, folks, because it's going to be a bumpy ride to ISO's from here!

Wool has an almost ethereal quality for this reason: When you try to tear its fibers apart quickly, it won't budge. However, it seamlessly rips apart like butter when you slowly separate its strands.

The same goes for those things in life we try to force and those outcomes onto which we grasp too tightly. The fact of the matter is, if we try to rush or control the result, we reduce the chances of attaining our desired goal. If we take our time and deliberately let things happen as they should, everything somehow falls into perfect order.

This also happens to be how technological evolution has increased exponentially within the last decade or couple of decades. To provide you with a precise example, let's take a good old trip down memory lane, shall we?

Trip Down Memory Lane: Do you remember when floppy disks became obsolete? At first, no one believed that we would rid ourselves of these retro tools. Rather than resisting the shift from floppy disks to CDs, the progress was embraced! We transitioned from floppy disks to CDs calmly and gradually. This is why the metaphorical wool was so gracefully disassembled in this particular case.

Follow-Up Question: Did you ever think there would be a day when CDs would become obsolete? We've seen it in terms of music thanks to the debut of the iPod or MP3 Player, but what about CD drives on computer devices? You've probably already noticed that modern-day computers often don't even have a CD drive! Optical disc drives are becoming more and more scarce by the minute. Who would have thought?

Enter ISO's.

The term ISO isn't necessarily well-known as of yet. However, ISO's are widely used in a variety of ways. Before exploring exactly how ISO's are employed, we'll make sure to define this relatively new technical term.

What is an ISO?

In short, an ISO is a computer file with the extension .iso. An ISO file, also known as an ISO image, is essentially a virtual CD to expand on that. Generally, when a file ends with the extension .iso, it is the virtual equivalent of a CD containing a backup of the data and file system existing within another optical disc. The ISO represents a replica of all the information that was saved to the disc.

An ISO contains multiple files and metadata, and it emulates the file system that existed on an optical disc. ISO's are considered 'archived files' because they consolidate large amounts of files and folders into one solitary file (the ISO file). As such, these computer files are helpful if you need to transfer larger groups of files from one place to another, like from a CD to your computer.

Due to the fact some computers don't have a disc drive anymore, ISO's can be used to install operating systems or software applications.

Great News Pertaining to ISO's: You don't have to use a CD to install an operating system anymore because you can use an ISO!

Another Trip Back Down Memory Lane: Do you remember when you had to purchase the physical disc of the game or software application you wanted to download onto your computer? ISO's have taken the place of many of these CDs.

Definition of ISO as Explained in a Hostwinds Guide: "ISO's can be thought about as an up-loadable CD/DVD install of an OS."

Click the link below to view that guide, entitled "Cloud Control Overview."

Cloud Control Overview

Definition of Mounting in Relation to ISO's: When you mount an ISO, you attach it to your device. Once your ISO is mounted, it is as if a virtual disc or USB drive has been inserted into the device.

ISO's make it easier and more systematic to download things onto one's computer or device.


HERE'S WHY: ISO's permit us to download an abundance of files and folders with one click because they are all confined within a single .iso file.

P.S. ISO technically stands for International Organization for Standardization.

P.P.S. You can store your ISO image on a USB drive and use it later.

Why Use an ISO?

Who doesn't love a good ISO? What's that? Too much geeky technical talk too soon? In that case, we'll cut to the chase here with a set of bullet points outlining the assortment of tasks you can carry out using an ISO.

As previously mentioned, ISO's are most commonly used for installing operating systems. However, the following procedures involve ISO's as well:

  • Transferring information from a CD or DVD to your computer
  • Backing up/duplicating information (even if it is a ton of files) as a preventative measure in case something happens to your data
  • Burning files to a CD or DVD that existed on another CD or DVD

You can also use ISO's to manage applications or files for your operating system, e.g., adding them, copying them, etc.

Now, let's cover how one might use an ISO.

How Do You Use an ISO as a Hostwinds Client?

As it turns out, there are many uses for an ISO as a Hostwinds client. You have plenty of options available to you if you would like to work with ISO's.

Warning: There will be multiple quotes from many intelligible individuals within the subsequent sections.

1. You Can Upload Your Own ISO

Our "Hostwinds Cloud Control Quick Start Guide" confirms item #1 within the following excerpt: "At HostWinds, we allow customers to upload their server images to use on your VPS service."

Click below to read the entirety of that guide!

HostWinds Cloud Control quick start guide

2. You Can Reinstall or Create a VPS Server Using an ISO

Another Hostwinds Knowledge Base guide to the rescue! The author of our "Reinstall VPS / Cloud Server From an ISO" guide covers item #2 by affirming, "Hostwinds' Cloud Control and Cloud Portal provide the option to install your server from an attached .iso file instead of one of our many premade images of an Operating System and Applications. This allows you to install almost any OS (via ISO upload) or choose from several we have uploaded for you."

Click below to receive detailed instructions as to how to reinstall a cloud server with an ISO:

Reinstall VPS / Cloud server from an ISO

More Quotations:

"With our Cloud VPS plans, you can install any operating system, so long as there is a valid ISO file that can be used for the installation."

"If you uploaded your ISO, this will display as the last option under Private. From there, you can select the description you named your ISO when you uploaded it while creating your new server."

Those quotes came from, you guessed it, yet another Knowledge Base guide entitled "Create a New Server with an ISO." Click the link below to receive step-by-step instructions as to how to create a cloud server using an ISO:

Create A New Server With An ISO

3. You Can Attach, or Mount, an ISO to a Previously-Created Cloud Server

As stated so elegantly from one of Hostwinds' Support Team Representatives, David, the Cloud Portal enables you to "upload your own custom ISO's that can be mounted to a VPS for installing your operating system on the server." David went on to state, "There are many ISO's we already have available, or you can upload your own from the Domains page."

For more information about ISO management, click any of the links below.

ISO Management Overview

Managing ISOs With Your Cloud / VPS Server

How To Attach ISO To Already Created Instance

Detach ISO From Instance

Now that all the quotations and ISO employment information are out of the way, we'll take you on tour through the Cloud Portal to see for yourself how easy it is to manage your ISO's.

ISO Management in the Cloud Portal

Follow these steps to review the ISO options you have available to you in the Cloud Portal:

Step 1: Log in to your Client Area by visiting and clicking the 'Client Login' link at the top of the page

Step 2: Click the 'Cloud Control' link on the royal blue navigation bar toward the top of the page >> Click 'Cloud Portal'

Step 3: Now that you are in the Cloud Portal, if you would like to create an ISO, click the green 'Create' button at the top-right of the page >> Click 'ISO'

Step 4: Fill out the input boxes on the pop-up form as seen below >> Click the blue 'ADD ISO' button.

Here is a Quick Rundown of the Input Boxes on This Pop-up Form:

Our "How to Upload Own ISO Image" guide will be providing information about each section.


  • Description – This should be a brief description or name for the ISO file. This will help to separate if you have more than one ISO file uploaded.
  • URL – This is the direct download URL to access the ISO file. Our system will use this to import the ISO file for use.
  • Bootable – This is a togglable option that determines if the ISO file can boot from with a Cloud VPS.
  • Location – This is the data center location where the ISO file will be stored. This should be the exact location as with the VPS either being reinstalled with the ISO or newly created with the ISO.


The following link will direct you to that "How to Upload Own ISO Image" guide:

How To Upload Own ISO Image

Step 5: Now that you have an ISO, click the 'STORAGE' drop-down menu at the top of the page >> Click 'ISO's'

Step 6: If you hadn't created an ISO yet, your page would look like so:

Step 7: Seeing as you have made an ISO, your page will look like so:

Notice the STATUS of the ISO is "active," as highlighted in the above screenshot.

Step 8: Now click that same 'Create' button at the top-right of the page >> click 'Servers'

If you click the 'ISOs' tab, you'll be able to view the ISO's Hostwinds offers.

Just a Reminder: You can also upload your ISO.

Step 9: Now click the 'SERVERS' drop-down menu on the white navigation bar at the top of the page >> Click 'My Servers' >> Click on one of your cloud servers' nicknames >> Click the 'ISOs' tab.

This is where you attach available ISO's to the cloud server you just clicked on! Click the 'Attach ISO' button, and you are all set.

Hostwinds' Front-Line Support Team Representative, David, elaborated on this a bit when he said, "The ISO's section allows you to attach an ISO to the VPS to be able to boot to, either for installing an OS or for boot utilities."

What would we do without our brilliant support team? That is a question to which no one here at Hostwinds wants to know the answer.

Step 10: Here's how to view your billing information for your ISO's:

Click the 'ACCOUNT' drop-down menu >> Click 'Billing.'

Billing Information Pertaining to Hostwinds ISO's:

In the words of Hostwinds' sagacious Director of Front-Line Operations, "If you create a server from an ISO, it's going to incur a cost. It will be a part of your storage cost. There's an hourly cost for ISO's for the life of the server or until you reinstall a regular operating system, not an ISO or a snapshot template."

That pretty much covers it! Now that you're no stranger to the resplendent and magnificent ISO, it's time to (corny pun coming up:) ISOar into realms unknown!

ISOar Into Realms Unknown

Technological advancement is very unpredictable, yet simultaneously very steady. Even so, as long as we remember to let go and allow this evolution to occur in due time, things will unfold in the right way. ISOs are just the tip of the iceberg for new and improved ways of accomplishing a technical task.

Thus, in summary:

Why use an ISO? To make your life easier.

How do You Use an ISO? Patiently and with great care.

Written by Hostwinds Team  /  October 25, 2019