Pismo File Mount: mount ZIP and ISO files as virtual drives

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Pismo File Mount is a free program that makes it possible to mount compressed archives, ISO CD/DVD image files, and its own custom encrypted private folder files as virtual drives that can be accessed freely through the Windows file system. Provide context menu integration for mounting/dismounting volumes quickly and easily.

This is an interesting app that allows for mounting compressed archives as (well as ISO files, open-format CFS files, and private folders) as virtual drives.

This means that instead of unzipping or extracting a zip archive you could simply mount it as a virtual drive (with its own letter drive number) to access the files within it.

The idea of mounting compressed archives has a certain appeal to me (as compared to the ’messiness’ of decompressing an archive, with its inherent duplication of files, that have to be deleted later on). However, to be honest the practical benefits/application of mounting ZIP files are not very obvious, especially as the mounted volumes are not writable for most supported file types (aside from the private folders which Pismo can create).

Nonetheless here is a list of practical scenarios where this could be useful:

  • Working with files within archives: you can view, say, media files, images or other filetypes that are compressed into zip archives without unzipping them. Simply mount the ZIP file and view the files on the virtual drive. Unmount when you’re done; no decompressing or file deletion afterwards needed.
  • Using system-wide tools on archived files: if for example you would like the files in as ZIP archive to be subjected to file-system-wide tools such as desktop search or file de-duping software. Simply mount these archives as virtual drives and you will be on your way.
  • Installing software: can be useful if you would like to install zipped software without decompressing then cleaning up. Simply mount the zip file, install, then unmount. No need for decompressed folders cluttering your working space.

More info on this program

  • How it works: right-click on a supported archive (e.g. a ZIP file) and you will find (self explanatory) “Mount” and “Unmount” options in the context menu -see screenshot above.
  • Encrypted folders: can create (writable) encrypted private folders that are mounted to a virtual drive and accessed through a password.
  • Supported filetypes: ZIP, ISO, CFS (read), as well as writable “private folders” (see above).
  • Mapping drives: you can map drives to a letter, which requires admin privileges or mount the volume as a single-owner volume without a drive letter. In the case of the former, you can choose a particular drive letter or have Pismo auto choose one for you.
  • Self mounting archives: for distribution can be created using the Ptiso command line utility (for Windows and Linux).
  • Memory use: approx 12 megs in memory when a volume is mounted; does not seem to stay in memory otherwise.

Wish list:

  • Write as well as read: it seems to me that this could be implemented (many archive/compression programs allow for moving a file into the zipped archive to add to it’s contents – e.g. the excellent free TugZip). This feature would make this program significantly better.

The verdict: this is a very interesting and innovative program, although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you are currently using another program to mount ISO files to virtual drives then you might want to consider using this one instead for the additional functionality that it provides (including quick archive encryption). Also if you have a lot of files stored in compressed archives this program can present a tremendous value-added potential for you. The bottom line is – I really like it!

[Thanks Brockman for tipping me off about this one].

Version Tested: 1.0.0.045 release Jun 20 2008

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Server 2008. Supports both 32bit and 64 bit systems.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (you will need to download the so called “Audit Package”, approx 981K).