Surface tablets are really convenient and you can download or install 99% of what you need right from the network. However there are times where you might need to access data or install software from DVD/CD to your Surface tablet.
The most obvious way to do this is with a Portable DVD/RW External Drive. You can just plug it into the handy USB port and as long as it’s on the supported hardware list, you will see it pop up in Explorer on the desktop as a drive. This will work for Surface RT/2 or Surface Pro/Pro2 tablets just like from any other Windows computer. Though, you will only be able to actually install software if you have a Surface Pro/Pro2
On Surface RT/2, you can not install software without going through the Windows Store.
What if you don’t have a Portable DVD/RW External Drive? No problem, we have a method to get the data to your Surface tablet without a USB DVD/CD drive.
This method does require access to a computer with a DVD/CD drive (I’m good but not so good I can teach you how to magic the data off of the disc without a drive). I’m assuming that it will be a Windows machine but even if it’s not, the ideas will carry over, although the steps will be different.
Access data or install from DVD/CD to Surface
This method involves using software on a desktop or laptop with a DVD/CD drive to create an ISO file. An ISO file is essentially a copy of a whole CD or DVD without the disc. Your Surface can then mount the ISO file as if it were reading a real disc.
On a Surface RT/2 this means you can read files or play MP3s and on a Surface Pro/Pro2 you can also install programs. I’ve been using this technique to install some of my old games on my Surface Pro 2 (Evil Genius, for example) that I can’t get on Steam.
To do this, you will need to download some ISO creation software. I’m using ISO Toolkit from www.AskVG.com in this post for a few reasons…
- It’s free.
- It’s pretty simple to use.
- It’s portable (doesn’t need to be installed on a machine, just run the .exe)
- It doesn’t try to trick you into installing extras like toolbars.
OK, let’s get started…
Create an ISO File
- From the desktop/laptop computer with a DVD/CD drive, download ISO Toolkit.
- Open the zipfile and copy the ISOToolkit.exe file to the desktop.
- Make sure the DVD/CD you want to copy is in the drive.
- Run it. You may get some security alerts as the program needs to access the DVD/CD drive.
- Select the Copy Image tab.
- Make sure the DVD/CD drive is selected.
- Tap or click the Select button to pick the location where the ISO file will be created as well as it’s name.
- Tap or click the Copy Image button to start the ISO creation process.
- Wait until the copy is complete. It can take a while (especially for a DVD) so be patient.
That’s it. You’ve created your ISO file. Now you can get the file to your Surface tablet with SkyDrive or a USB stick, then do the procedure below to access it. Be aware that you can’t use SkyDrive to transfer the ISO file if it’s over 2GB in size.
For the next part, I’m going to assume you used a USB stick to copy the file over to your Surface.
Mount an ISO on your Surface
- Go to desktop mode.
- Plug in the USB key with the ISO file on it.
- From Explorer, browse to and then tap and hold on the ISO file (right click).
- When the right-click menu appears, tap Mount.
- Your Surface will mount the ISO file as if it were a DVD/CD in a drive. In fact, if you look at the screen shot below, you’ll see it even labels it “DVD Drive”
That’s pretty much it, at this point, you can treat it as if it were a real DVD/CD drive. When you’re ready to eject the ISO, just tap and hold on the drive in explorer and you’ll get a menu like the one to the right. Just tap on Eject and the drive will vanish.
I hope you found this post helpful.
I know it’s kind of an esoteric thing but, I had someone ask me how to get data from old discs to be accessible from their Surface and I thought others might appreciate it as well. Oh, and in case you’re wondering if I was able to get Evil Genius to work this way…
I sure was.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.