Backup Optical Media To .iso

In today’s article, we’re going to learn how to backup optical media to .iso. If you have optical disks you want to backup, this is an easy way to go about it. It will not work with all disks, especially those encumbered with DRM.

This is useful for data disks, for example. It’s also useful for music CDs. It’s less likely to be good for things like game DVDs or movies. Those use various methods to stop you from copying your discs. While there are ways to backup some of them, this article won’t be getting into it.

Instead, we’ll just be using ‘dd’ for this exercise. If you’re unfamiliar with ‘dd’, it stands for:

convert and copy a file

If you’re unfamiliar with the command, you should pay extra attention to the way it is used in this article. It’s a powerful tool and using it with just the slightest error can (and will) make you run for your backups.

So, with all those things in mind, let’s learn how to …

Backup Optical Media To .iso:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal now open, we should probably figure out where your optical disk is. One way to find your optical media drive is with this command:

Inside the results of that command you’ll find something like “[sr0] scsi3-mmc” from which you can glean that /dev/sr0 would be your optical drive. With that information at hand, you’ll fun this command:

Be really sure that the path to save is correct, though this command is less likely to harm you than other ‘dd’ commands.

Anyhow, you can verify the integrity of the file created. That’s an easy enough step to take and looks a bit like this:

That should spit out two numbers. Those numbers should match. If they don’t, then something has gone wrong and you might want to try it again.


There you go… Another quick and easy article. This one teaches you how to backup optical media to .iso, a handy skill if you want to preserve the data on the disks before they get worn out, broken, or lost. 

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Author: KGIII

Retired mathematician, residing in the mountains of Maine. I may be old and wise, but I am not infallible. Please point out any errors. And, as always, thanks again for reading.

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