How do you use a CD or DVD with out a physical drive?

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Virtual drives are very popular add on programs.

A virtual drive (VD) is an emulation of a physical drive. That is a program that uses a file to emulate or imitate a real drive either a hard drive, cd/dvd, or floppy drive.

So you ask you self what good would a virtual disk be? Well there are some good uses for a VD.

Such as music. Suppose you have a collection of cd's by a certain group (like the Who) and you like to listen to the music with your computer. You could copy each cd and then use a virtual drive to play the music. This would save the original cd from being used and damaged. I have all the Who cd's and as time goes by they have become collectable items. They are in their original cases and are not scratched yet and I listen to them frequently, by VD!

Another use for a virtual disk is for applications, you make a copy of the installation cd and then put the original away. The cd doesn't get lost or damaged and if you need to reinstall the software you just mount the copy on with a VD and do the install.

Note the term Virtual Drive and Virtual Disk are used interchangeably, they both mean the same thing.

Another benefit with using a Virtual Disk is speed, even the fastest CD/DVD drives are a fraction of the speed of a hard drive. Also your hard drive (unless it is in a laptop) is always spinning, where as a cd or dvd drive shuts down between reads, no lag time when the file is being read when using a VD, no pauses in the movie or music!

What about DVD's or Blu Ray you ask, yes you can do DVD's also. This means you can put your favorite movies on your hard drive and watch them on the flight from New York to Rome and skip the in flight movie. Plus you can have more than one movie on your hard drive. The only limitation is the size of your storage.

So how does this work?

You will need two different software programs.

You will need a program that will make the 'image' of the disk.

You will need program that emulates the physical drive.

One such program that copies a cd or dvd is called Roxio. This is a CD/DVD creator program. The program will make data cd's, music cd's, movie cd's, or DVD's.

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It also will copy a disk and you can save it as an ISO (Industry Standard Organization) image file. This is the file the emulation program either converts to a certain format or mounts (loads) as the emulated drive. There are other programs that will copy cd/dvd disks, I am most familiar with Roxio because it is bundled with both of the DVD drives I have bought.

To mount or load your copied image file of the cd or dvd you need a program that emulates a cd or dvd drive, this is called either a Daemon or Virtual CD.

One program that I use is called Daemon Tools, it is a free download from the web (remember that when you download from the web that there are people out there that will add viruses and trojans to software so do your 'do diligence' and scan that download before you open it!) Another fine program is called Virtual Disk (which will also copy a CD / DVD that DOES NOT have copy protection on the disk) by the Farstone software publishing company. Both are very fine programs and will serve you well.

How do you make the ISO and then mount it?

Once you have the two required programs you can proceed with making your copies to mount from your hard drive.

Using your cd/dvd burning program you make a copy of your disk, then save it to your hard drive. Once you have the copy then it is a matter of either just pointing the program to the ISO file and mounting it or as in the case of VD by Farstone converting it to the proper format and then mounting the file with the program.

The newer versions of the Farstone Virtual Disk will create or copy cd or DVD's and you can save the created file as a VCD format for mounting with VD.

Now when you travel you can carry your music, games, and movies with you anywhere you go!

Remember that most software company's allow you to make one backup of their software under license (Always read the EULA!)* but some CD/DVD's have copy protection (such as games) and will not run in the virtual drive mode. Check the EULA* before making a copy.

* End User License Agreement

Links:

Daemon Tools

Farstone

If you would like to learn more about the Virtual world have a look at my E-Course on Virtual drive and Computing.

How do you keep your CD or DVD's in good shape along with keeping the use of your drive to a minimum? With a Virtual Disk!

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