Virtual CD’s

Even in the current day where the majority of software is downloadable, there are still many programs that require a CD or DVD to stay in your drive in order to function.Most notable are games which often don’t install themselves fully in order to save disc space and reduce the chance that they will be copied.Having to have a disc in the drive isn’t always ideal so this week we’re going to talk about virtual drives which can alleviate this necessity.

One program I’ve had particular experience with in the past is Alcohol 52% free edition which can be downloaded by heading to bear in mind that this free edition isn’t the core product offered by Alcohol Software so do make sure you look carefully and avoid downloading a 30 day trial for one of their more extensive versions by mistake.

Once installed, the software will allow you to create up to six virtual CD or DVD drives on your hard disc and these will then act to Windows as though they were real drives connected to your computer.Simply load one of your existing discs on to a virtual drive and it will stay present until you decide to delete it, even if you remove the physical CD from the drive or restart the computer.

There are several benefits to using a virtual drive but one of the most common applications is to back up existing physical media that you use frequently so that you don’t have to worry about losing or damaging the disc.Once you’ve created a virtual drive on your hard disk and copied the application from the CD or DVD you can then safely store the disc away without fear of anything happening to it.

The access time of a hard drive is a lot faster, so if you often play the same game you may find it beneficial to put the whole lot on to a virtual drive and then benefit from substantially reduced loading times; the reading speed of a virtual CD for example is 200x.

Some users may find another useful application is the ability to run multiple discs simultaneously; if need to use several different applications that all require their disc present during runtime then unless you have multiple drives you will soon become stuck.If you were to instead create several virtual drives then you could dispense of disc swapping entirely.

Of course, you may well wonder why bother with the effort of emulating a CD or DVD drive and that if you wanted to store the data from a CD or DVD drive on your hard disk then you should just drag and drop it over using Windows Explorer.Unfortunately, the primary obstacle in this instance is usually the copy protection employed when the data is recorded to the disc; very many applications will detect that they’ve been copied to a hard disk and then refuse to function.Alcohol 52% mimics the conventional CD or DVD format perfectly and also emulates many of the well known copy-protection methods to ensure that the disc you copy to your virtual drive has the best chance of working perfectly.

Weighing in at only 6.7mb Alcohol 52% is a very small application and the only negative point that I can come up with is that it’s bundled with the Alcohol search toolbar which installs itself automatically.The toolbar is next to useless and you should ensure that one of the first things you do is to remove it using the supplied uninstallation program.This minor point aside, Alcohol 52% is a very capable piece of free software and I certainly wouldn’t hesitating in making a recommendation to those who could have a use for it.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.