One of my acquaintances, who has just got his first personal computer, has a weird new hobby – buying and copying CDs and DVDs (music, applications, movies) to his laptop’s hard drive. His reason is that he wants to put his collection all in one place, and he has plenty of storage space to spare. But being a first time computer user, he used a bit of a strange way of doing it. He copied everything inside the discs and pasted them onto the hard drive.
The results were various. Some of the copy-paste attempts were successful while others failed. When he asked me for a solution, I told him that simply copying the contents might not work for some discs. A better way would be to record them as disk images and then mount them using a virtual drive.
Why Would Anybody Want To Create A Disk Image?
The first time I met the concept of a disk image was in the late 90′s when I unsuccessfully tried to play a computer game without the CD. Back in those days, many software makers required that the installation/data CD’s were to be present in the tray before the application could run. If you used many applications and each one of them required several CD’s, repeatedly inserting and changing those CD’s could become very annoying. It would be much better if users transformed those CD’s into disk images and mount them using virtual drives.
Another advantage of using a combination of disk images and virtual drives is the number of virtual drives you can use. While normal computer users would never install 20 optical disc drives on their CPU, anybody can easily set up 20 virtual drives on their system.
Then there’s the performance issue. Running mounted disk images is faster and less resource hungry than letting the system read everything from the physical disc. This method also means a longer battery life for mobile computer users. Converting physical discs into disk images also means that you can use the discsvirtually from any computer that doesn’t have an optical drive such as small netbooks.
Last but not least, after copying the discs as images, you can safely store them away and prolong their lifetime.
Creating Disk Images:
Even though there are downloadable disk images on the web (Ubuntu Installer being one of them), the most common way to acquire disk images is by converting the real CDs with the help of disk imaging application. Most CD/DVD burner apps can accomplish the task, but one of the simplest free disk image software solutions that I found is ISO Recorder. This app will give you right-click access to create images.
§ After that, creating disk images is as simple as right clicking on the inserted real disc and choosing “Create image from CD/DVD“.
§ The next step is to choose the location to save the images.
§ The app will replicate the disc. The process could take some time, depending on the size of the disc and the speed of your system.
§ After the operation is completed, click the “Finish” button to exit ISO Recorder.
Repeat the process to create more disk images.
Adding Virtual Drives:
§ During the setup, you can associate several disk image formats to be automatically opened with Virtual Clone Drive.
The app will act as if it is installing a new hardware, so your computer will ask for your confirmation whether or not you want to continue with the installation.
§ After installation, the app will quietly reside in the System Tray.
§ Clicking on it will open the “Settings” window. There are several things you can customize here, but I think the most important one is the option to set up how many virtual drives you want to add to your system.
§ After that, mounting the disk images to one of the available virtual drives is only a matter of right clicking on the disk images and choosing “Mount“.
Using a combination of disk images and virtual drives, you can create as many images as you want (provided you still have room on your hard drive), mount as many images as you need, and keep them open all the time if you want to.