Monday, April 30, 2012

How to use a CD/DVD on a Computer That Doesn't Have a CD/DVD Drive

A friend of mine asked me today how to use a CD on a computer that doesn't have a CD drive.  Luckily, this is an easy, albeit technical, one.  The overall strategy goes like this: create an ISO file of the CD, get the ISO file onto the CD-drive-less computer, open the ISO file with an emulator.

Creating an ISO file of the disc

This is where half the magic happens.  An ISO file is basically a file that exists on your hard drive that contains everything about an optical disc.  It's just like a Word document or an Excel workbook.  Except instead of opening in Word or Excel, you have to open it in a special program (don't worry, it's as easy as double clicking the ISO file).
The first thing to do is download and install ISO Recorder by Alex Feinman.  This will allow you to copy the CD to your computer's hard drive in the form of an ISO file.  After you've installed it, put the disc in your drive and look in 'My Computer'.  You should see the CD-drive icon change to the icon of the disc inserted.  Right click on that drive and click "Create Image from CD/DVD".
ISO Recorder will pop up asking where you want to save the new ISO file.  Pick a good place for it and hit next.  Wait for it to finish and you're ready for the next step.

Moving the ISO file to the CD-drive-less computer

This part can be accomplished via whatever method you choose.  The easiest (and least technical) is to just copy the ISO to a USB flash drive.  Then copy the ISO from the flash drive to the new computer.  Other options are to copy via the network or via torrent (depending on the size).

Opening the ISO File with an Emulator

This is the fun part.  Download and install Daemon Tools Lite on the CD-drive-less computer.  You may need to reboot after the installation; do that before continuing.  Once that's finished, find the ISO file and double click it.  You should get a message saying "Mounting Image to Virtual Drive".  After your mouse stops showing the hour glass and/or the message goes away, look in your 'My Computer'.  You should see a CD-drive.  WHAT?!  This is the virtual drive.  It should have your virtual CD in it.  You can now use the CD as if it were installed in a real drive.  And guess what, this CD can't get scratches on it.

ISO version of discs are a very handy way of keeping backups of discs.  Especially if you are worried that kids may destroy the originals.  Of course, DVDs manufactured by the movie industry usually have copy protection on them, so you might not be able to do this for just any disc.