Warning – Boring technology content ahead…
This one was pretty interesting. My sister-in-law works at a preschool that has a small computer lab (8-10 computers) and 10 or so educational games that the kids play. Here’s the issue…
- The games are all on CD-Roms
- Every game requires the CD to be in the drive to play.
- The kids are not allowed (nor are they old enough) to switch discs.
- The school owns one copy of each game per computer for a total of close to 100 discs.
- The kids may play 3-4 different games during their time in the lab.
- One teacher (my sister-in-law) has to switch out the discs each time they switch games.
- Copying the files to the hard drive (even installing the game that way) does not fix the problem…they still get an error telling them to “Insert CD to continue”.
The solution is to create virtual CD-Rom drives and mount (copy) an image of each game disc to it’s own virtual drive. There are a number of products to help you do this but one of the easiest (and free) versions is MagicDisc (download here). This software allows for the creation and management of up to 15 virtual drives. To get started you first need to uninstall any games that you wish to run this way. If it was originally installed from the real CD-Rom drive it will continue to look for that. After creating a virtual drive you will reinstall from there. This technique can be used for any CD or DVD (assuming you have a DVD drive) not just games…you could keep “Weekend at Bernie’s” loaded up all the time without carrying the DVD around. That’s probably a bad example cause who doesn’t keep “Weekend at Bernie’s” around all the time. Once everything is uninstalled you need to download the software from the link above (they have both 32 and 64 bit versions) and install the software. Once installed you will see the MagicDisc icon in the system tray.
Right click on the icon to access the MagicDisc menu. By default one virtual drive will have been created. If you need more click on “Set Number of Drives” and choose the number you need – up to 15.
As soon as you select the new number your computer will detect and install new hardware…one for each virtual drive.
In fact if you look under “My Computer” you will see all of the additional drives…the computer in this picture only has one physical optical drive.
Next we need to create our image files…think of these as copies of the discs although you won’t see each individual file. Do this by right clicking on the system tray icon and choosing “Make CD/DVD Image”
You’ll be prompted for the source of the image (make sure you have the disc in the CD-Rom drive at this point). You’ll need to choose a location on your hard drive (or network) where you want to store the image (I made a directory on the root of c:\ called Games and stored all the images in there. You will also need to name the image file…pick something that makes sense like the actual name of the game or movie…
After you’ve created the image remove the disc from the drive. Now we are ready to mount the image. This is the term for loading an image onto one of your virtual cd drives. Right click on the system tray icon and choose
“Virtual CD/DVD-ROM>Pick a drive letter>Mount”
You will now be asked to choose an image file to mount…navigate to where you stored the image you created earlier and select it.
After you select the image you will see a verifying image progress bar and when that completes it will autorun the disc (if the disc supports that). At this point you can install the game or watch the movie or any other functions just as you would with the actual disc in the computer…in fact it will show up under “My Computer” just as it would if it were a physical disc.
This will persist if the computer is rebooted or even if MagicDisc is closed. To remove an image select the drive from the system tray icon and choose “Unmount” or you can select “Unmount All Drives”. You can alway remove virtual drives by changing the drive number.
Hope this helps someone else out there!