Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I want to use a CD image backup, but haven't got a CD writer. Is there any way I can run it from my hard drive?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003 0

Yes, it's possible to do this. First of all you need to get hold of a program that is capable of extracting .iso format files - Win Image will do very nicely. Install the program, run it, select the 'file' option from the menu bar and choose the 'open' option. Search through your hard drive for the .iso file you wish to decompress and double-click on it. Return to the menu bar, but this time select the 'image' option and scroll down the list until you come across the word 'extract'. If you click on this, a dialogue box should appear to ask you where you would like to extract the files to. Pick a suitable directory and press the extract button.

For application CD images you can just browse through the extracted files until you find one labeled setup.exe or install.exe and run it. Once the program is installed you will no longer need the extracted files so they can be deleted to conserve hard drive space (remember to keep the .iso file generated from your original CD, however, in case you need to re-install it at a later date).

On the other hand, if you are attempting to install a game to avoid having to keep your original CD in your optical drive, your task is going to be a bit more tricky. First of all you will have to choose one of two options. The first is to install the game and overwrite the main executable file with a copyright protection stripped version, available from Game Copy World. In this case, the game would be playable, but because the replacement executable bypasses any CD checks, you will probably lose any audio tracks and/or video sequences stored within the CD image. If you decide to take this path, make sure you select the 'full installation' option, if there is one, when you install the game to ensure that your hard drive can read the maximum amount of data available without accessing the CD itself.

If you are a bit more patient, a better option would be to use a piece of CD emulation software e.g. Virtual Drive, Daemon Tools or Fantom CD. These allow you to trick your computer into thinking that the CD image on your hard drive is actually a real CD sitting in your optical drive. Once you have one of these installed, all you have to do is select the CD image you wish to run and choose the 'mount' function. This will create a new virtual CD icon, which can be accessed through Explorer in the same way as any other conventional CD.

As these tools incorporate 'on the fly' data decompression, your CD images will take up minimal space on your hard drive until the moment they are accessed. Also, because hard drives are many times faster than optical ones, your games will run at a lightning fast pace without leaving you twiddling your thumbs waiting for them to spin up.

To begin using a virtual CD, simply double-click on its icon as though it were a real CD and wait for the installation menu to appear. If you now proceed to install the game in the customary fashion you can play it as usual, but with the added bonus that you'll never be able to lose the CD - because there isn't one!

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Is there a quick way to create a list of my software or MP3 collection?

Wednesday, June 11, 2003 0

Yep, sure is. You don't have to type it all out yourself, well unless you've got too much time on your hands and you really want to. Have a look at these nifty little programs listed at the excellent freeware resource, No Nags. Most of these microscopic marvels run from a single executable file, saving you the hassle of having to install them.

Double-click on the exe file of your chosen cataloguer to run the program, select the directory from which you would like to compile a list and let it rip. To keep things simple all these programs save your list as a basic text file, which can be opened and edited without specialised software. When you have created a series of text files you can use AM Code Search or a similar program to quickly find out on which CD a particular piece of software resides.

On the other hand, if you want a much more information packed list you can use Treesize Professional (it's shareware, but a crippled trial version is available for free). This program will allow you to add to your list statistics such as file sizes, dates, file locations and a myriad of other options, many of which are too detailed to be of any real use. One important advantage it has over the aforementioned freeware listers is that your list can be exported to Excel for further processing.

If even Tree Size sounds a bit tame, and you want to opt for some heavy duty cataloguing software instead, what better place to start than with Where Is It? According to the web site blurb this is an application, "designed to help you maintain and organise a catalogue of your computer media collection, including CD-ROMs, audio CDs, diskettes, removable drives, hard drives, network drives, DVDs, or any other media that Windows can access as a drive. The most basic goal for Where Is It is to provide access to the contents of any media you have from the catalogued database, even if the media itself is not available on the system - you can browse lists of files and folders, search by any criteria, use descriptions, thumbnails, categories, etc."

So there you have it, an application which does everything, but wash your socks! What more could you want?

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