After Hours

Review: Virtual CD 10

Derek Schauland gives Virtual CD 10 a spin. If you need any-time access to media on CDs and DVDs, a virtual CD drive might be just the ticket.

Managing binders full of CD and DVD media are okay for archiving the CDs you have and keeping them organized, but carrying them around, just in case, can become a bit tedious. Virtual CD can help with that. The application allows you to create and organize copies of your media on your system's hard drive (or an external disk). When you need to access the media, you mount it to a virtual CD/DVD Rom device, which works just like a physical drive. Windows and most other applications see the inserted virtual CD just as they would a CD-Rom.

Specifications

A CD/DVD Rom is required for importing physical media and a CD/DVD burner is required for creating physical media.

Supported operating systems:
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Scripting Host 5.6 or higher
  • 100MB of hard disk space for installation

Who's it for?

Virtual CD is great for anyone who wants access to their CD/DVD media, without carrying books full of CDs around. As an example, I found Virtual CD great for storing training media. This way I can access the training videos anytime I need to right from my laptop without needing to make sure I have access to the DVDs.

What problem does it solve?

Always having access to your CD and DVD media whether or not the physical disks are handy is a valuable time-saver. The standalone edition lets you keep archives and other media accessible. In an upcoming post There is also File Server edition of Virtual CD which allows virtual media to be shared across the network.

Another issue that Virtual CD can get around is changing discs. Some applications require multiple disks at installation. If you use virtual media, you can mount both media at once or insert the second disk into the virtual CD device when prompted and speed up installation times.

Standout features

Catalogs: This feature allows you to create a searchable catalog from your physical or ISO media, making it easier to locate and browse files in your collection.

CD/DVD Burning Rom: Like other applications, Virtual CD allows you to burn discs. You can create media from virtual CDs and ISO images

Smart Virtual CD: This feature allows virtual CDs to be used on computers without an installation of the Virtual CD application. Using Smart Virtual CDs on actual media, DVD-roms, or USB flash drives will allow you to place all of the files for an installation together, removing the need for multiple CDs, and access them just as you would a CD-rom.

Figure A

Virtual CD Menu

Figure B

Virtual CD Management console

What's wrong?

The application takes a bit of getting used to and when first installed, I wasn't sure how useful it would be, especially since Windows and other products already allow media creation. Finding a set of media that works for you to virtualize (for me it was copies of the Windows installation media and training DVD roms) will help you see the usefulness of Virtual CD.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

For IT departments, traveling users, and other potential power users, Virtual CD puts the media in your CD binder at your fingertips making it more accessible with less additional components needed for use. The low cost of the application keeps it within the reach of many organizations, at just $34.95 for a single license and discounts as volumes go up.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

8 comments
Brainstorms
Brainstorms

There are Linux equivalents for this, for those who like this idea: IsoMaster will allow you to easily create, edit, and examine '.iso' files. File-Roller will allow you to examine and access files in a collection of ISOs (by double-clicking). Archive-Mounter will mount an ISO on your desktop (where it will persist until unmounted) and let you access it as though it were a mounted CD/DVD. The last two are typically installed by default. IsoMaster sometimes is, but should at least be in most distros' respositories; I consider it a "must have" app.

JackOfAllTech
JackOfAllTech

I've used DT for years with no problems at all. Does Virtual CD allow you to copy and mount Copy-Protected CD as well?

Smart_Neuron
Smart_Neuron

For that price, Virtual Drive beats the pants off this product. It's a no-brainer.

kbharat78
kbharat78

Does this have any open source alternatives? ImgBurn is a good open source alternative for burning, creating ISOs. It cant browse ISOs though.

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

You can virtualize some copy protected stuff and mount those virtual CDs. I doubt that copying the copy protected content is supported.

dave
dave

Actually I use ISOCreator freeware to create the iso and use MS virtual CD freeware. You can use CDBurnerXP to make iso also.

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