Virtual CloneDrive is a small freeware application that allows you to mount image files, from a hard drive, as a virtual CD or DVD drive, just as if you had inserted the application into a physical CD/DVD drive.
To explain briefly: a disk image is a computer file containing the complete contents and structure of a data storage medium or device, such as a hard drive, CD or DVD. As such, a disk image contains all the information necessary to replicate the structure and contents layout, as well as the actual contents, of a storage device.
Generally, operating systems, particularly Linux and its many derivatives are available for download on the Internet packaged as an image file, e.g. an .ISO file, or as a .BIN/.CUE file. As well, larger applications can often be packaged for download in this way – Windows 7 RC was a good example.
Since I download and test operating systems and large applications frequently, over the course of the last year I could have easily burned up to 50+ CD’s or DVD’s just to use, or install, the software for testing. But, by having Virtual CloneDrive installed on my test system, I saved time and resources.
Once Virtual CloneDrive is installed on your system it will be assigned a drive letter, and will appear as a drive in Windows Explorer. The following screen capture shows Virtual CloneDrive as drive BD – ROM Drive (G:), on my system.
To mount an image file navigate to the file (in Windows Explorer), select the file and then and right-click. When the context menu pops up, simply navigate to Mount (Virtual CloneDrive). In this example Drive G:
Alternatively, you may select “Mount”, from the Tray icon. and follow the process.
An added benefit for those with a larger hard drive is, you now have the option of converting your CDs and DVDs into files that run directly from your hard drive. Simply click on a desktop icon to launch a virtual optical drive.
You can share virtual CDs, photo CDs, and disc-based applications over a network, with access rates up to 200 times faster than physical CDs; boosting the performance of photo CDs, and disc-based applications.
Supports all common image formats including ISO, BIN, CCD
Supports up to 8 virtual drives at one time
Easy to use – just double-click an image file to mount as a drive
Virtual CloneDrive is freeware
System Requirements: Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit).
Download at: Download.com
A caveat: I have found, in the time I’ve been using this application, that while most CD/DVD image files can be executed using Virtual CloneDrive, I have run into the occasional image that cannot be executed with this application.
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