Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

There is a free recipe of programs available online, which can help you run a DVD directly from your computer's hard drive.

I am from South Africa. I have a standalone and a small Asus. I'm going on a game and bird watching holiday to Botswana in October and I'll be taking my Asus with me. The Asus does not have a built-in DVD drive although I have a portable drive for it. I have a registered bird disc, but although it installs on the Asus, it still needs the disc drive to access the database of birds. I'd like to not lug the portable drive with me. Is there a program that I can use to copy and run that program from just the hard drive? Not looking for any freebies. I just need to know whether this is even possible or not.

In this excerpt from Answercast #17, I look at several utilities to set up a database so it can be run without a DVD player.

Run a DVD from the hard drive

Well, whether you want freebies or not, I have a couple for you.

The short answer is "Absolutely!" I believe it is possible.

Burn a disc image

There are two tools that come to mind to solve this particular problem.

  • First, you use a tool like ImgBurn.

While we normally think of ImgBurn as disc burning software, it can also read discs and create ISO files out of them. What I would suggest first is that you create an ISO file that contains the contents of this birding CD or DVD.

That basically creates an image of the CD in a standard format that you can then keep on your hard disc on your Asus.

Read the image as a drive

The next step is: how do we get the Asus computer (or the software) to figure out to treat this image as if it were a mounted CD: an actual CD on the machine?

  • For that, I'm going to point you at a set of tools called Daemon Tools.

What they are is a tool that runs in your system tray and does pretty much exactly what we want.

It allows you to point to an ISO file and then mount that file as if it were a real drive. So literally, another drive letter would get used and would appear on your system.

So maybe drive E will suddenly show up as this virtual CD.

From there, it starts to get into the specifics of your birding program and how you tell it where the CD image is. Hopefully, you'll be able to tell it that it's on a different drive and you can simply have it reference this virtual drive instead of a real drive.

So, give that a try. I think that's the right direction. I'm sure there are other solutions out there, but that's what immediately came to mind.

As I said, both of these tools are free:

  • ImgBurn is free,
  • Daemon Tools has both a free and a paid version, and I think the free version is really all you need for this.

So, enjoy your bird watching holiday! That sounds like a lot of fun.

Article C5335 - May 14, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Mark J
May 14, 2012 12:51 PM

If for some reason the program doesn't have a way to change the drive where it looks for the data, you can create the .iso file, mount it with Daemon tools and install the program from the virtual DVD drive. You may have to deinstall the version of the program you now have on your computer before installing it again from the virtual drive.

May 15, 2012 7:25 AM

Sometimes discs have certain copy protections (like SecuRom and SafeDisc) that can render ImgBurn's iso files useless. This is to fight piracy. I haven't looked into this in a while, but back in my younger days, I seem to remember that to get around this type of thing required programs created outside the US (like CloneCD), because the DMCA made it illegal to circumvent these protections, even if the circumvention was for perfectly legal fair-use reasons (like this case seems to be).

But real pirates always have quickly found ways to circumvent these types of protections, so the people adversely affected by these rules are legitimate customers like the person who asked this question who are just trying to make their lives easier.

I don't know what the current state of affairs is, or whether this particular bird DVD has any of these copy protections, but it's something else to keep in mind.

May 15, 2012 11:48 AM

I've used Daemon tools in the past and I remember having to remove it. I seem to recall not one but several programs "catching" it on my computer and they wouldn't work correclty or wouldn't even install. I don't recall any detail though. I do know this, that Daemon Tools seemed on the up-and-up and I didn't feel it was anything "shady" but several programs didn't like its presence. Can anyone expand on this?

Geraint Duck
May 15, 2012 12:16 PM

Another solution that I've had work in the past (though perhaps with a lower success rate than your recommendations), is to just extract the iso with 7zip, then run the files directly from the extracted folder from your hard drive.

May 15, 2012 12:23 PM

You could try to use VirtualCloneDrive instead of the Daemon Tools. VCD seems to produce less problems.

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