If you want to examine or
extract the files contained in a disk image, you need extra software, as Windows
cannot open an image by itself, and neither can most CD-writing software. An
excellent third-party utility that can help with this is Smart Project's Isobuster
(www.isobuster.com), a freeware/shareware product that can read many image file
formats and copy files out of them.
This can be handy for
recovering data from a damaged CD also.
Copying CDs and
All of the major CD-creation software packages come with the
option to do a direct copy of a CD or DVD disk. This is
accomplished by either copying the data from the original disk in a separate drive
directly to the new blank disk in the writer (on the fly copying), or more
commonly, by creating a disk image on the hard drive, then using that image to create
further copies on blank media.
The creation of an
image file is the default method used for copying, as it is considerably more
reliable and flexible. Using this method, you need only the CD or DVD writer, as
the data disk can first be copied to the hard drive and then ejected to make
room for the blank media.
copying 'on the fly' you obviously need
a second CD or DVD capable drive to read the data disk. When you choose to
copy a disk using an image file, you can generally select whether or not you
wish the image to remain on the hard drive after you create the copy, so you can
use it in the future. With this method you will need sufficient hard drive space
to hold the image you are (at least temporarily) creating, 700MB for CD-R/RW and
up to 4.7GB For DVD media.
For copying your own data or
custom music CD and DVDs, there is nothing more to it than starting the copy and
inserting blank media when prompted. If you wish to make backups of commercial
software or music CDs or backup your DVD collection things get much more
complicated very quickly, both for logistical and legal
Much commercial software
(especially games) and recent music contains forms of copy protection designed
to make copying much, much more difficult. This can range from including
deliberate 'imperfections' in the original CD to confuse CD writers into
thinking the disk is damaged (a process introduced with the original Half-Life
game) to making music CDs that actually will not play on computer CD drives to
DVD duplication is even more
complicated, as not only are the original DVDs encrypted, they also often
require editing before they will fit on a standard 4.7GB DVD-R disk.
The industries involved
obviously have an interest in making it very difficult to copy their products,
and this is fair enough; Software piracy is a huge problem. It does make things
very tricky for the innocent user who wants to guarantee his investment in their
products though. The one constant to these various methods of copy protection is
this; someone has figured out how to defeat all of them at one time or another.
Newer CD writers even include
support for bypassing several copy-protection methods though software, creating
an interesting financial battle scenario between software companies and hardware
manufacturers. While generally speaking, backing up software you have purchased
for personal use is quite legal, there are several complex areas. PCstats has
a comprehensive article on the various legalities involved in
backing up software and music that you may wish to read.