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Getting Started with Disc Images and Clone Drives

This is a quick guide for backing up and reading your DVD collection by cloning your DVDs. Don't get confused with "Ripping" your movies or concerts, that will be in a different tutorial. We will "clone" the DVDs to make disk image files which can later be mounted to fool your computer into thinking you've just put in a DVD.

What you'll need

I'll be explaining this for Windows machines, so if you are using a different operating system, you'll have to find equivalent software. So, Windows users, we'll only need 2 pieces of free software. For creating disc images I recommend ImgBurn [www.imgburn.com] and for mounting those images I recommend Virtual CloneDrive [www.slysoft.com]. Once you've downloaded both and installed them we're ready to get started. (During installation, don't forget to un-check all the extra stuff like toolbars, etc)

* Both of these programs can be used for plenty of other purposes. ImgBurn is an excellent choice for copying CDs or DVDs and Virtual CloneDrive can be used to mount any disc image which saves you the trouble of having to burn discs just to get one tiny file off it.

Cloning Your Discs

To tell you the truth I don't know if "cloning" is the official word, but I like to use it to differentiate from "ripping" and "copying". Insert your DVD and start up ImgBurn (or a similar alternative). Now choose "Create Image File from Disc" and pick a location to save the file. This will take a few minutes and you'll be left with a file ending in .iso. Just repeat this process for other DVDs you want to back up and whenever you're ready we can move to the next step.

Mounting the Disc Image

Now Windows usually looks at ISO files and wants to burn them to real disks, but here's where Virtual CloneDrive comes in. If you've already got it installed then just browse to the ISO files and right-click on one. From the menu options, pick VCD's mount option. You may not see anything happen right away, but if you check out "My Computer" you'll see that you have one more DVD than you thought you had room for in your PC. It's like I mentioned earlier, your computer thinks that you put a DVD in and will treat it accordingly- meaning you can use it accordingly!

Now you just use your favorite media player and enjoy your movies or concerts exactly the way you would while they were on DVD- subtitles, language options, scene selections and all.

If you've got other little tricks or tips, please share them in the comments below. Questions are also welcome for anyone to ask or answer.

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Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 15 September, 2010
DAEMON Tools (http://www.daemon-tools.cc/eng/downloads) is another popular disc image mounting tool, but I've chosen Virtual CloneDrive for it's direct approach. No useless additional features to confuse you or slow down your computer.

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