Most PC games released these days require that the game disc be in your computers CD/DVD drive in order to play it. It’s easy to see the reason for this, games producers want you to buy and own the game in order to play it, which isn’t unreasonable.
I’ll start off by saying that I don’t condone the pirating of games, or any software for the matter. But I do believe that people who own the games should be able to play them without too much trouble.
Unfortunately, if your computer doesn’t have a built in optical drive (such as some laptops) it can be very difficult to play your games or use your software. External DVD drives are one option, but who wants to carry more equipment around with them all the time?
The solution is to use a software package to create a “virtual CD drive” on your system which appears to Windows as if it were a normal CD or DVD drive. You can then load a disc image into that virtual drive and play your games without the original disc.
There are a number of packages that can do this for you, one of the most popular of which is Alcohol 52%. This is a cut down version of a fuller featured package called Alcohol 120, but the free version is more than enough for our needs here.
Download and install the package and you should be presented with a Window similar to this one:
The bottom part of the window shows your current (real) DVD drive, but for those of us who don’t want to walk around with an external drive, you’ll need to create a virtual drive. To do this, click “Virtual Drive” from the “Options” menu on the left, you should see a window like this:
To add a virtual drive, click the drop down menu and select a number (most people will only want one) and then click ok. When you return to the main window you should see a virtual drive at the bottom of the window as well as the actual drive.
Next, we need to look at creating image files for the CDs and DVDs that you’ll want to use with your virtual drives. To do so, select “Image making Wizard” from the “Main” menu on the left, you’ll then see a window like this one:
Make sure that the “DVD/CD Device” is set to your real DVD drive, then insert the disc that you want to virtualise and click “Start”, you should then see Alcohol create an image of the disk, this will take quite a while, around 15 minutes for a DVD, as below:
Once the disc is copied, click “Finish” and you’ll be returned to the main Alcohol page, only now the disc image you’ve created will ne shown in the main part of the window:
From here, it’s simply a case of right clicking the image file and then clicking “Mount on Device”:
As soon as you click this the computer will behave as if you’ve just inserted the disc into a real drive, meaning that the PC will probably autorun the disc. But if not, have no fear, the disc will appear under “Computer” as a physical drive:
So there you have it, provided you have the hard disk space you can carry as many discs around with you as you like. Some modern games will be able to detect the virtual drive and still won’t function, but for the majority of games you should be alright.