By Mohammad Yousef | January, 2006
Q: Being a regular gamer, I was interested when a friend told me about software that can create virtual CD/DVD drives. Can you tell me more about it and which program I should use: Alcohol 120% or DAEMON Tools?
A: Using virtual discs has several benefits for computer users who need to frequently switch between discs. Virtual CDs are hassle-free and run much faster than physical CDs spinning in a drive. They allow you to keep your original expensive CDs and DVDs in a safe place to prevent damage. Thatís why software like Alcohol 120% and DAEMON Tools has become popular among PC gamers. Plus, virtual CDs are an alternative for no-CD patches which can be hard to find and questionable when it comes to legality.
So how do they work? First you need an image (copy) of your disc saved to the hard-drive. Then youíll need software to create virtual drives where the image can be mounted (loaded). However, those huge image files can easily eat up your hard-driveís free space, so watch out for that.
Now there are several virtual CD/DVD programs to choose from, but DAEMON Tools and Alcohol 120% are by far the most well-known. I am quite familiar with both programs, so Iíll tell you about the major (and some minor) similarities and differences to help you decide which one is suitable for you.
Both DAEMON Tools and Alcohol 120% can create virtual drives, mount and unmount images and emulate the copy-protections: SafeDisc, SecuROM, Laserlock and RMPS.
But Alcohol 120% provides several more features: creating and burning images, creating duplicate back-ups of most CD/DVDs, erasing re-writable discs and an emulation function called ďIgnore Media TypeĒ. And it allows up to 31 virtual drives compared to a maximum of 4 drives that you can create with DAEMON Tools.
As for the interface, I found both programs quite easy to understand. DAEMON Tools runs only from a system tray icon while Alcohol 120% has a clean window to manage your images and virtual drives. They look very different but each is simple in its own way.
To wrap it up, obviously, Alcohol 120% offers much more functionality than DAEMON Tools, but thatís not all. Alcoholís additional features come at a small
price whereas Daemon is freeware. So, I canít really decide for you which one is
better. My advice is to install DAEMON Tools, try it for a while, download the 30-day trial of Alcohol 120% and see which one meets your needs.