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November 1996 Reviews TOC

11/96 Reviews SW: Virtual CD-ROM

A Virtually Flawless CD-ROM Solution

By Joel T. Patz

Stop grousing about the snail's pace of your multichanger CD unit and do something constructive. You can transform part of your hard drive into multiple, fast, virtual CD-ROM drives with Virtual CD-ROM. It's unbelievably simple, and the results are eye-opening.

Virtual CD-ROM builds CD-ROM images by compressing the contents of a CD-ROM into a "container" file (one per CD, which the program places on your local or network drive). You can define multiple virtual drives (as many as 24), then "load" the compressed image into any of them, just like a normal CD drive. There's also an "eject" button. In fact, since Virtual CD-ROM emulates a CD-ROM drive at the device layer level, your virtual drives appear as regular drive letters in Explorer. Virtual CD-ROM also supports Windows 95's Auto-Run, so when you load an image, it's as though you just inserted the original CD into a CD-ROM drive.

Start the process by invoking the program and putting your original CD in the drive. Then click on the Create a Virtual CD-ROM icon. The six-step Wizard asks you a few simple questions, then displays the CD's size and the estimated compressed size. You can run the process in the foreground or in the background, or you can specify that the compression run after hours, and up to a week in advance. Logicraft says it takes about 40 minutes to create an image for a full, 650MB CD. I picked a 201MB CD, the 1992 Mayo Clinic Family Health CD, which compressed down to 85MB in eight minutes and 28 seconds. The Virtual CD-ROM image of the 139MB on the Microsoft Publisher 97 CD was reduced to 74MB in six minutes flat.

Laptop users without a built-in CD-ROM drive can take their favorite CDs on the road without having to lug an external CD-ROM reader. Virtual CD-ROM lets you copy an image file from one machine to another, so you can use your desktop to create an image file. Then, using a docking station or a product such as Traveling Software's LapLink, load it into your Virtual CD-ROM-equipped laptop.

Even though the images are compressed, I noticed no degradation in speed. And the program worked flawlessly. One note: Unless you have a large hard drive, it's preferable to store image files on your network server. Virtual CD-ROM, at $69.95, is a clever, simple solution to make CD-ROMs readily available on your system or network.

--Info File--
Virtual CD-ROM
Pros: Performance
Cons: Disk space
Platforms: 3x, 95, NT
Disk Space: 2.22MB
Logicraft Information Systems
800-880-5644, 603-880-0300
WinMag Box Score 4.0

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