VirtualDrive Pro 10

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, November 2006
Published by: Farstone Technology, Inc.
Requires: Windows 2000 and XP 64 and 32-bit operating systems and Windows Vista (RC2), Pentium 133 CPU or faster, 64MB RAM, 25MB free hard drive space
MSRP: US$49.99

VirtualDrive 10 is one of a variety of utilities designed to create a disk image of a program or content CD or DVD. Some productivity software and many games want to see the original, protected CD or DVD sitting in a drive before the software will launch and run. VirtualDrive 10 uses an image of the CD or DVD to fool the operating system into thinking the CD or DVD is actually in the drive.

Some of you may have tried a few virtual drive shareware and freeware utilities with varying success. In fact, these sorts of products require quite a bit of development effort, particularly on the game compatibility side of things, mainly because a lot of software and game developers continue to look for ways to implement counter measures to defeat software such as VirtualDrive 10. That aside, Kickstartnews really doesn't have a problem with any legal utility that helps people get at their software (and games) a bit faster and somewhat less encumbered.


VirtualDrive works with all the major copy protection schemes found on the most popular CD and DVD-ROM games including SafeDisk 1 and 2, SecuROM, Laser Lock, CD-Cops, SecuROM 5, SecuROM 7, and Starforce 1, 2 & 3. VirtualDrive 10 does not support Content Scrambling System (CSS) decryption which means that most commercial DVD movies are strictly off limits. As well, in many regions copyright laws for movie DVDs do not allow you to legally create a Fair Use backup copy or indeed any other sort of backup copy. It's a fact of life that purchased digital content of any kind is yours to 'own' for your personal use only, and any other use or contemplated use can and will be challenged by the organizations which govern copyrightable content.

The biggest question on our minds when we installed VirtualDrive 10 was whether or not it would work as well or better than some of the freeware and shareware offerings available today. The answer is an unqualified yes. After installation, launch VirtualDrive and load a CD or DVD. VirtualDrive will create its own image of the CD or DVD content, place it on your hard drive and assign a virtual drive letter to it. The operating system will be instructed to load the virtual drive letter for the program associated with the content, thereby fooling the program into thinking the CD/DVD is in the drive. QED.

We tried a variety of productivity software including the notoriously difficult FinalDraft v5 (still in wide use) and VirtualDrive work flawlessly. The list of CD/DVD-in-the-drive problems which VirtualDrive 10 can solve is very long. However, the software can't be used to create more than 23 virtual drives, reserving three drive letters—typically A, C & D—for the system. You can configure as many virtual drives as you have available drive letters and run multiple virtual CDs simultaneously.

In the 'old' days (circa 1996) virtual drive software was just that—virtual drives only (RAM drives were still popular then as well). Time have changed evidently because VirtualDrive can be used to assemble custom virtual CDs containing your favorite music tracks, software expansion packs, documents of all kinds, and custom programs.

Cons: Nothing obvious. Some games demanded two tries before we could create a working virtual drive image. There's a copyright issue that has to be dealt with whenever you use software that creates a disk image for use in a manner other than that intended by the software publisher or vendor. Be warned. Because game development is a moving target, certain games may not work with VirtualDrive 10, so you really have to keep an eye on the Farstone web site for updates.

Pros: If battery life problems are plaguing your game play on the laptop, use VirtualDrive to reduce the load because it's hard drive based. Because the virtual drive is on the hard drive, access time is much faster than anything you can expect from a CD or DVD drive (not in the least because you don't have to wait for an optical drive to spin up). If you travel with software that requires an original CD or DVD, VirtualDrive can dramatically reduce losses and damage simply because you won't have to carry the disks anymore. Recommended.

KSN Product Rating:





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