Once upon a time, CD-ROMs and other optical discs provided the much-needed storage space that hard drives lacked, but with terabyte drives, shuffling disks in and out of your tray is just a nuisance. SlySoft's Virtual CloneDrive is a free tool that creates up to 15 virtual CD and DVD drives in Windows. You can copy your CDs and DVDs to your hard drive as ISO disc images and run them normally with Virtual CloneDrive. Instead of swapping disks in and out, you can simply mount and unmount disk images with a few clicks. Virtual CloneDrive works with any kind of optical disc file, including HD video formats like Blu-Ray as well as audio CDs and data discs.
Installing and setting up Virtual CloneDrive includes choosing which file types to associate with the program, if any, on a compact Settings dialog tab that includes language choices. According to the program's manual, some users may see warning messages about unsigned drivers and logos, but these can be ignored. Setting up our first drive was so easy, we weren't sure the job was done, but when we looked in Explorer, our new virtual BD-ROM drive was present and available. We could reopen the Settings dialog from the program's System Tray icon, which also accessed the Help manual and Mount/Unmount controls for each drive. Virtual CloneDrive's options are limited, but each is useful; for instance, you can set it to automount the last image mounted, buffer the input and output, and enable the Eject command to unmount image files, just like ejecting a disc.
We created an ISO image of several discs. Next we clicked Virtual CloneDrive's system tray icon and selected our virtual drive's letter. From the drive's submenu, we clicked Mount, browsed to an ISO image, and selected it. When we returned to Explorer, our new virtual drive displayed its contents. Copied CDs and DVDs played normally in our usual player. Unmounting images is just as easy. We could also clear each drive's History or just purge images that were no longer available in the History. Virtual CloneDrive is well worth trying.