VOGONS


Which software to preserve CDs?

Topic actions

First post, by Zup

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I'd like to preserve some old CDs that have various methods of protection, so I'd like to know what imaging software/format do you recommend. That's what I've found:

- Blindwrite: That's the first program I used to copy some Safedisc protected programs. At some time, it seems that the development was paused and better options appeared. The last version (according to wikipedia) was launched in 2013.
- CloneCD: It took the job when Blindwrite dissappeared... but something strange happened when Elaborate Bytes was superseded by Slysoft and it doesn't feel the same thing anymore.
- Alcohol: It was the first program I know that supported DPM, and still is in development.

So, it seems to me that the best way to store the CDs is using MDF/MDS if it has any kind of protection (if it is not protected, I guess ISO and BIN/CUE are simpler and better).

The problem is that Alcohol seems very intrusive and some software won't work unless Alcohol is disabled or uninstalled. I've read that Daemon Tools (at least as intrusive as Alcohol, but I've got a computer that has it installed) and CDBurnerXP are also capable of making MDF/MDS images, but (being MDF/MDS a propietary format) I don't know if they store all information about weak/unreadable/readable-with-bad-CRC sectors and DPM properly.

So... what software/format do you use to make an "exact" image of CD-ROMs? Are Daemon Tools and CDBurnerXP MDF images as good as Alcohol ones?

Also, ImgBurn surprised me with an interesting feature... it makes a log that tells you what sectors failed to read, with the type of error found and (a nice touch) which file inside the ISO is affected. That is very useful if you've got an old CD with personal data and want to know which files were lost.

Is there any MDF/MDS parser that can look into the MDS part and lists you that same information (wrong sectors, files affected and the like)?

Thanks.

I have traveled across the universe and through the years to find Her.
Sometimes going all the way is just a start...

I'm selling some stuff!

Reply 1 of 28, by mr.cat

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

According to redump.org, it's more a question of having a specific optical drive model.
There's a promising new software in the works called DiscImageCreator on that site as well (very much wip right now).
It looks like they are interested in adding DPM functionality, but who knows if that'll ever happen. So Alcohol is your best bet right now if you need MDF/MDS.

Zup wrote on 2021-02-13, 10:31:

Is there any MDF/MDS parser that can look into the MDS part and lists you that same information (wrong sectors, files affected and the like)?

I know of one called "Advanced MDS Edit" but haven't used it.

EDIT: Search for "AdvancedMDSEdit055.zip", it originates on a russian site. Smells a bit too funky to direct link it here, but you can pm me if you can't find it.
Idk if it is what you look for though, it's described as follows:

The main purpose of this program is the correction of topology *.mds files created by Alcohol emulator and not less, comparing of it.

Last edited by mr.cat on 2021-02-13, 21:35. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 2 of 28, by firage

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Hate dealing with Alcohol 120% sometimes, but I've ended up buying it. Haven't come across problem software that you mention, but don't doubt there are some such issues. I think it's worth it for my own archival.

MDF/MDS for discs with protections or audio tracks on them, ISO for simple images.

My big-red-switch 486

Reply 3 of 28, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

I was using Nero Burning ROM (v5 to v7) so far.
The virtual CD recorder can create *.NRG files, which hold all the sessions of a CD/DVD, including audio tracks.

The format is also documented and supported in programs like Magic ISO, I believe.
If necessary, it can be converted any time, as long as a virtual drive can read it.

Anyway, I noticed that some people don't like Nero, because it's too proprietary for their taste and favour *.CUE/.*.BIN stuff instead.. 😀

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 4 of 28, by Zup

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

So I guess I'm stuck with mdf/mds. I'll try to dump the same (protected) disc with CDBurnerXP, Daemon Tools and Alcohol 52% FE to check if there are differences between dumps... if I'm able to find a program that can parse MDF/MDS and dump the information about disc layout and wrong sectors.

mr.cat wrote on 2021-02-13, 10:45:

I know of one called "Advanced MDS Edit" but haven't used it.

Sorry, but I can't find that program...

Jo22 wrote on 2021-02-13, 12:33:

Anyway, I noticed that some people don't like Nero, because it's too proprietary for their taste and favour *.CUE/.*.BIN stuff instead.. 😀

I'm one of those that doesn't like Nero, but mainly because after 5.x it went into a bloated mass of unnecessary features. IMHO, Nero 4.x or 5.x would be the best versions and I'd still use them... but they can't manage BDs.

I've been looking the wikipedia article about NRG, and I can't see how does it store DPM and/or "bad" sectors (if it can do it). Without that information, a Safedisc/SecuROM/Starforce image won't run... so I've discarded it as a mean to preserve CDs. Also, I think that CUE/BIN is a simpler, more supported way to store unprotected mixed-type CD-ROMs... and gives you the ability to use "alternate" formats to store sound tracks (but, to properly preserve it, you should refrain from use .ogg or .mp3 and stick to .bin or .flac format).

I have traveled across the universe and through the years to find Her.
Sometimes going all the way is just a start...

I'm selling some stuff!

Reply 5 of 28, by DosFreak

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

I've gone through all my images that were saved in odd formats and converted them to .ISO or .CUE/.BIN if they don't use copy protection.
For those that do I keep the original but also save as .ISO (or extract the files) with the crack so I can easily install and play on any OS I choose.
I almost never use the original since I hate having to install the program so I can mount it and more often that not causes stability issues on the host OS either due to the mounting program or the copy protection used by the game.
I'm also still pissed at Alcohol since when they went to requiring activation almost right after I bought it years ago so barely ever use it except for when testing.

I never bothered with comparing CDBurnerXP and Daemon Tools to Alcohol since back in the day Alcohol was superior for backing up copy protected discs.
CDBurnerXP I never liked due to the .NET requirement but it's built in to Windows for quite awhile now and ImgBurn is never updated so I grudingly accept it.
Daemon Tools I rarely ever use anymore unless I find a game I haven't bothered to extract the files from and I try to remember to use VirtualCloneDrive instead.

DOSBox Compilation Guides
DosBox Feature Request Thread
PC Game Compatibility List
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
Running DRM games offline

Reply 6 of 28, by dr_st

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I've been using Alcohol and it's good for most copy-protection schemes. But it looks like it can't handle TAGES? I think the paid version of Daemon Tools Image Editor may be able to do that.

https://cloakedthargoid.wordpress.com/ - Random content on hardware, software, games and toys

Reply 8 of 28, by darry

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
auron wrote on 2021-02-14, 20:50:

one major issue is with cd audio tracks - this has already been brought up without much resonance: An exact backup copy of games in mixed mode

Daemon Tools works for mounting mixed-mode CD cue/bin images in Windows 10 .

EDIT: Not sure how it handles pre-gaps and offsets .

Reply 10 of 28, by darry

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
auron wrote on 2021-02-15, 00:32:

the topic is about 1:1 preservation of optical media - if that goal was so simple to reach i doubt there would be a need for redump.org and their narrow list of plextor drives.

I was referring more to a way to actually use the dumps rather than the best (most accurate) way to make them .

That said, there are non-Plextor drives listed . TBH, it's hard to say which drives and which do not, considering that the only difference between a working and non working unit is the PCB revision . (I have a few LG BD-R units, maybe one of them is compatible) .

I also happen to have a working (for now) Plextor PX-716UF, so I guess I should start archiving my stuff while I still can .

Reply 11 of 28, by Zup

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I've dumped a test CD in MDF/MDS to check some programs, and the results are...
- Daemon Tools: My computer had an old version (5.x) and could not make a proper image. It stopped after encountering the first error, and I couldn't find any option to skip errors. I don't if it would work with later versions, but I didn't want to make another test.
- CDBurnerXP: The MDF file shas the same size as Alcohol one, but the contents are different and the MDS is shorter (less than 1k). I guess it didn't store information about errors.
- Alcohol 52% FE: As I said, the MDF is different; also the MDS is way bigger (about 21k).

Tomorrow I will install the game on a Virtual machine and check what images trigger the copy protection.

mr.cat wrote on 2021-02-13, 10:45:

According to redump.org, it's more a question of having a specific optical drive model.

I thought it was important only for burning, but when I used Alcohol to dump my test CD it said it couldn't get the DPM information. In this case is not important (an old CD that relied on about 5000 bad sectors, before DPM was used) but...

(BTW, I've bricked my BD writer, a BH16NS40... any suggestion?)

I have traveled across the universe and through the years to find Her.
Sometimes going all the way is just a start...

I'm selling some stuff!

Reply 12 of 28, by dr_st

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
Zup wrote on 2021-02-16, 07:02:

(BTW, I've bricked my BD writer, a BH16NS40... any suggestion?)

How did it happen?

https://cloakedthargoid.wordpress.com/ - Random content on hardware, software, games and toys

Reply 13 of 28, by mr.cat

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Zup wrote on 2021-02-16, 07:02:

- Daemon Tools: My computer had an old version (5.x) and could not make a proper image. It stopped after encountering the first error, and I couldn't find any option to skip errors. I don't if it would work with later versions, but I didn't want to make another test.
- CDBurnerXP: The MDF file shas the same size as Alcohol one, but the contents are different and the MDS is shorter (less than 1k). I guess it didn't store information about errors.
- Alcohol 52% FE: As I said, the MDF is different; also the MDS is way bigger (about 21k).

Thanks!
Did you take a closer look at the differences in MDF? It could be just different type of filler bytes being used by each software (for the sectors that couldn't be read).
For the MDS, it's a measurement of sorts, but what exactly is measured isn't clear to me (timing?). It's different for each drive, that much I know. But maybe there's even a difference between runs on the same drive and same software?

Zup wrote on 2021-02-16, 07:02:
mr.cat wrote on 2021-02-13, 10:45:

According to redump.org, it's more a question of having a specific optical drive model.

I thought it was important only for burning, but when I used Alcohol to dump my test CD it said it couldn't get the DPM information. In this case is not important (an old CD that relied on about 5000 bad sectors, before DPM was used) but...

But if you think about it, there is no requirement for a Plextor drive with copy-protected games . So *reading* should work with any drive.

Last edited by mr.cat on 2021-02-16, 09:52. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 14 of 28, by BardBun

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

ImgBurn to turn them into .iso files and everything is fine.

No need to use other stupid formats that you need like 4 different programmes to convert over and over to get a format that you can easily use on Windows / DOSBox / etc.

Reply 15 of 28, by mr.cat

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
BardBun wrote on 2021-02-16, 09:39:

ImgBurn to turn them into .iso files and everything is fine.

No need to use other stupid formats that you need like 4 different programmes to convert over and over to get a format that you can easily use on Windows / DOSBox / etc.

You don't own any game CDs do you?
I do tend to agree with that sentiment though, it's best to just use ISO whenever you can get away with it.
Producing an actual replicate seems like a non-trivial problem that may be more hassle than its worth to solve.
Even with MDF/MDS the result will not be the same as the original.

Reply 16 of 28, by 1541

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

You can't even use .iso if your game-CD contains audio tracks, like WarCraft II, Dungeon Keeper, Fury³ and many more...

Windows 98 SE inofficial Service Pack & NUSB (German)
Windows 9x device drivers and tools (German)

Reply 17 of 28, by BardBun

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
1541 wrote on 2021-02-16, 11:24:

You can't even use .iso if your game-CD contains audio tracks, like WarCraft II, Dungeon Keeper, Fury³ and many more...

Really?
I have a different game called Q-POP, the CD contains Audio that you can also play back in a real CD Player, works just fine as .iso as well.

Reply 18 of 28, by Jo22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Zup wrote on 2021-02-13, 18:21:
Jo22 wrote on 2021-02-13, 12:33:

Anyway, I noticed that some people don't like Nero, because it's too proprietary for their taste and favour *.CUE/.*.BIN stuff instead.. 😀

I'm one of those that doesn't like Nero, but mainly because after 5.x it went into a bloated mass of unnecessary features. IMHO, Nero 4.x or 5.x would be the best versions and I'd still use them... but they can't manage BDs.

Ah yes, I rememer.. Nero 6 (maybe 5.5 too) worked best for me. Nero 5.0 wa glitchy. It had trouble running on XP, I remember.

Zup wrote on 2021-02-13, 18:21:

I've been looking the wikipedia article about NRG, and I can't see how does it store DPM and/or "bad" sectors (if it can do it). Without that information, a Safedisc/SecuROM/Starforce image won't run... so I've discarded it as a mean to preserve CDs. Also, I think that CUE/BIN is a simpler, more supported way to store unprotected mixed-type CD-ROMs... and gives you the ability to use "alternate" formats to store sound tracks (but, to properly preserve it, you should refrain from use .ogg or .mp3 and stick to .bin or .flac format).

To be honest, I never thought about copy protection. 😅
My floppy images in *.img/*.ima can't hold these hacky protection schemes ala Sierra Onn-Line with physically damaged sectors (unknown state), either.
For this kind of stuff, someone would need a raw image (KryoFlux etc) that holds the analogue data of the spinning rust, I imagine.
So it was a non-issue to me. By "preservation", I rather thought of obscure/valuable stuff like old photos, tape recordings, shareware CD-ROMs, homebrew etc.
Commcercial title often have a No-CD crack, so it's not so bad, I guess. 😁

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 19 of 28, by Benedikt

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

I like to use the minimalist cdrdao.
It supports iso files as well as bin/toc and bin/cue pairs. The bin files can optionally be in raw mode with sub-channel data.

Another thing to keep in mind when backing up audio or mixed-mode CDs is that virtually all drives have a device-dependent read or write offset, meaning that the audio samples are shifted on the time axis.
There are large tables online where you can look up the specific offsets of you drive.
The relative read-write offset of a drive can also be determined by writing an audio track to CD and reading it back in.
This sample offset thing is something hardly anyone seems to be aware of, but you will immediately notice its presence when you backup a disk with audio data with different drives and compare the resulting binary data.
A program like cdparanoia lets you specify the read offset for the audio tracks.