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Backing up DOS era CD-ROM games?

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First post, by thecrankyhermit

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What software would you use to back up DOS CD-ROM games to ISO or similar files?

Some considerations - it needs to be able to handle a variety of file systems, including multiformat (some DOS era games came with Mac binaries on them which aren't visible to DOS or Windows, the software should be able to dump it all). Redbook support should go without saying. Freeware is preferred.

I like Imgburn, but it's failed far too often. Just now I tried backing up a DOS game disc, and Imgburn choked so hard that the disc drive wouldn't open, Explorer.exe froze up, and Windows wouldn't restart, so I had to hit the restart button on the PC. Then I tried Daemon Tools which created a nice little MDX file without complaint, but I do wonder if Daemon Tools got everything.

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Reply 1 of 41, by clueless1

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Try AnyBurn and CDBurnerXP.

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Reply 2 of 41, by Jorpho

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If ImgBurn won't do, I would go for IsoBuster. Unfortunately, the shareware version comes with some limitations, but it should be able to take care of most things.

I can't recall ever having a situation where the disc drive wouldn't open. Usually holding down the Eject button is sufficient to persuade things to get moving.

Reply 4 of 41, by Jo22

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The others already provided excellent choices..
But If you're facing trouble with multi-session discs, try Nero. I used Nero 5 to 7 for some time.
I think it is able to store both Mac and Windows filesystems into a single *.NRG file (if you are using its virtual recorder).
That's a proprietary file format, of course. But MagicIso and other programs can read it, so you could convert NRGs later on.
That beeing said, it is your choice. I'm sure there are other good formats, but I've never used them, so i can't recommend anything else.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 9 of 41, by Kisai

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1541 wrote:

How do you handle/archive copy protected CD's?
Will you also search for and store a no-CD patch or will you rely on a specific software e.g. Daeom Tools to to that for you?

Well, the first thing to mention is that if you know a game is copy-protected, you will not be able to make a perfect copy. Back in the late 90's the solution was dependent on the cd copier software being able to read the subchannels and not "correct" errors, which typically required SCSI hardware. That's how everything from DOS/Windows CD games to PS1 games were copied.

However, that does not defeat the copy protection, it just makes the disc "good enough" for PC/MAC CD-ROM's and PSX's able to read the disc. No-CD patches or mod-chips/gameshark devices were still required in the case of PSX games. Nero is what everyone used in 1998, along with CDRW hardware that supposed the instructions needed.

As for reasons to copy the games at all, anyone with kids will tell you that kids don't handle optical discs and magnetic disks carefully at all.

Personally, I never had a reason to copy cd's for personal backups, had relatives that tried to salvage game CD's that their kids had already ruined, and basically had to tell them that the discs were too scratched for the cd-burner to be able to read it. Edutainment software tended to be problematic.

Reply 10 of 41, by Roman78

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Kisai wrote:

Personally, I never had a reason to copy cd's for personal backups, had relatives that tried to salvage game CD's that their kids had already ruined, and basically had to tell them that the discs were too scratched for the cd-burner to be able to read it. Edutainment software tended to be problematic.

Well... I have to say that compact disks from the late 80's and early 90's start to failing do to the process they build back in the days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/cds-truth-cddvd- … evity-mold-rot/

Not to mention wrong handling and scratches.

Reply 11 of 41, by Myloch

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Nothing that a good session of clonecd, alcohol 120% or even blindwrite cannot defeat. The same I use for modern discs. Nero was popular in the late nineties/early 2000s but now it's meh...

"Gamer & collector for passion, I firmly believe in the preservation and the diffusion of old/rare software, against all personal egoisms"

Reply 13 of 41, by Kisai

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Roman78 wrote:
Well... I have to say that compact disks from the late 80's and early 90's start to failing do to the process they build back in […]
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Kisai wrote:

Personally, I never had a reason to copy cd's for personal backups, had relatives that tried to salvage game CD's that their kids had already ruined, and basically had to tell them that the discs were too scratched for the cd-burner to be able to read it. Edutainment software tended to be problematic.

Well... I have to say that compact disks from the late 80's and early 90's start to failing do to the process they build back in the days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/cds-truth-cddvd- … evity-mold-rot/

Not to mention wrong handling and scratches.

Ah yes, disc rot. Yeah that's more likely to affect the backup disc than the original. The laserdiscs were bad for it because they were two layers glued together, while a lot of first-generation CD and CD-R disks were damaged more by a misunderstanding of which side of the disc the actual bits were on, so people would place them on their desk label-side down. They bits are on the label side. If you scratch the label side, the disc is useless. If you scratch the reflective side, the CD-R can usually get past it.

Several of my first-generation CD-R discs have defects that resemble bronzing. Back then I mostly used CD-R's so I didn't have to re-download things from the internet since it took hours or days. Relative to now, I still have a stack of DVD-R discs I haven't used because the need to burn discs was replaced with re-downloading and saving to a USB stick/external drive if I need to move it to another machine. Pretty much every game I had on CD at some point I re-bought on GOG, but I'm disappointed in a few GOG downloads where they've used lossy audio instead of leaving the redbook audio tracks intact.

Reply 14 of 41, by Myloch

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Kisai wrote:

I'm disappointed in a few GOG downloads where they've used lossy audio instead of leaving the redbook audio tracks intact.

I've seen some Gog games and they all got winmm.dll + edited executable + redbook tracks converted to wave format. If they used mp3 or other lossy format for some releases, it's lame

"Gamer & collector for passion, I firmly believe in the preservation and the diffusion of old/rare software, against all personal egoisms"

Reply 15 of 41, by Rekrul

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Jorpho wrote:

I can't recall ever having a situation where the disc drive wouldn't open. Usually holding down the Eject button is sufficient to persuade things to get moving.

Really? It's happened to me quite often.

What typically happens is that I try to copy a file off a disc that has some kind of a problem. It gets to a certain point, the read speed drops to nothing, the drive audibly spins down and it just sits there doing nothing. If I don't cancel it and eject the disc within a certain time limit, everything goes off into limbo. I can't cancel the operation, the disc won't eject, etc. Sometimes I can get it to eject after killing the program with Tack Manager, but even then sometimes it still won't eject and I have to reboot.

Windows has always had very poor handling of optical discs.

Reply 16 of 41, by Jorpho

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Rekrul wrote:
Jorpho wrote:

I can't recall ever having a situation where the disc drive wouldn't open. Usually holding down the Eject button is sufficient to persuade things to get moving.

Really? It's happened to me quite often.

What typically happens is that I try to copy a file off a disc that has some kind of a problem. It gets to a certain point, the read speed drops to nothing, the drive audibly spins down and it just sits there doing nothing. If I don't cancel it and eject the disc within a certain time limit, everything goes off into limbo. I can't cancel the operation, the disc won't eject, etc. Sometimes I can get it to eject after killing the program with Tack Manager, but even then sometimes it still won't eject and I have to reboot.

Yes, that is very much the same situation I have seen occur – and usually, holding down the Eject button is the solution. It might take a while, like thirty seconds or more, but the drive ejects the disc and Windows resumes normally.

Windows has always had very poor handling of optical discs.

I think you will find Linux or even DOS will behave much the same. (Some versions of Windows did have a nasty habit of disabling UDMA entirely after encountering just one questionable disc, but that's a different matter.)

Reply 17 of 41, by firage

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DOS era CD checks didn't rely on anything fancy. A plain old ISO works just fine, and that means no subchannel data. One feature that they did occasionally include was audio tracks, and getting those right requires some strategy.

Regardless of drive, software and image format, I would read discs with audio tracks twice and compare to confirm identical results. Audio errors can go undetected, but they're extremely unlikely to read the exact same way twice in a row.
The less important second thing is drive offsets. Each model of optical drive starts reading/writing audio tracks at a slightly differening position, and the same is true in the original disc mastering/pressing process. There's a lack of a bit exact standard. My choice of image formats is based on the ability to read the images with identical results compared to the original discs, which is complicated by many image formats or their associated software introducing another variable with their own offsets. I've found MDF/MDS perfect for myself, but it is a proprietary image format whereas something open would be objectively preferable.

Copy protections started to crop up with increasing frequency around 1998-1999, and CD-RW drive manufacturers then raced with Safedisc and Securom for a few years before losing the battle around 2003-2004. Afterwards, software relied on meta data, emulating features that couldn't be burnt in a physical copy. Alcohol MDF/MDS does the job with protected discs, too, about as well as anything can. Also CloneCD, BlindWrite, etc.

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Reply 18 of 41, by FaSMaN

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The only CD based copy protection I can remember from the dos days was the fact that a lot of games checked the CD Label , if the Label didnt match you would get the dreaded "Insert disc" screen, FakeCD even had the ability to clone the label, but just like today the biggest problem with emulating a CD on a PC is the Audio Tracks.

As for what software was used in 95/98: CDRWin was the first one, I remember the fact that it had error skip meant you could finally make a copy of Red Alert, it was soon followed by Blindread+Blindwrite and finally superseded by CloneCD. Clonecd is still a good bet, Imgburn has a lot of issues reproducing mixed media CDRs as in disks with Data and Audio.

Reply 19 of 41, by Myloch

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Dos protections based on audio tracks? Are you sure?
I think they used redbook tracks just because it was the standard at the time, I never had any problem at making backup copies of data+audio cdroms, only subchannel data cannot be read accurately, I tried dumping same audiotracks several times and if the cd is in good shape, I always obtain identical result (same crc).

"Gamer & collector for passion, I firmly believe in the preservation and the diffusion of old/rare software, against all personal egoisms"