DAEMON Tools Lite
Note: This review covers v4.35.6 of the software.
It's a real pain--not to mention slow--to continually swap CDs and DVDs out of your optical drive. It can take up to half a minute for your drive and Windows to mount a disc. Gamers who must leave a copy-protected disc in the drive in order to play a game are especially affected. Hence pay products such as AnyDVD and others that emulate a CD/DVD drive and allow you to mount disc images (files containing all the information from a disc) to a virtual drive. Fortunately for those on a budget, there's a free alternative: Daemon Tools Lite.
I've been using Daemon Tools for years for mounting Rosetta Stone language discs and the like, with nary a hint of a problem, though the bug list indicates that some people have at one time or another. But show me a program whose users haven't. The program hangs out in the system tray where you right-click on it to mount an image and change settings, or left-click to access an emulated drive (which are also available from Windows Explorer).
Daemon Tools won't mount every image type out there. For instance, it doesn't support Magic ISO, Power ISO, Easy Media Creator, or Ultra ISO files. However, you can usually find anything distributed in those formats in plain old, completely compatible .ISO if you look hard enough. Daemon Tools also supports .b5t, .b6t, and .bwt (BlindWrite), .ccd (CloneCD), .cdi (DiscJuggler), .cue (bin), .mds (Media Descriptor),. nrg (Nero), .pdi (Instant CD/DVD), and .isz (Compressed ISO) images as well as many types of copy-protection.
Daemon Tools Lite is free for personal use. However, commercial users are required to pay a fee. A pro version supports more emulated drives (32 as opposed to DT Lite's four), compression, creation of images and the GUI that DT Lite lacks. Daemon Tools Lite has a plug-in architecture and there are several add-ins available, including one that lets you create ISO images (yes, like the Pro version), as well as one to handle newer Securom copy-protected discs.
If you spend a lot of time swapping and hence waiting on CDs or DVDs to mount, Daemon Tools Lite is worth its weight in gold. Even if you don't, it's a program you should download to keep in your bag of tricks--you'll find a use for it eventually.
Note: This file is free for personal use only. Business users must buy the program for 15 Euros. This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi