Virtual CD Management
by Alan German
In order to
be able to load topographical maps from a tablet computer
onto a hand-held GPS unit, I needed to install Garmin's
MapSource program, and the associated maps, onto the
tablet. However, while the tablet had a USB port, it
didn't have an optical drive and, of course, the software
was available as a set of CD's.
Installing the mapping program, and some of the maps, was
mostly straightforward. I simply copied the relevant CD's
to a USB flash drive and installed the software directly
from the USB. However, the Canadian topographical maps
proved to be a challenge. The relevant installation
program ran fine from the USB, but then insisted on me
inserting the appropriately numbered CD!
A Google search identified many users who had experienced
the same issue, and one of the suggested workarounds was
to create ISO files of the CD's, use software to load
these files into a virtual CD drive, and then use this as
the installation medium.
The next trick was to find a freeware package to
accomplish this. My initial attempts weren't too
fruitful. My favourite CD burner (on a desktop computer
running Windows 7 and having a "real" CD drive)
didn't want to create ISO files of the map CD's. Then, a
program that would create the necessary ISO files on the
Windows 7 machine, wouldn't run under Windows 8 so that
the ISO files couldn't be mounted on its virtual CD drive
on the tablet.
Eventually, I tracked down Gizmo Central which includes
the ability to create ISO files from CD's, and to mount
the resulting images on a virtual CD drive. Since I only
needed these two features of the program, I opted to only
install the core Gizmo Central utility and the companion
Gizmo Drive module.
Although nominally having been written for Windows 7, the
package also installed and ran flawlessly under Windows
The utility offers several additional functions,
including the ability to customize the program's user
interface (the Gizmo Toolbar). Without doing any
customization, the user interface is a little strange. A
window pops-up in the lower-right corner of the display
and provides the option to run Gizmo Manager. The
resulting Start Screen includes the options to
"Create ISO from disk" and "Mount ISO,
BIN, VHD to virtual drive". These two options
satisfied my requirements and so I opted to simply run
these and not bother customizing the user interface.
Using the program in this way is extremely simple.
Choosing to create an ISO file, pops up a dialogue box
which selects the available optical drive by default, and
provides the option to browse for, and name, the
resulting ISO file. Similarly, when mounting an existing
ISO file, the program has ten pre-defined virtual drives
(Device 1 through Device 10) and so it is simply a matter
of selecting one of these drives, pressing the
"Mount Image" button, and browsing for the
required ISO file.
letter (e.g. drive F:) to be used for the virtual CD can
be selected from a drop-down menu of available options.
Another control allows selection of the action to be
taken once the virtual CD is mounted, such as running the
AutoPlay file, launching Windows Explorer, or doing
So, the beauty of this system is that the ISO file can be
created on a machine equipped with an optical drive,
copied to a USB flash drive, and mounted on a tablet
computer as a virtual drive with a specific drive letter.
In my case, I could then run the setup program to install
the topo. maps from this virtual drive. The installation
process runs normally since, instead of a series of CD's
(Disk 1 through Disk 4) being loaded into a physical
drive, the associated ISO image files are mounted
sequentially as the assigned virtual drive.
Gizmo Central is a useful utility for machines that don't
have a physical optical drive. Create an ISO file of any
CD on a machine equipped with an optical drive and then
mount the resulting image as a virtual CD drive on a
netbook or tablet computer. The contents of the CD can be
displayed, individual file and folders copied, and
executable programs run - all from a virtual copy of the
Gizmo Central (Freeware)
Arainia Solutions LLC
Originally published: June, 2015
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.