Home Backup Project - Part 4: Creating ISO images

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As part of the ongoing home backup project, I've tasked myself with converting all of my installation media to disk images (.iso files) so as to allow me to recover said media in the event that, say, my house blew up. Worst case scenario, I think. Anyway, I thought this would be really easy on my mac:

dd if=/dev/disk4 of=/path/to/new.iso

This always worked back in my I only run linux because windows users suck! days.

This created an unmountable file in both windows and os x. The unix gods have failed me! (In retrospect, I was probably forgetting a command line operator, or something, and therefore actually failing myself, but I digress...) I then thought that perhaps Roxio Toast Titanium would make my day, but to no avail. The solutions I had in front of me evaporated rapidly.

I did some quick googling and found MagicISO, but it's !(free), and I'm trying to do (most of) this on the cheap. Some more research led me to two tools:

Each seems to create ISOs from CD fairly well. So far, WarCraft III backed up nicely enough for me to install off of the ISO image on my Parallels VM, so that's confidence inspiring. On the other hand, I received some very weird errors reading one of the Unreal II disks, so neither of these may be a perfect solution as I checked the disk itself and it's fine.

However, both of these programs are wicked old... VaporCD was last updated six years ago and hasn't been tested on XP at all. There's got to be a free-ish, newer solution for this somewhere. Perhaps I just haven't stumbled across it yet. Rather than continue stumbling, I kept playing around with both and determined they were, for the most part, crap. Plain and simple.

I'd like this fact to explain their free-ness, but all of the mozilla apps are free (as in beer) and they rock my socks off, so that's right out. (I mean no insult to the developers of either of the above applications. To be frank, I expected something fairly more useful than dd, but my hopes were dashed. End rant.)

I asked for some advice at work and everyone said "Go download MagicISO." So... I did. And it's so much better. It meant "spending $30," but it's fast, and doesn't choke on minor block corruption due to surface scratches, and it's... fast.

Really, really fast.

I blew through all of my games and OS install CDs (about 25 total CDs) in under 90 minutes and just let it run in the background while doing other work. I finished up the rest of my disks the next day, which brought this phase of the "things to do before I get to do what I've been wanting to do" to a very quick close.

Sometimes you just have to "pay" for software. Gasp!

Oct 22nd, 2007