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Backup Protected Game CD/DVDs
Index
Introduction

The previous The Best CD-Reader article was totally outdated as we now know more about the SafeDisc & SecuROM protections than back when it was written. There for we've created this article on how to make a working backup of a Protected Game CD or when this is not possible, because of hardware limitation, to at least be able to play a Protected Game CD from an imperfect backup.

It is still possible to create working Backups of most Copy Protected game CDs without the use of additional patches. The only thing required is a CD-Reader & CD-Writer which can read & write RAW DAO & Sub-Channel Data and software which supports writing in RAW Mode with Sub-Channel Data.

These software packages are:

When it is not possible to select the RAW Mode then most likely the CD-Reader or CD-Writer does not support this mode. It is however still possible to make a backup but additional tools are required to remove the actually protection (see Non RAW Backups).

Identifying a CD/DVD Protection

There are a few utilities available which can identify which CD Protection is being used on your game CDs.

Here is a complete overview of these tools, available @ CD Media World:

  • CD Protection Detective
  • CD Protection Detector
  • CD Protection Scout
  • CloneCD Database
  • Clony XXL
  • Copy Protection Detection
  • PC CopyBase
  • Protection ID
  • TCCD
  • YaPS
  • The best tool available is Protection ID as it detects all available CD protections & is updated regularly! Clony XXL is also a good alternative but is not updated anymore!

    Non RAW Backups

    If your CD-Writer/Reader does not support RAW writing/Reading then it is not possible to make a 100% working standalone backup but it is still possible to play a backup using these utilities:

    Executable Unwrappers
    These tools are able to remove the CD Protection from the main executable which starts the game. 

    Protection Emulators
    These tools run in the background and intercept calls from the CD Protection to the CD-Reader, to check if the original CD is in the reader, and always tell that everything is ok. 
    NOTE: The creators of the SafeDisc protection have added a "blacklist" feature into their protection to detect if one of the above Protection Emulators is active in memory. This can be the reason that a game is not working (even original CD's), just upgrade to the latest version (if available) or temporarily disable the emulator!

    For example MaxPayne v1.01 was blacklisting DAEMON Tools v2.74 & PlayBackup v2.1. The MaxPayne blacklist problem was again fixed in DAEMON Tools v2.79. But keep in mind that this process will happen over and over again. It's just a cat & mouse game with every new version of the SafeDisc v2/v3 protection!

    CD-Writers supporting RAW DAO & Sub-Channel Data

    Most of the Philips, Lite-On & Plextor CD-Writers can handle any CD Protection, a lot of CD-Writer manufacturers have been using Philips drives in their own drives so these will also work fine. Here is an overview of the Philips CD-Writers to date:

    Here are a few websites which go deeper into this matter:

    Alcohol 120% Backup Instructions
    Here are the instructions to make a working backup of most Protected CDs using Alcohol 120% in combination with a CD-Reader/CD-Writer which can both can handle RAW DAO:
    • First identify which CD/DVD protection is being used on your Game CD/DVD (see Identifying a CD/DVD Protection).
    • Startup Alcohol 120%.
    • From the [Main] Menu click "Copy Wizard".
    • Select the CD/DVD Device from which the Game CD is being read.
    • Select the CD/DVD protection from the Datatype pull-down button at the bottom of the window.
      This will auto-configure Alcohol 120% for the optimum backup settings.
    • When ready Click the [Next >] button.
    • Select "Image Location" where the Game CD Image should be stored.
    • When ready Click the [Next >] button.
    • Select the "CD/DVD Recorder" to which the CD Image will be written to.
      All settings are again auto-configured for the optimum backup settings.
    • When ready Click the [Start] button.
    • Play the game!
    NOTE: Keep in mind that some CD/DVD protections, like TAGES & StarForce, can NOT be backed up.
    CloneCD Backup Instructions

    Here are the instructions to make a working backup of most Protected CDs using CloneCD 4 in combination with a CD-Reader/CD-Writer which can both can handle RAW DAO:

    • Create the following directory (if it exists already empty it):
      • <TempDir>:  C:\TEMP\CD
    • Create a CD-Image using CloneCD 4 with these Game CD settings:
      • Data Read Settings Tab:
        • Set Read Speed Data to 1x (176 kByte/s)
        • Select Read SubChannel Data from Data Tracks (default)
        • Select Regenerate Data Sectors (default)
      • Audio Read Settings Tab:
        • Set Read Speed Audio to 1x (176 kByte/s)
        • Set Audio Extraction Quality to Medium (Fast) (default)
        • Select Read SubChannel Data from Audio Tracks (default)
        • UnSelect Only read the first Session (default)
      • Error Handling Tab:
        • Set Fast Error Skip to Automatic (default)
        • Set Sector Skip to 100 (default)
        • UnSelect Abort on Read Error (default)
        • Select Don't report read errors (default)
        • Select Intelligent Bad Sector Scanner (default)
    • When ready burn the modified CD-Image a CD-R using CloneCD 4 with these Game CD settings:
      • Set Write Speed to any desired speed
      • Select Don't Repair SubChannel Data (default)
      • Select Always close last Session
    • Play the game!

    Here are the instructions to make a working backup of most Protected CDs using CloneCD 3 in combination with a CD-Reader/CD-Writer which can both can handle RAW DAO:

    • Create the following directory:
      • <TempDir>:  C:\TEMP\CD
    • Create a CD-Image using CloneCD 3 with these settings:
      • Set Read Speed to 1x (176 kByte/s)
      • Select Read SubChannel Data from Data Tracks
      • Select Read SubChannel Data from Audio Tracks
      • Select Fast Error Skip
        • Set Read Retry to at least 5
        • Set Error correction to None
      • UnSelect Don't report bad sectors
      • UnSelect Intelligent Bad Sector Scanner
    • When ready burn the CD-Image a CD-R using CloneCD 3 with these settings:
      • Set Write Speed to any desired speed
      • Select RAW DAO
      • Select Don't Repair SubChannel Data
      • UnSelect Simulate Writing (if available)
      • Select Burn Proof/Just Link (if available)
      • unSelect Perform Laser Power Calibration
      • unSelect Wait until Buffers are full
      • Select Always close last Session
    • Play the game!
    NOTE: CloneCD v4 includes a CloneCD Tray utility which is active when your startup your PC. This utility includes a feature Hide CDR Media which can be very helpful when playing a backup from a CD-Writer. Some games try to detect if they are run from a CD-R media and this tool let's them think it is an original CD.

    Keep in mind that some CD/DVD protections, like TAGES & StarForce, can NOT be backed up.

    Backup Hints

    Here are some general hints when making a 1:1 CD-Copy:

    • Use your CD-Writer to also read the CD-Image - In most cases the CD-Writer can handle more protections!
    • To avoid coasters always make a CD-Image on harddrive before writing it to a CD-R.
    • Read the CD-Image at 1x or at a maximum of 8x speed. Reading the CD-Image at 1x speed takes a long time to complete but it is the safest speed to correctly read the image from any CD-Reader. Most modern CD-Readers can handle faster speeds. Just experiment!
    • CD-Writer software like Adaptec Easy CD Creator will NEVER be able to copy protected CDs and in most cases only interferes with other CD-Writers software! Software like CloneCD, Nero & CDRWIN are far better products!
    Additional CD-Checks
    The instructions shown on this page only show how to remove a CD-Protection, like SafeDisc or SecuROM, from the main executable but most of the games also have a CD-Check in the main executable. In this case the original or backup CD is required to play the game. No-CD Patches are needed to bypass the additional CD-Check(s), these are available at GameCopyWorld.
    Older Protection Tools
    Here are a few older protections tools for:

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