With special thanks to bcn_246 from Club MyCE for showing how to make backup copies of original, protected discs.
If you have the original copy of "Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings" (AoK) and its expansion "Age of Empires II: The Conquerors" (AoC), I guess you thought of making a backup at least once for all these years. Discs may scratch or become unreadable over time, or may even get lost (we all have friends that tend to forget returning things ), forcing you to buy the game again. It`s pretty cheap, true, but there may be a better solution - a backup copy, and yes, it`s possible to copy your original CD so it stays original (no need for cracks) - it`s fine when you do it for your personal use, while sharing these copies may be considered software piracy and it`s against the law in many countries around the world.
Back on subject, if you own original AoK/AoC discs, and would like to make backup copies just in case (or you would like to avoid putting the CD in every time you want to play), here`s a way to do it.
Making local backup (image)
First, we`ll need a program called "Alcohol 120%" (15 day trial full version can be obtained from official site, here). Once you install it, it will make a new, virtual CD/DVD drive (which may be used to "mount" virtual CD/DVD, so called "image", so you don`t have to put it in your real CD/DVD player each time you want to play).
Next, you`ll need original AoK/AoC discs (you do need those if you want to back them up ). Put them in your CD/DVD player (one by one, please), and repeat these step for each one of them:
- 1) Start "Alcohol 120%".
2) Click "Image Making Wizard".
3) Set all options like this:
Note: "CD/DVD Device" will be your CD/DVD device (it doesn`t have to be (F:) drive letter, it should be the letter of your CD/DVD device). "Read Speed" may be set to higher value (up to maximum), but slower speed usually means better copy (very important if we want to get exact copy of the original disc). Make sure "Datatype" is set to "SafeDisc".
- 4) Click "Next", change any settings if needed, and click "Start".
Once the image making is over, you`ll end up with original copy of your AoK/AoC disc(s). Feel free to remove the disc from your real CD/DVD device.
You may now put your backups ("mount" them) into "Alcohol 120%" program using "File" > "Open", then selecting created image (.mds) files and clicking "Open". When they show up in the main program window list, just double click the desired disc (AOE2 or AGE2_X1, or whatever you named them) and it will be mounted in the virtual drive, starting the game (autorun). Because we made original copies along with SafeDisc protection, you won`t need any cracks to play the game as long as you have the correct disc inserted in "Alcohol 120%"`s virtual drive.
... you can finally put those CDs to rest a bit
But, what if something happens with backuped files on your hard drive, what if you want to write them to another CD and keep them that way? It is possible, too.
Burning backup dics(s)
To write another original CD (an exact backup copy of your original CD), put a blank CD in your CD/DVD writer and follow these steps (one blank CD per game disc, and one at a time, please):
- 1) Start "Alcohol 120%".
2) Click "Image Burning Wizard".
3) Click "Browse" and choose the image (.mds file) you would like to burn to blank disc, click "Next".
4) Make sure you set writing options like this:
Note: "CD/DVD Recorder" will be your CD/DVD device (it doesn`t have to be (F:) drive letter, it should be the letter of your CD/DVD device). "Write Speed" may be set to higher value (up to maximum), but slower speed usually means better copy (very important if we want to get exact copy of the original disc). Make sure "Write Method" is set to "RAW DAO", and "Datatype" to "SafeDisc".
- 5) Click "Start".
When the program finishes, you`ll have a perfect 1:1 copy of your original AoK/AoC disc(s), which you may use in order to protect your original discs from damaging. Just remember, making backups for personal use is fine (as you do own original disc), but sharing copied CDs around is a software piracy...