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When I was 11 years old or so, I made copies of my Web 0.9 websites onto CDs among other original content.

Now I'm 25 years old, I had forgotten about the CDs and the content still has sentimental value. I would like to get rid of that stack of (decaying) physical CDs while creating backups of the content on other physical forms (local hard drive, USB sticks, remote server...).

To copy from the CD into the hard drive, I'm using simple copy and paste because initially I didn't want to bother dealing with ISO images, I am interested in backups of the content and the files timestamps, not having a 1:1 binary copy of CDs or a huge ISO file since most of the files are redundant or contain useless large files.

I messed up and I totally forgot I used to make multisession CDs, which is the act of burning onto the same CD multiple times. Here's why I'm asking the question:

One time I was messing around with a CD and tried out the "Create ISO" option on Windows 7 for the sake of curiosity. Turns out:

  • The ISO contained a backup of an AOL installation with all of its files corrupt, and nothing else.
  • When browsing the CD with Windows Explorer, the AOL files were nowhere to be found. There were only personal files, not corrupt.

This baffled me how there was potentially invisible files to the file browser.

There is a likelihood the OS on which the images were burned on were either Windows 98 or Windows XP. I do not remember.

Based on the above description of the situation and the fact that information about the how the CDs were burned were forgotten over time:

  • Did I interpret something wrong? (i.e. the invisible files may be in fact erased content?)
  • Is there a reason this is happening on Windows 7 (bad driver, missing CD metadata)? Is there a feature on Windows 7 that would allow me to browse the "invisible" content natively in the file browser?
  • Can I retrieve all the contents of the CD without having to create a CD image, preferably in a native way?
  • I assume the "recommended" way to backup the files would be to create a CD image using whatever software, then extracting the files out of the CD image. Please correct me if I am wrong, and add recommendations if there are precautions to take in the process of doing it for multisession CDs. I am not looking for software recommendations, unless my use case is so particular I would need to be pointed towards specific software.

(Following this I noticed how certain CDs/DVDs I have showed up as blank to Windows which asked me if I wanted to write on it, whereas the surface of the disc indicated it was written on. I still wonder if there are invisible files on these discs, or if the disc has rotted, or if it's just a failed burn I forgot to throw away)

The question is not about how to create a CD image. It is about the proper handling of multisession CDs content retrieval in a non professional environment.

  • how this worked in Windows XP is different then how it works in WIndows 7. Windows 98 didn't have the native capability to burn disks. – Ramhound May 19 '15 at 16:00
  • I remember using a Explorer shell extension from Nero that exposed different tracks on hybrid discs in Win9x. Windows has never allowed this by default AFAIK. – Karan May 19 '15 at 17:50
1

I recommend IsoBuster to pull all your data out from multi-session discs, packet written discs, hybrid discs or even damaged discs. Other than the last use case you can copy the data without creating an image.

1

The Pro version's not free but you can click the "Free Functionality" button when prompted during install and see if it suffices.

  • Data recovery from all possible CD, DVD and Blu Ray (BD & HD DVD) formats: CD-i, VCD, SVCD, SACD, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-R, CD-RW, CD-MRW, DVD-ROM, DVCD, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+MRW, DVD+R Dual Layer, DVD-R Dual Layer, DVD+RW Dual Layer, DVD+VR, DVD+VRW, DVD-VR, DVD-VRW, DVD-VM, DVD-VFR, BD-ROM, BD-R, BD-R DL, BD-RE, BD-RE DL, BD-R SRM, BD-R RRM, BD-R SRM+POW, BD-R SRM-POW, BDAV, BDMV HD DVD-ROM, HD DVD-R, HD DVD-R DL, HD DVD-RW, HD DVD-RW DL, HD DVD-RAM, HD DVD-Video, ...
  • All device access, media access, data gathering and interpretation is done exclusively by the software. It does not rely on Windows to provide or interpret the data and so can work completely independent from Windows' limitations.
  • Better error handling and several retry-mechanisms to aid you in getting the data anyway.
  • The use of both generic and alternative ways to get to the data, get the best out of your CD/DVD-ROM drive.
  • The use of primary and secondary file systems to get to the data and/or make use of file system data that might be ignored or 'forgotten' by popular OS. Explore the alternatives.
  • CDs stay 'readable' after problems (such as Buffer Under-run,...).
  • Read / Extraction from open sessions.
  • All sessions, including older ones, are accessible and can be recovered.
  • Supports mounting several virtual sessions inside a single DVD+RW or DVD-RW track.
  • Read and Extraction of files, CD/DVD images, tracks and sessions from all optical media.
  • Scanning for lost UDF files and folders.
  • Scanning for lost ISO9660 / Joliet sessions.
  • Scanning for files based on their file-signature.
  • Scanning for IFO / BUP / VOB file systems on VIDEO and AUDIO DVDs.
  • Find lost data on CDs, DVDs, BDs or HD DVDs, created with integrated drag and drop applications, otherwise also known as packet writing software. Optimized, but not exclusive, for: * Roxio Direct CD, Roxio Drag-to-Disc * Ahead / Nero InCD * Prassi / Veritas / Sonic DLA * VOB / Pinnacle Instant-Write * CeQuadrat Packet CD * NTI FileCD * BHA B's CLiP * Microsoft Windows XP, VISTA, 7, 8 * Sony abCD, ...
  • Support for Direct CD compressed files. Decompression on the fly.
  • Support for Microsoft's Live File system.
  • Built in UDF Reader, UDF 1.02 (e.g DVDs), UDF 1.5 (e.g. Packet writing on CD-R, DVDR, CD-RW and DVDRW), UDF 2.01, 2.50, 2.60 (e.g. BD-R SRM+POW),...

and much more...

Last but not least, if one particular optical drive doesn't read your discs properly, try with another. Drives from multiple manufacturers (and sometimes even models from the same manufacturer with different firmware) definitely exhibit varying characteristics when it comes to reading/writing discs. The age of the drive also does matter.

  • Multi-session is not free. – Shimmy Sep 14 '16 at 21:37

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