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Optical media scratches. It’s also susceptible to various degradations if not handled and stored correctly CDs Are Not Forever: The Truth About CD/DVD Longevity, "Mold" & "Rot" CDs Are Not Forever: The Truth About CD/DVD Longevity, "Mold" & "Rot" The digital age has revolutionized the way we handle information. Never before could humankind record and store so much information and in such diversity. While the amount of data has increased exponentially, the predicted life... Read More . And because games on CD and DVD usually come in boxes with some nice extras, it’s useful for long-term value (monetary and usefulness) if the discs are used sparingly.

And that’s before we even get started on the now-discredited DRM What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More and its ill-conceived anti-piracy measures.

This is where No-CD cracks for CD and DVD come in handy. But are they still around, and why use them when alternative solutions are simpler?

Why Play Without a CD/DVD?

Sticking a gaming CD or DVD into your PC or laptop’s optical drive might not seem overly complex, but it can prove inconvenient, if not impossible. From DRM to hardware changes, the use of CDs and DVDs for installing games is slowly decreasing, as more and more gamers embrace digital distribution 4 Reasons The Digital Distribution Of Video Games Will Make Your Life Better [MUO Gaming] 4 Reasons The Digital Distribution Of Video Games Will Make Your Life Better [MUO Gaming] Video games are going digital; it is a fact that we cannot avoid. The chances are great that the next console generation will allow gamers to buy all of their games by downloading them directly... Read More .

While playing without a CD might be useful to video game pirates, it has other uses.

For instance, you might have a game with a scratched — and therefore useless — CD/DVD. After paying $40+ for the game, you probably want to get your money’s worth. While publishers have often provided replacement media in these situations in the past, it’s not a sustainable plan of action. If a publisher goes bust, the best you can do is head to eBay to look for a replacement.

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Then there’s the changing pattern of hardware. An ever-declining piece of hardware in portable computers (notebooks, ultrabooks, etc.) is the optical (CD/DVD) drive. Moving parts mean extra weight and battery drain, so it makes sense. However, it means that to install a game from disc, you’ll need an external optical reader No DVD Drive on Your Tablet or Notebook? Use an Old Laptop Drive Instead! No DVD Drive on Your Tablet or Notebook? Use an Old Laptop Drive Instead! More and more Windows computers are shipping without optical drives, and this is a phenomenon that exists beyond the tablet PC. The lack of a DVD drive might prevent you from installing your favourite apps... Read More . You don’t want to carry this around with you either, which means a no-CD crack is required for on-the-go gaming.

And, finally, you might just want to keep your game disc for admiring. More and more games are being released as premium versions with $100 bonus packs, often providing statuettes and attire alongside the game media and some in-game unlock codes. To keep the pack together, you might prefer not to use the disc. In most cases, digital distribution services would come in handy here, but there are still a few titles floating about that require the disc.

How a No-CD Crack Works

No-CD cracks work in a variety of ways.

It usually involves first installing the game, them looking for a registry entry, DLL (domain-link library), executable crack file, or a replacement EXE for the original game, or a combination of any of these. The new files are then added to the game directory on the hard disk drive (if any are duplicating existing files, these should be backed up) in order to make the game run without the disc.

While painted as a straightforward solution, it can get messy, especially if you’re a newcomer. It’s all too easy to find you’ve downloaded the wrong file, or deleted a vital file from the game directory. In most cases instructions are given, however, so make sure you take the time to read and re-read the steps before starting.

2 Safe Places You Can Find a No-CD Crack

Once upon a time, finding No-CD cracks was a dangerous pastime. Online resources were full of NSFW ads, popups and malware risks How Not To Get Stung By Any Dodgy Malware-Ridden Downloads How Not To Get Stung By Any Dodgy Malware-Ridden Downloads But if you want to avoid the viruses, malware, crapware, and bloatware, then you need to be ultra-cautious about your download sources. So where can you download free software safely? Read More . Fortunately, things have been tidied up somewhat as trends have developed. While there is scant use for no-CD cracks on modern games, some sites still offer them for older games.

GameCopyWorld

Patches, fixes, trainers (offering unlimited health/ammo/etc) and No-CD/No-DVD cracks are available here, although the focus has shifted in recent years to trainers. A useful search tool on the right, however, will let you browse the site for older games available on optical disc, and any associated No-CD patches and EXEs.

GameBurnWorld

The similarly-named GameBurnWorld, meanwhile, tends to focus almost exclusively on trainers, but if you go digging you should find No-CD and No-DVD patches for older titles. Also available here are mini-tutorials and utilities to help you to create copies of your game media. This can be a useful alternative to using the original discs.

Why Are You Even Buying CDs?

Unless you’re picking up the game CD/DVD from a bargain bucket, or they’re limited edition boxes (as described above) then really is no reason to waste time with physical media in this day and age. The overwhelming majority of video games are available as digital downloads, mostly via Steam (although alternatives are available Tired of Steam? Here Are the Best Alternative Gaming Clients Tired of Steam? Here Are the Best Alternative Gaming Clients Not everybody wants to use Steam! Want to know what else you can use? Here are a list of safe alternatives in gaming distribution websites and platforms! Read More ). Better still, Steam enables you to add CD keys from many older games into your Steam library, thereby running the title without the disc.

As great as it is to have physical media for your PC games, its time has almost passed. Forget about the ritual of opening the box, admiring the disc and the artwork, and popping the media into the optical drive. This is now a thing of the past.

Instead, all you need is a double click to launch the game from your desktop, with the minimum of fuss.

What do you think? Is this a good development, or does it strip games of their cultural importance when physical art cannot be admired as part of the experience? Do you use No-CD cracks, or have you abandoned them for Steam and other solutions? Tell us in the comments.

Originally written by Simon Slangen on 30 April 2010.

Image Credit: maradon 333 via Shutterstock.com

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