A lot of different types of software can be used to enhance or act like CD drives. Even though such software is highly related to each other, and in some cases some pieces may depend on the existance of other pieces (such as a CD device driver and a filesystem driver, which are both needed to get an accessible, mounted file system from data read from a drive), the separate pieces are located in separate sections on this site.

This is because different pieces happen to best fit in different sections on this site. For example, it makes sense to have resources for the ISO 9660 file system near software for other file systems. It was deemed desirable that the appropriate little pieces be found if those best-matching sections were searched. The results of organizing things this way is that for CD drives, quite specifically, there is a lot of hyperlinking to various sections, and so multiple pages may be needed for some fairly simple tasks. The alternative would be to duplicate a lot of information onto a CD-specific page, or to re-organize CD-relevant content so that other pages reference the appropriate section of CD-centric pages. That likely would have made the CD-specific section swell to be quite large, and so the decision was made to just accept the hyperlinking in order to be consistant with the organization used elsewhere on this site.

Having given this explanation, please accept an apology right now for the excessive hyperlinking that one is probably going to experience, and possibly has already started to experience, if this page is being viewed. Sorry.

Having said that, here's a quick guide to help find some of the various types of software related to optical discs:

Some common tasks may include reading data, writing data, Tasks may include: Reading data, writing data, playing audio CD music

[#rodriver]: Drivers: Read-only
DOS CD-ROM drivers

This is a list of the hardware drivers. A software extention like MSCDEX will also be needed. (See File System drivers page's ISO 9660 section.)

Solutions that work with ATAPI IDE CD-ROM drives (which are the most common type) include the following. (Some may not work as well with CD Audio, especially if having multiple drives and SHSUCDX / NWCDEX).

Some more information comparing the memory requirements may be documented here at a future time.

(This section could use a little bit of clean-up.)

Intro/overview

As I recall, I liked TEAC. I think VIDE may have been slightly better, like using less memory. (Although I'm writing this based on vague memories of years ago.) However, whichever driver used a bit less memory also had some disadvantage. For instance, audio didn't work as well with SJGPlay for DOS (available from a hyperlink provided by playing CD audio). The issues might have only happened when using some alternative filesystem driver (e.g., SHSUCDX).

I hadn't experimented much with Jack R. Ellis's drivers, mainly because they were newer than my experiments. They may be even better.

So, this site is not currently offering a single simple straightforward recommendation of one specific solution. Experimentation may be recommended. If data is successfully read by a CD, don't conclude that the best solution has been discovered until CD audio is also verified to be working well (unless you sipmly don't care about CD audio).

Jack R. Ellis's drivers

Jack R. Ellis contributed several drivers.

The newest ones might be: XMGR/RDISK/UIDE from March 5th 2015, which FreeDOS's page on UIDE describes as “the last open source version released by Ellis before UIDE became closed source.”

Others have been released. These might simply be older versions:

QCDROM
Jack R. Ellis software (at Ibiblio) QCDROM http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/qcdrom.html
http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/file/qcdrom42.zip
( Old URL for QCDROM describing why author made file not work with FreeDOS. Also true for other applications like SHSUCDX. )
http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/qdma.html
QCDROM V2.6 - DOS UltraDMA CDROM Driver (download). Supports UltraDMA. The web page says "can run one or two CD-ROM or DVD drivers" but the bundled README.TXT says it can support up to three. In addition to supporting faster method through UltraDMA, documentation says it uses 2368 bytes. It seems that speed improvement can be obtained with QDMA
QDMA version V4.0 was the last to work with FreeDOS.
http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/qdma.html
eventually became known as
"QCACHE V5.7 (QDMA merged with QCACHE) - DOS UltraDMA Disk Driver / Cache"
XCDROM
http://johnson.tmfc.net/freedos (UPDATED) XCDROM - Ultra-DMA CD-ROM DOS driver Directory with Version 2.2. The documentation had at least sections that read very similar to the newer QCDROM driver's. "xcdrom.sys (GPL, by Jack R Ellis, expected somewhere in 2006)"
Another option?
http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/ (Is part of FreeDOS maybe?)
VIDE
http://www.benq.com/drivers/storage_drivers.html (Old BenQ URL is now 404)
BenQ's USA site has drivers section. BenQ's "Service & Support" page lets one choose Drivers for Optical Storage devices. Choosing a CD-ROM may then lead to being able to download "Self-extracting ZIP file containing device driver file for MS-DOS Only , setup program, and readme files in five languages (English, Spanish, German, Italian, and French)." The linked to file, APICD214.EXE (version 2.14), a self-extracting zip file, contains VIDE-CDD.SYS (and PKZip 2.04g).
Teac

Now invalid URL
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/cdrom_drives/ide_cd-rom_drivers.htm (Teac Desktop IDE CD-ROM Drivers) page used to points to a URL (that became invalid first) for TEAC_CDI DOS driver ( http://www.teac.com/DSPD/downloads/drivers/68edos11.exe ).

Fortunately a forum post linked to the right URL for Teac drivers.

Also available is documentation.
(That link goes through archive.org.)
(Copy of file, unmodified, has been saved locally.)

http://www.teac.com/consumer_electronics/CDPlayers_And_Recorders.html
TEAC Logo
TEAC page

Clicking on "support" went to: TEAC America's Technical Support Center page, where HTML source led to link to Internal/External CD-ROM Drives

(also links for:
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/dt_dvdr_drives/ide_dvdr.htm">DVD Recorder Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/sl_ide_dvd_cdrw/dvd_cdrw_combo.htm">Slim Line DVD-ROM / CD-RW Drive Combo,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/dvd_drives/dvd_drives.htm">DVD-ROM Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/dt_ide_cdrw/ide_cdrw.htm">Desktop Internal IDE CD-RW Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/sl_ide_cdrw/sl_ide_cdrw.htm">Slim Line Internal IDE CD-RW Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/usb_cdrw/usb_cdrw.htm">USB CD-RW Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/pcmcia_cdrw/pcmcia_cdrw.htm">PCMCIA CD-RW Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/firewire_cdrw/firewire_cdrw.htm">FireWire CD-RW Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/scsi_cdrw/scsi_cdrw.htm">SCSI Internal CD-RW Drives,
http://www.teac.com/DSPD/support/scsi_cdr/scsi_cdr.htm">Internal/External CD-R Drives,
and some other drive types that didn't sound like optical drives)

GCDROM
"SATA Native IDE CD/DVD-ROM driver for DOS from Giga-Byte Technology" with source code derived from XCDROM. Executable (available locally), source (available locally, zipped in gcdrm23s.zip)
AtapiCDD
http://wiki.fdos.org/Main/AtapiCDD http://www.mail-archive.com/freedos-devel@lists.sourceforge.net/msg00262.html http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/atapichk.exe http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/atapichk.c http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/atapichk.mak ATAPI code based on public domain C code from Hale Landis' ATADRVR ATAPICDD.SYS ATAPICDD.SYS v0.2.14 16-bit Universal DOS mode IDE/ATAPI CD/DVD drive http://www.msfn.org/board/ipb_seo.php?url= http%3A%2F%2Fwww.darklogic.org%2Ffdos%2Fprojects%2Fatapicdd%2Fatapicdd.0.2.14.zip http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/pnp/isapnp125.zip http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/atapicdd.0.2.14.zip

ATAPICDD.SYS (found from a collection on grc site) Documentation

forum post saying source is on fdos site: http://fdos.sourceforge.net/ refers to http://www.fdos.org but it is better to visit http://sourceforge.net/projects/fdos/. From the CVS. TOOGAM has placed atapicdd directory's files in atap216s (atapicdd 2.16 source) zip file.

Toshiba CD-ROM dirver, needs 6K, supports spindown-timing
Described here: description
USB_CD
Text file and System file that are not listed in the directory. Assumed to be freely sharable due to its mention on MGDX's site: Links to drivers.
http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/
AtapiCDD
http://www.darklogic.org/fdos/projects/atapicdd/ (no longer valid page) with source code
http://wiki.fdos.org/Main/AtapiCDD
http://osdir.com/ml/emulators.freedos.devel/2005-06/msg00041.html
http://johnson.tmfc.net/freedos/usbdrv.html http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/usbdrv.html http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/file/usb18.zip http://johnson.tmfc.net/dos/file/usb18.exe
USB Drv?
OAKCDROM
Some 32-bit versions of Windows use it. Perhaps safer in some ways (less likely to hang the system) and able to detect drives well? Uses more memory. Q293185 refers to it. Q190303 does as well. Q186892: Insufficient conventional memory does as well. Win98 Resource kit calls it "Generic device driver for ATAPI CD-ROM drives.
Other CD-ROM drivers on Windows 98 startup disk
Win98 Resource kit gives a description of "Real-mode Adaptec CD-ROM driver." to Aspi2dos.sys, Apsi4dos.sys, Aspi8dos.sys, Aspi8u2dos.sys, and Aspicd.sys. It gives a description of "Mylex/Buslogic CD-ROM driver." for Btcdrom.sys and Btdosm.sys.
32-bit Windows drivers
CD-ROM (read-only)
Real drivers

Drivers may come with the operating system. This site does not have additional drivers meant for accessing physical CD-ROM disks. However, Win9x users may find the Win9x CD file system driver of some use. It acts just like a CD driver, but is placed in that section because it mounts audio CDs differently, creating a sort of virtual file system.

[#wvrtdriv]: Windows drivers for virtual optical drives

This software not only supports the mounting of a file system (such as the software found on the File systems area), but also mimics the functionality of a drive, such as opening and closing of the drive tray.

Software from Microsoft
KB916902 (Revision 1.5) links to Microsoft Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel package Review. This has been stored locally as win32/xpvcdc21.exe (a direct copy saved in 2007) and zipped locally as win32/xpvcdc21.zip (longer filename, saved in 2016).
IMDisk

See: LTR Data: ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver which “can create virtual hard disk, floppy or CD/DVD drives using image files or system memory.”

[#daemontl]: Daemon Tools
Daemon Tools for older operating systems
3.47 is the last version for Win9x, and has also been known to work quite well with Windows XP. (It has been known to have issues where the drive's CD audio won't play in CDPlayer, or perhaps it will seem to play each track for a second but it only plays silence and then moves onto the next track. This may be related to simultaneous Firefox sessions and running out of system memory, but if so, closing Firefox wouldn't fix the issue. Rebooting would.) Daemon Tools v3.47 (Daemon Tools 3.47 download page) Daemon Tools download page trayicons.zip
Windows Vista and newer

“DAEMON Tools Lite v4.40.1 (with SPTD 1.76)” web page noted, “Note: Windows 2000 is not supported from this version.” The two versions of DAEMON Tools Lite that appear to have officially supported Windows 7 and Windows 2000 were verisons 4.35.5 and 4.35.6. “Daemon Tools Lite 4.35.6 Legacy (supports Windows 2000)” (download page) offers a download to the Installer for DAEMON Tools Lite v4.35.6. However, newer versions cited improvements of bug fixes including “Handles leaks” (although that particular fix noted it was with the “Sidebar Gadget”). Perhaps the older Daemon Tools 3.47 might work better for Win2K (and XP), while users of Windows XP and newer may be better served with a newer version.

Daemon Tools 3.47's installer may be blocked by the “Program Compatability Assistant” software in Windows Vista (and, presumably, newer). Windows Error Reporting may refer people to “the DT Soft Ltd. website to learn more about Daemon Tools”, which is a URL about Windows 7 compatability, even if running under Windows Vista. This page suggests that version 4.35.5 of DAEMON Tools Lite (and 4.35.0306 of DAEMON Tools Pro) for full support, and acknowledges versions 4.30.4 of DAEMON Tools Lite (and 4.30.0305 of DAEMON Tools Pro) for “Beta support”.

Microsoft's Win7 compatability page for Daemon Tools Pro Advanced, focused on 32-bit indicates that 4.0 is compatible with Win7 32-bit, although clicking on the 64-bit tab or going to Microsoft's page for CD/DVD Utilities incompatible with 64-bit Windows 7 notes that the 64-bit software is noted as being incompatible. However, that may be outdated information about version 4.0 since DT Soft Ltd.'s Windows 7 page notes support came in with some newer versions, and “Earlier DAEMON Tools products' versions do not provide any support for OS Windows 7.”

Nero
Some versions of the Nero CD burning software come with support for using disk images like a drive. For further details on this software, see the CD burning/writing section.
Disk tray handling software
[#cdrsebrl]: CDR.EXE package by Chris Morse Sebrell

zip of CDR.EXE package by Chris Morse Sebrell was made to preserve an old archive found at CodeGuru page on CDR which discusses the code a bit further.

CD-R (writable) drivers
See CD writing software for Windows.
[#cdrdrivr]: Drivers: Writing to optical media

Support for writing to various devices tends to be built into CD writing software. (If software doesn't support a specific device, the solution tends to be to use different software. For those whom such changes affect, support for newer drives tends to be the most important upgrade introduced with newer versions of CD-writing software.) Some software may except that ASPI is supported.

Patin-Couffin
Supported by Blindwrite? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patin-Couffin
“Advanced SCSI Programming Interface” (“ASPI”) drivers

Here are some options for those who may be seeking ASPI drivers:

[#neroaspi]: Nero

Some old versions of Nero have been known to install ASPI drivers that remain even after uninstalling Nero. This would seem to be a discouragable practice, except for the fact that Nero's drivers would often work better than other ASPI solutions (even when using other software programs).

ftp://ftp6.nero.com/NeroASPIdt.exe ?
Adaptec's

Adaptec's Windows ASPI drivers version v4.71.2 for Win98/NT4/ME/2K/XP. A informational page for ASPI v4.71.2 cautions against using this version for Win95.

Adaptec's ASPI layer version 4.60 (1021) (ASPI32.EXE) for Win95 and NT. The related informational page for Adaptec's ASPI 4.60 (1021) cautions that this is *not* for Win2K or newer (including not for Win ME), as it will cause conflicts with those newer operating systems. The page says this is compatible with NT and 95, and is for 9x and NT (but not for ME). From this description, it seems it might be okay for Win98.

Golden Hawk Technology
Golden Hawk Technology's download page has a reference to “Golden Hawk Technology's ASPI driver installation kit (licensed from NexiTech)”. “These drivers are already included with CDRWIN versions 3.8F and higher.” ftp://64.251.26.164/pub/goldenhawk/download/aspight.exe
Pinnacle Systems
ftp://ftp.pinnaclesys.de/driver/pc/InstantCDDVD/ASAPI.exe
FrogASPI
This may not be hosted on other web sites, nor may it be sold. However, the software is free. http://www.frogaspi.org/download.htm#frogaspi
ASPI_ME
Gibson Research Company's page on ASPI_ME discusses a program that was once distributed from that site.
ForceASPI
http://www.radified.com/ASPI/forceaspi.htm ForceASPI 1.7 installs Adaptec's ASPI 4.6. ForceASPI 1.8 may exist and install a newer version.
Other ASPI drivers
http://www.goldenhawk.com/ide.htm refers to http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~aa571/aspi.htm http://www.lsilogic.com/support/support+drivers/scsi/ntaspi.html http://www.lsilogic.com/support/support+drivers/scsi/w2kaspi.html ftp://ftp.compaq.com/pub/softpaq/alphant/symbios_aspi.zip ncf refers to: http://www.initio.com/support/index-download.htm
ASPI drivers may come into play. (Store here, or in the CD writing drivers section?). See http://www.nu2.nu/aspi/#where http://www.goldenhawk.com/download_body.htm Golden Hawk's download page refers to Golden Hawk Technology's ASPI drivers for Win95/98/Me/NT/2K/XP

If one isn't trying to write to optical media, then perhaps drivers for reading CDs will be more helpful. Most CD and DVD writing units can use standard CD-ROM drivers to be able to read media.

[#optdscwr]: Software: Writing to optical media

The information at ][CyberPillar][: Writing to discs covers other operating systems.

General overview

Software for writing optical discs tend to support the function of Drivers for writing to optical media and interacting with the drive, often supporting features such as handling buffer overruns with the drive.

Additionally, software for writing optical disks may or may not also support the handling of images (and/or real-time handling) of file systems for CDs and/or file systems for DVDs. This tends to be true on the Microsoft Windows platform. For Linux, the software that makes file systems (such as mkisofs) tends to be different than the actual CD writing software (cdrecord/cdio), although one type of program may be able to invoke the other in order to accomplish both tasks. (growisofs may be able to do both.)

Specific Software
Cdrtools (Cdrecord)

http://cdrecord.berlios.de/ redirects to the main CDRTools page (which oddly has the words “old” and “private” in the URL, but seems to be a public page).

This became an early, popular solution to writing CDs under Linux.

Other options for Unixish systems
cdio, growisofs, mkhybrid. See http://www.openbsd.org/faq/faq13.html#burnCD
Software for DOS

Golden Hawk Technology's DOS software called Disk At Once (DAO) (obtained from CDRWin page?), http://www.freeweb.hu/doscdroast/index.html

[#wincdwrt]: CD-writing software for Windows

One may need...

ASPI drivers
ASPI drivers may come into play. (Store here, or in the CD writing drivers section?). See #aspidrvr (or http://www.nu2.nu/aspi/#where ).

One site that may be of interest in making bootable CDs is: Bart Lagerweij's “Bootable CD's” page hyperlinks to resources including Bart Lagerweij's way to create bootable CD-Roms.

Here are some other options:

[#blindwrt]: BlindWrite

Another home page: WWW.BlindWrite.Com.

Tutorial

Apparently http://www.vso-software.fr/download.php?url=http://vso.nerim.net/blindwrite_full_setup.exe was once a valid URL top get BlindWrite 4.57. Now, BlindWrite 4.57. (Zipped locally.) Download page for BlindWrite 4.57 (verified to be identical to zipped local copy). BlindWrite_BWABuilder5 (zipped locally).

I believe the program and/or functionality of BlindRead may be contained in the BlindWrite software distribution file.

[#nero]: Nero

Ahead.de and nero.com serve as home pages for Nero. (At least some earlier versions were known as “Nero Burning ROM”, a pun on the idea of burning a CD-R which then acts as a ROM, and the history of when the city of Rome experienced fires during the time of the Caeser known as Nero.

Nero has an excellent history. Not only was it one of the few options for Windows 3.1, but the earlier versions contained ASPI Drivers from Nero which seemed to often provide superior compatability.

Today, Nero has been known to offer some free software: Nero Free 9 and Nero BurnLite 10. The Nero BurnLite Free (English) page allows a download for those willing to share an E-Mail address.

[#cdrwin]: CDRWin
CDRWin Download Page e.g. http://goldenhawk.digitallatinum.com/download/cdr40g-a.exe
[#imgburn]: ImgBurn

ImgBurn is the successor to DVD Decrypter, with reduced functionality so as to comply with appease legal concerns brought up by Macrovision. This is Freeware compatible with Wine, Win9x, WinNT4, and newer versions of Windows (including Windows 7 and Windows 2008). This software supports creating and writing images in multiple formats including the ever popular *.ISO, the more informative *.BIN/*.CUE, and more formats. The program has also been known to work (on a particular drive and operating system) when InfraRecorder didn't work, so it may have its use for nicer hardware compatibility.

In a forum post, the author of the software, known as “Lightning UK!”, was asked about source code availability and noted, “Never gonna happen, sorry.” In another Forum post, the author “Lightning UK!” noted, “ImgBurn doesn't use sub channel data. It won't write it and it won't read it. If it's present in an image, it just gets discarded.” Also, stated was, “I very much doubt that'll change”.

The ImgBurn change log references CLI, so apparenlty it does have a command line interface.

[#infrarec]: InfraRecorder
Open source software for Win2K/XP+
Other options
Wikipedia's list of optical disc authoring software provides multiple options.
[#cdaudpla]: Playing CD Audio

See CD audio playback software.