Alcohol 120%: Copying SecuROM 4.8x protected games with no emulation

As most of the forum’s regular members and visitors know, CloneCD can be used together with twinpeak to produce copies of the latest securom protected games that will work from most cd/dvd roms and cdrws. The method by which that is done is set out in this thread.

However, not everyone has CloneCD and after paying US$50 for alcohol, many of our members have asked whether alcohol can be used for the same purpose.

The answer to that question is yes though if you ask that question on alcohol’s official support forum, invariably you will be directed to a walk-through for making a copy using emulation techniques (not what you asked for) and you may be pointed to a thread written by a member of the alcohol team containing a curious mixture of facts, omissions and special pleading and purporting to be “some facts about securom 4.8x” (again, not exactly what you were looking for).

What they won’t tell you though on alcohol’s official forum is how to use alcohol to make copies that don’t require emulation. However, if you don’t already know how, I will.

As with CloneCD, alcohol cannot make copies of securom 4.8x protected games that work without emulation without some outside help. [The only combination of software and hardware that, since July 2003, has been able to do so is blindwrite v. 4.5.3 or later with a plextor premium writer with firmware revision 1.03 or later. A copy made with that combination is currently the closest possible to a “1:1” copy and will install and run from virtually any drive without any form of emulation save for the need to use an atip hiding utility if playing from a writer.]

However, alcohol can do so with some help from blackcheck’s twinpeak tool and a bwa file. [Note: If you are unable to access blackcheck’s site, thanks to blackcheck and spath, it is also available right here.]
Whilst, as with CloneCD, the method used is a little time consuming, it isn’t difficult and has a number of advantages over other methods.

First, and most obvious, is that a copy made with this method will work on most devices without any form of emulation. As such, it is obviously superior to an RMPS copy made with alcohol or an autoplay copy made with blindwrite since copies made with either of those methods require emulation to work. (In my case, most of the games I copy are back-ups for my children and copies that require emulation are useless as they do not have any of alcohol, daemon tools or blindwrite installed on their computers.)

Second, whilst blindwrite version 4.2.5 can also make copies of securom 4.8x protected cds that work without emulation (since it too uses a version of the twinpeak process), it is anything but a reliable application. (Blindwrite has been updated several times since the release of that version to try to remedy the bugs but later releases from about version 4.2.8 or thereabouts on have dropped the option to make copies of securom 4.8x protected games that will work without emulation altogether.)

Third, whilst blackcheck’s twinpeak tool is programmed to be used with CloneCD, alcohol can make and burn images in CloneCD format and you may not wish to pay for licences for two duplicating programs if one can do the work of both.

OK, that said, now you want to know how to do it.

  1. Start by making an image of the play cd of the game you want to copy. The datatype setting to use is securom new (not securom new 4.x) for this purpose and the image must be saved in CloneCD format and not in alcohol’s native format. Reading speed doesn’t matter. Max speed will be fine. [Note: If the game has more than one cd, the only one that will be protected will be the one that has to be in the drive to play the game. The other cd/s can be copied by just using your favourite general burning software (e.g. nero) without any special settings.]

  2. Then either download a bwa file for the cd you want to copy (you can get bwa files here) or use blindwrite’s bwa builder to make your own. If you’re able to download a bwa file, then you can proceed straight to patching with twinpeak. If not, well you’ll just have to make one.

  3. Next make a bwa file (skip this step if you’ve downloaded one). To make a bwa file, you need to use blindwrite’s bwa builder. [Note: There is no need for blindwrite itself to be on your system. You can install blindwrite, copy the bwa builder exe file to another folder on your hard drive and then uninstall blindwrite if you don’t want it on your system. The patin-couffin layer necessary for the bwa builder to function won’t be removed when blindwrite is uninstalled.] There are two ways to use the bwa builder to make a good bwa file:

a) Once you’ve put the play cd into your chosen reader, start the bwa builder. Select the reader, if you’ve got more than one, and speed. Low speeds (1x to 8x) usually work best but not always so experiment and see what works best for you. (In my case, I get best results with my Ltd-163 at 8x but, no doubt, your results will be different. Then click on Start. You’ll then be asked if you want the program to set the last sector automatically. Either say yes if you want the bwa builder to analyse the whole cd or say No and set it yourself. If you say No, then you’ll need to have previously set the Max sector yourself - blackcheck has indicated that 50,000 is usually enough. The analysis will then start.

When it’s finished, with any luck, the graph will show a fairly smooth curve with only one or two spikes and preferably none. Don’t worry if you can’t get the perfect spikeless curves that ViRuS2k is able to achieve. Not everyone is going to be able to achieve his flawless results. If there are only one or two spikes the copy will still work ok, particularly if the spikes aren’t in the first 50,000 sectors (the copy will probably be a little slower to verify than one made with a spikeless bwa file but it will still work). [Tip: Don’t terminate the analysis just because a number of spikes appear on the graph while the analysis is proceeding. Wait until it’s finished because most, or if you’re lucky, all of them will be eliminated by the bwa builder as it completes the process.] If, however, there’s a lot of spikes in the graph, don’t bother with it. It won’t work. Try again and if you again get a bad graph try at a different speed or with a different reader. Once you get one that looks ok, click on File and then Save BWA to save the file.

b) If, no matter what you do, you can’t get a good .bwa file just using the bwa builder, then you’ll have to try to make one by converting an .mds file created by alcohol. To make an mds file with alcohol simply make an image of the play cd using securom new 4.x settings in mds/mdf format. When you’re asked to select the measuring speed for the DPM function, again you’ll probably get better results at low speed. (With my Ltd-163, I use 4x.) When it’s finished making the image files, run the bwa builder and load the mds file by clicking on File and then Load BWA/MDS. If the graph looks ok then create a .bwa file by clicking on File and then Convert MDS -> BWA. This will create a .bwa file in the same folder as your .mds file. You can then delete the mds/mdf files as they’re no longer needed.

  1. Now it’s time to patch the image files. Start Twinpeak and in the Options select the twin sector step. I just use the default of 15 as it works fine for me. However, 6 and 50 are also known to work. Select the .ccd file and the .bwa file and then click Start. Twinpeak will then tell you where it will insert twinsectors and when you click OK it will patch the image files. When it’s finished, you’ll have three new files in the same folder where you saved the original image files. Those files will be patched.ccd, patched.img and patched.sub.

  2. Well, you’ve patched the image files and you’re now ready to burn your back-up copy. How? Simple. Just start alcohol’s image burning wizard and burn patched.ccd using the securom new (not securom new 4.x) datatype setting. Because this type of copy is anything but standard, out of an abundance of caution, you’ll probably get better results if you burn at relatively low speed (say 8x). [Note: Before burning you’ll be warned that the image size doesn’t match the lead-out specified in the toc and you’ll be given three burning options. The first option is correct: “Keep TOC as on source cd, write until end of image file”.]

SOME POPULAR MYTHS AND FACTS

Myth: Copies made with this method aren’t any good because the guard module of securom could be updated by a game update so as to detect twin sectors and thereby render the copy useless.

Fact: It hasn’t happened yet.

Fact: There has not yet been any securom 4.8x protected game released to date that can’t be copied successfully with this method.

Fact: Any copy of a copy protected game, irrespective of the copying method used, can be rendered useless by an update to the protection effected by a game update; RMPS and autoplay copies do not have some magical or mystical exemption. Indeed, given that each new version of securom blacklists existing versions of alcohol’s and daemon tools’ virtual drives, it is quite naive to expect that RMPS emulation won’t be targeted.

Myth: Copies made with this method aren’t any good because they don’t work on all systems and from all drives.

Fact: Whilst twinpeak copies do not work on all systems and on all drives, they do work on most of them. What’s more, so long as it works on your system on any of your drives, you’ve got a working copy and you no longer need to use the original.

Fact: The alternative methods requiring emulation are worse. An RMPS copy made with alcohol will not work on any drive unless either alcohol or daemon tools is installed on the system and RMPS emulation is enabled. An autoplay copy made with blindwrite will not work on any system unless either blindwrite or the separate autoplay filter is installed on the system and autoplay is enabled.

Myth: Twinpeak copies aren’t any good because they’re not 1:1 copies.

Fact: No copy of a copy protected cd is ever a 1:1 copy.

Myth: If you made a perfect bwa file, your copy will both install and run on any system and from any drive.

Fact: Even blackcheck will tell you that twinpeak copies will not run on all drives, let alone install. Of course, the better the bwa file, the better your chances but, no matter how good the bwa file, the copy may still fail from one or more of your drives. However, this hardly matters so long as it works from one of them.

Fact: No matter how good the twinpeak copy, it won’t be able to be used to install the game from some drives even though it can be used to play. Again, the better the bwa file, the better your chances but even a perfect bwa file doesn’t guarantee success. A twinpeak copy is not a standard cd and many readers will “choke” on the twin sectors when trying to install. As a general rule, the more accurate the reader, the more likely it is to “choke” when reading during the installation process. You will probably have difficulties with installation from the twinpeak copy if you use either a Toshiba or Plextor drive as the reader. On the other hand, Lite-on drives are somewhat more tolerant of twin sectors and you shouldn’t have much difficulty with installation from a Lite-on drive so long as your bwa file didn’t have too many spikes.

Myth: If you made a perfect bwa file, your copy will work from a writer without alcohol’s “Ignore media type” or an equivalent utility being enabled.

Fact: Securom 4.8x protected cds still have an atip check and will not run from a writer (or one of the very rare dvd roms that can read an atip) without an atip hiding utility. Where copies appear to have worked from a writer without such a utility, invariably it’s because you have alcohol on your system and its “Ignore media type” is running in the background without your knowledge. (If you’ve fallen for this one, don’t feel bad about it as alcohol does lots of things behind your back and I’ve been caught out by this one once too.)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. Is this method as reliable as the CloneCD/twinpeak method?

A. Almost, but not quite. My own test results have shown a zero failure rate using CloneCD/twinpeak but I have had the occasional failure using this method with alcohol. However, those failures have been quite rare (say 3 – 5%) and a second attempt has always resulted in a successful copy. No doubt, the occasional failure is the result of alcohol using a foreign format to write a non-standard cd whilst CloneCD is using its native format.

Q. What should I do if I can run the game from my copy but can’t install it from the copy from any of my drives?

A. There are two straight-forward solutions:

a) Install the game from the original cd on the (rare) occasion that you may need to install (you do own the original don’t you?).

b) Make a further copy of the play cd using any general burning software (e.g. nero) without any special settings and use that copy for installation purposes.

Q. If my original cd is damaged, lost or destroyed, can I make a further back-up copy from my twinpeak copy.

A. If you kept your original bwa file and you were able to install the game using the twinpeak copy from any of your drives, yes. Just make an image of the twinpeak copy with the drive you used to install the game, patch with twinpeak using your bwa file and burn the patched image. If you elected to make a separate non-twinpeak copy of the play cd for installation purposes, it’s even easier to use that copy to make a further working back-up copy as those readers that would be unable to make an image of the twinpeak copy will have no difficulty reading the installation copy.

Q. What does it mean if I’ve followed all your instructions, made a perfect bwa file and tried everything I can think of but I still can’t get a copy to work on any of my drives?

A. You’re unlucky. A twinpeak copy just isn’t going to work on your system and the best you’ll be able to do is an RMPS emulation copy made with alcohol or an autoplay copy made with blindwrite. Sorry, but as I said above, whilst twinpeak copies work on most systems, they don’t work on all.

NOTICE

This thread is intended to provide information to our members about how to use alcohol to make copies securom 4.8x protected cds that work without emulation. All posts in reply to the effect of “Just use alcohol with RMPS” or “Just use blindwrite version 4.2.5” will simply be deleted without debate and without notice. So too will any posts containing misinformation such as “My copy worked both to play and install on every drive I tested it on, including my Plextor and Toshiba, so if you do it right it will definitely work for you too” as will any other posts that in either my absolute and uncontrolled opinion (or that of Hemispasm or FutureProof) amount to little more than spam or otherwise contain misinformation.