Monday, February 02, 2009

How to Remove Opendisc ® from Windows

As somebody who recently used an Opendisc® CD on my computer and found it not to be showing CD audio ".cda" files but a list of Windows files and folders (including an "autorun.exe") I suspected I'd inadvertently installed some DRM from the CD that wasn't allowing me to see the audio content.

After further investigation (Google was practically useless) and viewing the Opendisc® FAQ and Tech Notes pages contacting Opendisc® about their Opendisc® product I ended up even more frustrated because it states:

Do I need to install additional software onto my computer to use Opendisc®?

No, Opendisc® does not require additional software installation.
A small file will be stored in your user preferences so that you need not fill in the form at each visit to the artist's private web site.

So basically they won't say exactly what that file is, I thought "lest I try and remove it" - I suspected it had the potential to be doing something nasty to my machine. So I emailed Opendisc® support about their Opendisc® product and how to remove the small "file".

Opendisc® support got back to me today and specified exactly what the file was and how to remove it (quoted with typos):
Dear Sir,

You can cancel and redo your registration by following attentively this method:
- Close the Opendisc application.
- In Windows, go to "Start" and then "Run".
- Enter the command "regedit".
- Search for the key "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Opendisc" in the left pannel.
- Select this key and delete it.
- Close the Regedit tool
- Start Opendisc
- Make your subscription to Opendisc again.


The Opendisc® Support Team.

You can follow these instructions to remove it, but it will be a bit pointless, next time you (auto) run the CD the data will just get added back to the registry, which (admittedly from memory) looked like info about the CD for the enhanced content, no personal info.

The catch is this - the CD is formatted to be a "mixed-mode" CD which is perfectly above board and a standard CD format, i.e. no breaking standards, no CD formatted not to read on a computer etc. The Opendisc® website actually says:

The Opendisc® technology respects the Blue Book specifications

This is a good thing - the format is also known as an "Enhanced CD", "CD Extra" or "CD Plus". Basically it's a disc with one part CD player compatible format (the type that on a computer would just show as small ".cda" files) and the other part formatted using a standard computer readable file format, which may contain different content, the "enhanced" content. When Windows reads the disc it has two choices, it can show the .cda files (which are practically useless in Windows Explorer) or show the content it (and other operating systems) was designed to do, i.e. the files that included the "autorun.exe" that I saw. This will also affect most software that plays audio from both compact discs and filesystems, since it will make the same decision as to which part of the CD to read.

So in short, for now Opendisc® appears to be completely safe (at least the Opendisc® versions I've seen such as on the CD "The Script"). If you need to get at the "raw" CD sound files on a mixed mode CD a decent "ripper" application will do that (I do not advocate any form of piracy) and will ignore the "Windows compatible" formatted part.

- Did I mention Opendisc® was a registered trademark (yes it bugs me ;) )?
- "Windows compatible" and so forth is not strictly the correct terminology, but used here for ease of understanding for non technical readers.
- I am in no way associated or funded by Opendisc® or its associates/affiliates, just relieved to see that this appears to be all above board stuff and I thought I'd pass on the news :)

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