Introduction Instructions Downloads Contact Me
Compatibility List FAQ Project Page Logo

How to Use It

Windows NT/2000/XP Users

A new, severely undertested version of CD-ROM Tool is available for NT-based OSes that does not use ASPI. Rather, it uses an interface built into the OS called SPTI. If you wish to try this, it is available in the downloads section.

The regular version uses ASPI drivers to send commands to your drive. These drivers are included in Win95/98 (and ME, maybe? Does anyone know?), but not in Windows NT/2000/XP. I know of two options you have for installing ASPI on your system:

  1. Use Adaptec's ASPI layer. You can download the install program here.
  2. Use Nero's ASPI layer. As of August 2002, CD-ROM Tool can use Nero's ASPI layer to communicate with your drives. For those who don't know, Nero is a CD burning software package that can be found at When you have installed Nero, you will find a file called "wnaspi32.dll" in the Nero directory. To use Nero's ASPI layer, copy this file to the same directory in which you put CD-ROM Tool or put it somewhere on the path so CD-ROM Tool can find it.

Does anyone know of any other ASPI implementations that work with CD-ROM Tool? If you do, please let me know.

A Word on Compatibility

I have tried to make CD-ROM Tool versatile enough to work with a variety of hardware. However, please keep in mind that commands for setting the read speed and spindown time are an optional part of the CD-ROM specification; drive manufacturers are not required to implement them. If your drive is not made to respond to these commands, then CD-ROM Tool isn't going to work with your drive. Manufacturers almost never indicate whether they've chosen to include this functionality or not, so the best way to find out is to give it a try.

As for DVD drives, CD-ROM Tool may be able to control the way the drive behaves when it's reading CD-ROMs/Rs/RWs, but I would not expect it to control the way the drive behaves when reading DVD-ROMs. Any control CD-ROM Tool has over the speed at which a DVD drive reads a DVD is just a fluke. I do not own a DVD drive, let alone one that allows DVD speed changing, so I haven't yet been able to add that functionality.

I maintain a compatibility list of drives known to work (or not work) with CD-ROM Tool. Please send me your results and help the list grow.


After you download CD-ROM Tool, unzip it in the folder of your choice and run it. That's it. There is no stupid installation program. If you want to remove CD-ROM Tool from your computer, just delete it (and the config file it generates). If you want to move it to a different location on your computer, just move cdromtool.exe and cdromtool.ini (if it exists) to another location. Once you have the program where you want to keep it, you can create shortcuts manually, or use the in-program controls to create shortcuts for you. Don't worry about CD-ROM Tool cluttering up your registry, either; all settings are stored in an .INI file in the same folder as the program.


Given the above information on how to install the program, this is really a no-brainer, but some people have asked me about it. CD-ROM Tool is installed manually by the user by unzipping the contents of the .zip file into a location of the user's choice; therefore, there is no uninstall program, and no item is added to the "Add/Remove Programs" parts of Windows. Since CD-ROM Tool does not create or modify any files outside of the directory in which you chose to place it, uninstalling it is a simple matter of deleting the files that came in the .zip file, and also "cdromtool.ini" (generated by the program, located in the same directory as the .exe file).

The Drive List

The listview box at the very top contains a list of all CD-ROM devices found in your system. Select the drive whose read speed and spindown time you'd like to change.

Read Speed

(main tab)
The maximum speed and current speed of each drive are shown in the second column of the Drive List. These readings are reported directly from the drive. A drive's current speed is updated whenever you:

Thus, it is usually a good indication of the speed at which your drive is currently set.

Before you can change the read speed of your drive, CD-ROM Tool needs to know what it is capable of. Go ahead and press the "Detect Speeds" button. You'll see a progress bar fill up as the detection progresses. This process can take as little as a few seconds or as long as a few minutes to complete, depending on the drive, so please be patient. If you wish to abort the process, the "Abort Detect" button will allow you to do so. When detection has completed successfully, you should find the speeds that your drive is capable of in the pulldown box. If you think CD-ROM Tool should have detected more speeds than it did, you may wish to increase the Tolerance and retry the detection, or even manually enter speeds using the "advanced" tab (providing that you know exactly what your drive can do).

Some drives support many speeds, and others will not let you change the speed at all.

An example of speed detection.
(1) (2) (3)

If CD-ROM Tool doesn't detect your drive's maximum speed in the pulldown box: I've seen this happen more than once, and my opinion is that it happens because of drive design details. The drive says one thing about its maximum speed; then, when you tell it to set its speed to maximum and ask it what its current speed is, it tells you another thing. For intstance, the NEC CD-ROM DRIVE:28D3.03 reports its maximum speed as 40x. However, when the drive is commanded to change to its maximum speed, the current speed then reads 17x. If CD-ROM Tool does not detect your drive's maximum speed, then you may have such a drive.

A Theory on the Above Phenomenon: Many drives are CAV (constant angular velocity) drives, or will operate in a CAV mode when set to certain speeds. This means that the disc spins at a constant rate, and the actual read speed varies depending on what part of the disc is being read (reading near the outer edge of the disc is much faster than reading near the inner edge in CAV mode). [For instance, the ASUS CD-S340 advertises itself as a 34x Max drive. It can attain a maximum speed of 34x near the outside of the disc, but may only read at about 14x near the inside of the disc.] Now, imagine you're the manfacturer of a drive that can operate in CAV mode. If such a drive can vary so wildly in its read speed, what speed would you have your drive report when CD-ROM Tool asks it for its current/maximum speed? Tough decision, no? It's one that every manufacturer must have to make, and since there is no standard for it, they all decide differently. The phenomenon mentioned above may be the result of the drive reporting its maximum attainable speed as its maximum speed, but being more realistic about reporting the speeds it can be set to.

Once you've detected your drive's speeds, you can try to change its read speed. Just choose an item from the pulldown box that is different than the current speed. Recall that the current speed reading is reported directly from the drive, so if it changes, you have successfully changed the read speed of your drive. Note that if the disc is spinning when you change the read speed, the rotational speed of the disc might not change until some data is read.

An example of changing the read speed.
(1) (2) (3)

Speed Detection Tolerance
Every company makes their drives differently, so there needs to be a certain degree of tolerance in the detection process (if you want a more technical explanation of tolerance, you'll have to look at the source code). The default tolerance is 30. Larger values increase the chance of finding more speeds, but slow down the detection process.

To try a different tolerance:

First change the number in the tolerance edit box. Then press the "Detect Speeds" button to re-detect speeds using the new tolerance.

Spindown Time

(main tab)
Before you start messing around with the spindown time, please note: the CD-ROM specification warns that higher values in this parameter may adversely affect the life of the drive. Don't panic, though. They're just saying that setting the read speed to 50x and the spindown time to 32 minutes (for example) is a bad idea. Just use common sense, and nothing bad will happen. If you make the spindown time very low or high, you'll probably want to lower the read speed.

The current spindown time reading (the third column in the Drive List), like the current speed reading, is updated when a new drive is selected, when you try to change the spindown time, and at regular intervals if you have the refresh option checked. It is the amount of time a disc stays spinning after data is last accessed from it. The current time reading comes directly from the drive. Just as you did with the read speeds, try to set the spindown time to some new value by using the pulldown box.

As with the read speed, your success here depends on how the drive was made. Some drives do not allow you to change the spindown time. If, when you select a new speed from the combo box, the current time reading does not change, or if there is no current time reading, it has probably been locked by the vendor and is impossible to set in your drive. A current time reading of "VS" indicates that the spindown time is currently set to a "Vendor Specific" value. Most of the time, "VS" means that the spindown time is fixed.

Note that this pulldown box contains all standard CD-ROM idle times regardless of whether your spindown time is locked.

Drive Locking

(main tab)
If your drive supports it, you can use the "Lock"/"Unlock" button to toggle the drive's lock state. When a drive is locked, it does not respond to eject commands. Things to keep in mind:

Refresh readings every X seconds

(main tab)
Enter an interval in seconds and check this box to cause the drive readings to be refreshed at regular intervals. This is useful because many drives change speeds on their own, or can have their speed/spindown changed by other programs. Refreshing too often has caused some [Win 95/98] systems to crash, so I have included it as an option. If this box is not checked, drive readings are only updated when you select a new drive, or when you try to change the drive's speed or spindown.

Send Drive Data

This is a new, potentially buggy feature that allows CD-ROM Tool to (with the user's consent) automatically gather and report drive information so that it may be added to the compatibility list. Naturally, you must have a working internet connection to do this, and proxy servers are not supported -- you need to be able to make direct outgoing connections on port 80.


(automation tab)
Some drives reset themselves when a new disc is inserted. CD-ROM Tool can detect when this happens, and automatically set your drive to a particular read speed and/or spindown time. The set-on-insert feature is fairly self-explanatory.

NOTE: As of version 10/24/2001, set-on-insert will work its magic on all drives for which it is enabled, as long as CD-ROM Tool is running. Before, it only worked on the drive that was selected.


(automation tab)
Is your drive so ill-behaved that is resets itself every so often? If so, Periodic-Set may be useful. Just give CD-ROM Tool an interval in seconds, select which of speed and/or spindown you want to keep your drive at, and check the Periodic Set checkbox. CD-ROM Tool will set your drive accordingly whenever your specified amount of time passes.

NOTE: As of version 10/24/2001, periodic-set will work its magic on all drives for which it is enabled, as long as CD-ROM Tool is running. Before, it only worked on the drive that was selected.

Create a Shortcut

(shortcuts tab)
You can use these controls to easily create Windows shortcuts for CD-ROM Tool.

Select "Normal" to create a shortcut that starts CD-ROM Tool and initially selects whatever drive you have selected when you create the shortcut.

"Start Minimized" does the same thing, except CD-ROM Tool will initally be minimized to the taskbar.

"In the System Tray" does the same thing, except CD-ROM Tool will initially be minimized to the system tray.

Quick Setting

(shortcuts tab)
Sometimes, it's nice to be able to quickly set a drive to a particular read speed or spindown time. To do this, you can create Quickset shortcuts. Suppose you would like to create a shortcut that will quickly set your drive to 1x read speed and 16 minutes spindown time.

Go to the "Shortcuts" tab to reveal the Quickset panel. Check both the "Speed" and "Spindown Time" boxes. This will reveal pulldown boxes.

Change the boxes to the desired settings, and press the "Create on Desktop" button. A shortcut should appear on your desktop. If you run it, CD-ROM Tool will start without showing its user interface, automatically set the drive to 1x read speed and 16 min spindown time, and quit.

You can do whatever you want with this shortcut:
  • Delete it
  • Rename it
  • Put it in your startup folder

If you ever move cdromtool.exe to another location, or if you remove/add devices to your computer, your Quickset shortcuts may stop functioning properly. If this happens, you'll have to recreate them.

Advanced Drive Controls

(advanced tab)
Using the controls in this section requires a more basic understanding of how the commands that change the drive settings work, which is why I've classified them as "advanced". Particularly, you should know that CD-ROM drives must be sent a speed in kilobytes/sec in order to change their read speed.

Manage Speeds: When you press the detect speeds button, CD-ROM Tool runs an algorithm designed to detect the speeds at which the drive is capable of operating. "Manage Speeds" allows you to edit the list of speeds however you like. Each speed has a name that identifies the speed, and the speed itself -- a value in kilobytes/sec -- which is sent to the drive when CD-ROM Tool tries to change to that speed. What's this good for (you may ask)? You might want to use this to remove speeds you never use, add speeds you KNOW your drive is capable of (but were not detected for some reason), or change the names of the speeds to whatever you like.

Manually Set Speed: As the name implies, this button lets you attempt to manually set the speed to whatever value (in kb/s) you type in the box.

General Options

The options in the "General Options" section, as their name implies, do not apply to any particular drive. To turn general options on and off, click on the "Options" button at the bottom of the application window.

Minimize to system tray button: Check this to display a "minimize to system tray" button in the caption of the application window. You can press this button in order to minimize the application to the system tray. When the application is minimized to the tray, double clicking on it will restore the window. Right clicking on the tray icon brings up a menu that will allow you to set drive parameters from a menu.

Show Large Drive Title: Check this if you want CD-ROM Tool to show the name of the currently-selected drive in a large font above the control tabs. This is on by default, as this makes it obvious which drive you are currently controlling, but you can hide it if you like.

Display Splash Screen: Uncheck this if you do not want CD-ROM Tool to show a splash screen on startup. You can also hide the splash screen by appending "-h" onto the end of CD-ROM Tool's command line.

Monitor Only Selected Drive: Check this if you want CD-ROM Tool to monitor only the drive you currently have selected for Set-On-Insert, Periodic-Set, and drive readings refresh. I created this option because monitoring all drives at once was causing some interference with my sound card, producing an annoying popping effect. I do not yet know if this happens with other hardware configurations. Of course, if you only have one drive, this option does nothing.

Debug Mode

If CD-ROM Tool quits with an error, you can try running it in DEBUG mode. This causes vital information inside the program to be written to the file cdromtool.dat (in the same folder as cdromtool.exe) as it runs.

You can run in debug mode using two methods:

  1. Single click on the executable file (cdromtool.exe) so that it is the only item selected; press and hold the shift key; still holding the shift key, double click on the executable file.
  2. Start the program with the command line option "-debug" (not including the quotes).

You will see "DEBUG" at the bottom of the window where the version date usually is if CD-ROM Tool is running in debug mode.

Then, just do whatever it is that causes the error. cdromtool.dat will be written the folder where cdromtool.exe is located. If you send the file to me with a description of the problem, I might be able to help, but please don't bother unless you're willing to work with me to correct the problem.

Introduction Instructions Downloads Contact Me Compatibility List FAQ
Copyright 1999-2006 Naiobrin Software -- script obfuscation courtesy of JPEO