Some notes we've thrown together.

Here are a few articles we've prepared on technical topics which other people may find helpful.

Installing Mitchell OnDemand5 without a Floppy Drive :

Mitchell OnDemand5 is a comprehensive automotive software package containing reference information for almost every car ever made. It is published on a subscription basis, and mechanics and auto repair garages often purchase this software to assist them in fixing cars and other vehicles at their service stations.

The software installation consists of the following media :

  • 1 x Installation CDROM disk for Windows
  • 1 x License Key Disk floppy disk
  • 4 x Data DVDROM disks

To install this program, you run the installation program from the install CD. When running Mitchell OnDemand5 for the first time after that installation completes, you will be prompted to insert the key floppy disk, as well as the data DVDROM disks in order to configure the paths for the software. After this initial configuration of the program, you will not need the floppy key disk ever again during normal use of the Mitchell OnDemand5 software.

A major problem is that many modern computers do not come with floppy disk drives anymore. Even worse, if you choose to install the program onto a laptop or notebook computer, it can be very difficult (if not impossible) to install a floppy drive onto that system. Even worse, you will have no use for this floppy drive after the initial installation is complete, so purchasing a drive if one is available as an option for a notebook system quickly becomes unneeded after a few seconds during the initial install.

According to an article I found on the Mitchell customer forums, other people have had the same problem, without much success. The Mitchell representative posting in that message couldn't provide an alternate way around the floppy, but did indicate that subsequent new versions of the software coming soon will no longer use a floppy for license authentication.

Here's how to use the Mitchell OnDemand5 license floppy on a system without a floppy disk drive!

  1. Install Mitchell OnDemand5 using the installation CD, and exit out of the program when it runs following a successful installation.
  2. Download UltraISO from the internet, and install it onto a computer containing a floppy disk drive (you can download a free trial copy from that link). We will use that computer to make an image file containing the contents of the license key floppy disk. You should also install this program onto the same computer as your Mitchell installation to make images containing the data DVDROM disks.
  3. On the system with a working floppy drive, use the UltraISO program to make an image file onto your hard drive containing the contents of the License Key floppy disk. We will call this image file "floppy.ima". It will be roughly 1.44MB in size, the same size as the source floppy disk.
  4. Copy this floppy disk image file created above onto the computer where Mitchell OnDemand5 is installed.
  5. On the system where Mitchell OnDemand5 is installed, use the UltraISO program to make an image file onto your hard drive containing the contents of each of the four DVDROM vehicle data disks. We will call this image files :
    • DVD01.ISO
    • DVD02.ISO
    • DVD03.ISO
    • DVD04.ISO

    These files will be exact images of the data DVDROM disks, so they can be as large as 7GB each in size, the same size as the source DVDROM disks. You will obviously need enough space on the Mitchell computer's hard disk drive in order to save these four large disk image files. However, having them all available on the computer's hard disk will prevent having to swap the data DVDROM disks whenever you use the program later on.
  6. Download DaemonTools. This free program works on Windows NT / 2000 / XP systems, and allows you to flawlessly emulate a CD/DVDROM drives using a disk image file (such as the disk images of the data DVDROMs we created above).
  7. Install DaemonTools on the system where Mitchell OnDemand5 is installed. Configure the program to provide four of the virtual CD/DVDROM drives (it provides only one such drive by default). This will create four brand new drive letters for these virtual CD/DVDROM drives, and they will show up in My Computer and other places.
  8. Configure DaemonTools to use the four Mitchell DVDROM disk images we created above (one disk image for each of the four virtual DVD drives we created). This will allow you to simulate flawlessly having all four Mitchell data DVDROM disks online at the same time, and will allow you to avoid swapping DVDROM disks while running Mitchell OnDemand5 later on.
  9. Download Virtual Floppy Drive. This free program works on Windows NT / 2000 / XP systems, and allows you to flawlessly emulate a floppy disk drive using software.
  10. Unzip the Virtual Floppy Drive program, and put a copy of it onto the floppy-less computer where Mitchell OnDemand5 is installed.
  11. Run the VfdWin.exe ("virtual floppy drive") program to configure and install the virtual floppy drive onto your computer system. When prompted, tell it to use the drive letter "A" for your virtual floppy drive, and use the image file we created above from the license key floppy disk ("floppy.ima") as the floppy disk to be emulated.
  12. Run the Mitchell OnDemand5 application, and tell it to setup the disks and paths for the data. It will ask you to insert the key floppy and one of the data DVDROM disks. Point it now toward one of the virtual data DVDROMs we configured above using DaemonTools, and tell the program to continue. It should then proceed as if you had a real floppy disk installed, reading the virtual floppy disk we configured, and not noticing any difference from a real physical floppy drive.
  13. When the Mitchell OnDemand5 disks and paths configuration wizard finishes, you can exit the program. Close down the VfdWin.exe program from the virtual floppy drive, and delete the files from that program (we won't need them anymore). You will still need to keep the DaemonTools program installed, and keep the four data DVDROM files on your drive to avoid swapping data DVDROMs on subsequent use of the Mitchell software.
  14. You're finished! You should now have Mitchell OnDemand5 successfully installed, without having had to purchase or obtain a physical floppy disk drive to complete the installation.

Hopefully this advice will help legitimate users avoid purchasing legacy floppy drives just for a few seconds during the initial installation process for this great Mitchell OnDemand5 software. Having the software installed on a laptop or notebook system (which rarely come with floppy drives anymore) allows the great Mitchell software to be portable and moveable around your garage, and can be near the vehicle for comparisons and reference.

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