Whenever I acquire new software, I copy the installation files and/or an
image of the installation disc(s) to a shared drive (network or USB). Then
from that point on I install or reinstall the software from the shared drive
rather than the original media.
If the software is on a CD/DVD (MS Office for example), I image the disc
(create an ISO image file) and store the ISO on my shared network drive. If
the software requires a product key then I also create a text file containing
the key, and store it alongside the ISO with the same name except for a
.key.txt extension. If you don't have a CD/DVD burning application that can
create ISO files, then I recommend ImgBurn: http://www.imgburn.com
From that point on, when I need to install or reinstall the software, rather
than having to hunt down the original disc, I merely install the Daemon Tools
disc emulator and use it to mount the ISO image,
which Daemon Tools uses to emulate a physical CD/DVD drive with that disc
inserted. Besides being entirely convenient, it actually works faster than
having the physical disc in a local drive.
For software that allows a limited number of installs (i.e. MS Office Student
and Teacher Edition 2003, which allows 3 active installs) I make a note in
the .key.txt file every time I install or uninstall the software on a system,
thus allowing for easy tracking of usage vs. licensing requirements.
The files and images can also be stored on an external USB hard drive for the
same basic functionality if the systems aren't networked or a network shared
drive is not available. Also note that the programs I recommend to make the
ISOs (ImgBurn) as well as to use the ISOs for installation (Daemon Tools) are
This technique allows me to install or reinstall all of the software I use on
any system quickly and efficiently, without ever needing the physical discs.
In fact the systems don't even need an optical drive, or for example I can
install DVD based software on older systems that only have CD drives.
Overall this technique makes installing applications on new systems a breeze!