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Can I use chdman to put a CHD file back onto a hard disk?

Yes you can, at least under Windows. You have to be logged in as administrator, and you have to know which physical volume your target hard disk is mapped as. The easiest way to do that on Windows XP and later is to right click on My Computer and select Manage from the menu. In the Computer Management window, in the tree on the lefthand side, select Disk Management. That will show you a list of all the physical hard disks you have plugged in. They will be listed as "Disk 0", "Disk 1", etc. Make a note of which disk number your target hard disk is.

Once you've done that, it's easy to "image" the CHD file onto the disk. Just use the following syntax:

    chdman -extract imagename.chd \\.\PHYSICALDRIVEn

where "imagename.chd" is the name of the CHD file, and the "n" next to PHYSICALDRIVE is the disk number you figured out above.

This technique has been used by several people to restore dead hard drives on arcade games. Note that you can also use chdman to create a backup of a hard disk image in much the same way:

    chdman -createhd \\.\PHYSICALDRIVEn imagename.chd

Which is how most of the CHD images have been created.