Sponsored: Save time and precious shelf space by digitising your DVD collection.
Although once mighty, the humble DVD – our first mainstream foray into digital video technology – is getting long in the tooth. DVD has since been replaced by the higher-definition Blu-ray and even higher-definition UHD format. Still, whether minimal or mighty, your home DVD collection may contain irreplaceable content, such as movies that never made their way to Blu-ray, obscure TV series, or even special features that are only available in the ageing digital format.
This means there are reasons beyond sentimentality – though that’s a pretty strong driving force, too – for keeping your DVD collection. But that doesn’t mean your DVD library has to take up prized shelf space. Nor should you be expected to wait through trailers, tacky loading screens, or anti-piracy warnings to get to your DVD content. This is why you should seriously consider digitising your DVD collection, to both preserve shelf space and access it more conveniently.
Picking the right ripper
There are a lot of choices when it comes to DVD-ripping software, across free and premium offerings. The thing to take into account is you want to have straightforward access to three core features. First, DVD ripping, for digitising content. Second, video encoding options to match rips to your intended playback screen or technology. Third, the option for DVD editing, for when you only want certain content and not everything.
Here are three choices for DVD ripping available today. (It should go without saying, but this guide should only be used to rip DVDs you personally own, and will continue to own. It’s intended only for personal use.)
WinX DVD Ripper
Out of the gate, WinX DVD Ripper is great for first-time rippers and experienced digitisers because it’s been designed to be easy to learn, but also has a depth of features.
WinX DVD Ripper can rip your DVD collection, one disc at a time, with three simple clicks. When you click ‘Run’, WinX DVD Ripper automatically removes the embedded DVD encryption, decodes the DVD content, and sniffs out the right content without forcing new users to mess around with any complicated settings.
The ripping software uses a unique encoding engine, with support for hardware acceleration, which means it can decode and encode a feature-length DVD in around five minutes. That’s for the DVD-to-MP4 (H.264) profile, which reaches ripping speeds between 300 to 500 frames per second. There are other compression standards available, as part of more than 350 preloaded profiles.
Basically, this means you have options. Decode and encode DVD to common MOV, MP4, AVI, MPEG, WMG, and M2TS formats (among others). You can also rip the DVD (without re-encoding) to ISO, a video folder, or MPEG 2. You can even digitise for specific devices, such as DVD to iOS, Android, Microsoft and Sony consoles, NAS, and others.
You can also improve your future digitised playback experience by removing letterboxing, which takes up precious screen real estate, or by shifting the aspect ratio between 16:9 and 4:3. Additionally, you can tweak digitising factors like bitrate, frame-rate, resolution. Plus, you can trim video clips or add external SRT subtitles.
You can find out more about WinX DVD Ripper here.
The first of the free options, what HandBrake wins in its lack of price it loses in user-friendliness, which means it’s not an ideal ripping solution for entry-level digitisers.
Even experienced users may be stumped by HandBrake, especially when it comes to DVD decoding. You can use HandBrake to rip from DVD disc, ISO, or directly from a video folder, but you might encounter error messages such as ‘No valid source or titles found’ when attempting to rip copy-protected DVDs from your collection.
You can bypass CSS copy protection with add-ins like ‘libdvdcss’ but, again, that’s not a user-friendly process, and that’s only specific type of DVD CSS copy protection that can be bypassed with HandBrake.
When it comes to encoding, HandBrake does include settings, such as x264, H.264 (Intel QSV) to CRV, 2-Pass, and Turbo first pass. There are also presets, but there’s an art to learning how to use HandBrake. For instance, it’s not easy to configure video settings to avoid distorted images, balance ripping time, output quality, and file size. HandBrake is regularly updated, but to get the most out of it, you need to be willing to research.
Before there was HandBrake, there was DVDShrink, which used to be the go-to software for free DVD ripping. DVDShrink used to be primarily used for creating a backup copy of an owned DVD disc, to avoid concerns over playback issues that come from scratches and other damage to the underside of a DVD.
The catch, though, is DVDShrink hasn’t been updated for years. It has a basic user interface that’s matched by basic functionality. It can digitise from DVD disc and video folder sources (no ISO files), but there are limitations. For instance, it only has support for DVDs with specific region codes, and it can only bypass certain types of copy protection.
Despite the straightforward user-interface, DVDShrink isn’t particularly user-friendly, mostly because of the additional steps required to digitise. It’s a fast option for compressing and extracting DVD content to a ‘Video_TS’ folder or ISO image, but then you have to digitise or burn it with other third-party software. This means there’s no option or presets for creating digital outputs within DVDShrink, so it’s not a one-stop-shop DVD digitiser.
Out of these three options, you can save some money on the free options. But if you want to save time and have an intuitive experience, it’s worth considering coughing up some cash for WinX DVD Ripper.