So you’re sitting there staring at a perfectly good stack of DVDs. Then you look at the other stack. You know the ones. Those DVDs that met with an untimely demise during to be scratched or messed up by other means. Clearly the logical course of action to any sane person would be to back up the DVDs onto another form of media. This way the investment is protected and you’re not going to fall victim to changing technologies; like VHS to DVD to Blu-ray. Hey, it happens. Now before getting all excited at the prospect of being able to backup your DVDs, there is something you should be aware of. According to the folks at the MPAA, you don’t actually own anything. No silly, you are merely licensing a silver disc loaded with content you can use at their discretion. Fun, huh?

Legal jargon: Backing up your DVDs. The MPAA claims that it’s illegal due to the breaking of encryption without using a licensed device or software. Despite this claim however, this line of thought hasn’t been tested in court for personal use with backup software. The MPAA is more focused on piracy and less about Mom and Pop users who wish to keep safe, something they actually purchased. So unless you’re selling software or redistributing your backups, you might (like others), may choose to take this with a grain of salt. I guess it depends on where you live and when in doubt, check with a legal professional if you’re worried about it.

How To Back Up Your DVD Collection
Photo by swanksalot

Okay, once you’re done laughing hysterically at the absurdity of it all and assuming you’re “on a boat in international waters” where you can backup DVDs you’re legally purchased, you will want to locate software that will allow you backup your DVDs safely. From everything I have seen, nothing even comes close to the power of an application called HandBrake.

Basic operation

Once you have the HandBrake application installed, just pop in a DVD and open up the HandBrake application. At the upper left corner, you will click the Source button. Depending on the OS you’re running, you’re going to want to select the DVD-ROM drive that contains the DVD that you own. And by one you own the rights to, I am assuming you are ripping that DVD of your wedding or something of the like.

So once you’ve selected the DVD drive with the video content in it, you’ll want to choose “Open Folder (DVD or batch)”. While it might not be needed, I have found that when I am backing up video content, this method ensures that everything will be recompiled in such a way as to play on your computer nicely. Once this is done, click OK.

Files and formats

At this stage, you’re going to want to decide what presets you want to use, the format to go with and a location for the file to be saved to. My personal recommendations (assuming a very fast computer) are to use the following. High profile (on the right hand side), MP4 and you can save it wherever. Also, I recommend clicking over to the Chapters tab. Depending on the content you’re backing up from disk, you may wish to uncheck Chapter markers.

At this point, you can go ahead and run with the Start button. Remember though, this is best suited for a very fast computer with plenty of resources.