Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Easy, Free DVD backup on Mac

There's lots of articles and howtos on the best way to backup DVDs. Half of them look too complicated, and the other half involve buying something, usually expensive.

My solution is free software - 'free' as in 'please contribute'. I think the first tool I use - DVDBackup - has already suffered because of lack of donations...

My requirement is to save the movie onto disk, using my Mac. Since my kids regularly demolish CDs, DVDs and other relatively fragile media, and I don't have a DVD burner, I prefer to save it as a file. I don't like [S]VCD formats either, and they're a hassle...

Having a portable, interoperable format (like MP4) is also useful if i'm travelling; my laptop's external CD/DVD drive and media itself are extra weight, and I travel light.

Four steps:
1 - pop in DVD
2 - run DVDBackup - google for "DVDBackup 1.3" and you'll find it
  • this will strip out all the encoded stuff and stick the film sans crap in a folder somewhere
  • the overall size will still be massive (6Gb or so), but DVDPlayer / VLC can play it fine
  • it takes a while...
3 - run HandBrake - go to
  • point it at the previous folder, choose format, desired file size and start
  • this shrinks it to a usable size, at the expense of quality
  • this takes even longer...
4 - make donations!

According to the Handbrake FAQ, it can do the second step itself, so you can avoid using DVDBackup. In my experience, especially with later DVDs, it can't; so I still use DVDBackup.

I did use ffmpegX, but I find the user interface too complicated - far too many options. However, this will convert to other formats that Handbrake won't. See the Handbrake FAQ on that too.

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