Holding onto a heavy DVD or Blu-ray collection can result in tough times when your collection grows too large. What if you have to move? After all, finding a place to store hundreds (or thousands) of discs and cases is hard work, as is keeping all of your discs in tip-top condition while moving.

Fortunately, for those of us who are willing to part with some of our praised physical media, there is another option: digitize or “copy” your DVDs and Blu-rays to a home computer. The process itself is fairly straightforward, but it does involve some hardware, software, and a bit of patience. To help you transcode your huge movie collection, we’ve compiled this handy guide.

Warning

Technically, if the work is copyrighted, it is illegal to do so, even if you are the owner. To be clear, we do not tolerate or encourage the illegal copying and / or reproduction of copyrighted materials. That being said, if you have home videos (or, really, anything that is not copyrighted), you can do whatever you want with them, and that includes digitizing them.

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What you need to rip a DVD or Blu-ray and what you need to know

We have listed the items you need above, but here are more details:

  • Your DVD or Blu-ray (s)

  • A DVD or Blu-ray Disc Drive on Your Computer – You won’t copy anything without one. If your computer doesn’t have the right disc drive, you can buy an external DVD or a good Blu-ray drive for as little as $ 25.

  • Enough storage on a hard drive to hold copied files – Blu-rays can take up a lot of storage, so we recommend having 30GB to 60GB of free hard drive space if you’re looking to copy one.

  • A program to copy the files: We will use MakeMKV in this guide, which is available for both Windows and MacOS.

  • A program to transcode the file after copying: We recommend Handbrake, which is also available for Windows and MacOS.

  • A VLC media player to watch your video

How to rip a DVD or Blu-ray with MakeMKV

Whether you are using Windows or MacOS or ripping a Blu-ray or DVD, the process is identical for all of them.

Step 1: Download and install MakeMKV and open the application after completion.

Step 2: The app will say “MakeMKV BETA” at the top; ignore this and insert your DVD or Blu-ray into the optical drive.

Step 3: Once the program recognizes your disk, click on the large disk drive icon to begin the removal procedure. Theoretically, this process could also remove copyright protections from a disc, but again, that’s not something we endorse or encourage.

Stage 4: Once you’ve selected your disc, MakeMKV will return you a list of chapters and segments that you can copy. To copy just the movie and not the extras or bonus material, select just the movie chapter or segment (usually the longest title or the largest file) and uncheck all other boxes.

Step 5: Designate an output folder where you would like the file to end once it has been copied.

Step 6: When you’re ready to start, press the Make MKV right button. This process can take anywhere from two minutes to a half hour depending on your computer specifications and file size, but when you’re done, you should have an MKV file waiting in the specified folder.

Exceptions

In some cases, you don’t even need to convert this file as MKV files are compatible with desktop and mobile versions of VLC as well as Plex’s media server. If those are your main methods of watching videos from your library, you can stop here. Still, it may be advisable to convert these files to save space. Blu-ray files, in particular, tend to be massive. This is why you will want to employ a transcoding program, which will minimize the file size and / or play the file on multiple devices.

A Note About 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs

With 4K increasingly becoming the standard for both movies and TV series, many of you are likely amassing a whole new collection of Ultra HD Blu-rays. Many of these movies come with digital copies, but what if yours didn’t, or if you just prefer an alternative delivery system to applications that require these codes?

One of the most important things you will need if you decide to embark on this painful journey is patience. If you’re looking to rip a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, it is possible, but be prepared to spend precious time troubleshooting any strange issues that may arise. Despite how good MakeMKV has been over the years, it now supports thousands of UHD discs, there are still persistent problems with certain combinations of disc drives and firmware, and not all Blu-ray discs are created the same. manner.

Just because you have successfully copied your copy of Star Wars: Episode IV does not mean that you will get the same result with a comparable copy of The dark knight. Some of you may have trouble extracting HDR data and finding the formula to crack proprietary codecs like Dolby Atmos, which has proven to be a substantial hurdle.

If you’re prepared to deal with all of that, remember we’re still in the early days of this so it’s not exactly easy, even for those who are familiar with ripping other discs. First, you need a specific 4K Blu-ray drive to rip these discs, and you probably don’t have one. There may also be some additional advanced steps to take, such as creating a text file with the decryption keys or downgrading the associated firmware.

Ultimately this may prove to be more troublesome than it’s worth, but if you’re unfazed after all these warnings and decide you want to go ahead with ripping your 4K Blu-ray discs, check out the MakeMKV forums for more information. The UHD FAQ thread, in particular, is a good place to start.

How to transcode with Handbrake

Once you have successfully ripped your DVD or Blu-ray, you likely have a large file that needs to be transcoded for use on different devices. However, before transcoding, it is a good idea to make sure your video looks good. We suggest using VLC to do it.

Step 1: To get started, install and open HandBrake (which you can get here for free), click Fountain in the upper left corner and find the file you just copied.

Step 2: Now you can decide where you want to see your video. The app developers have already created presets for many products.

Step 3: There are a few different options for iOS and Android devices, as well as Sony and Microsoft consoles, in addition to various streaming devices. You can also modify any of these presets and save them under new names or create custom presets from scratch.

Stage 4: Selecting one of these presets will automatically adjust all the settings to suit your choice.

Use HandBrake to resize files

You can also use HandBrake to resize files.

Step 1: If you have a huge MKV file, for example, you can choose a preset in the “Matroska” subset (MKV stands for Matroska Video) and run the program to shrink that file.

Step 2: If you’re transcoding a Blu-ray disc, the process works the same way, but you’ll want to select different settings to avoid any unnecessary compression and preserve video quality.

Step 3: For DVDs, there is no reason to select a resolution higher than 480p. This will only increase the file size without improving the quality. For Blu-ray discs, you’ll want to choose between 720p and 1080p; To save space, we recommend selecting 720p for anything that doesn’t take advantage of Full HD. For videos with more visual content, 1080p is probably worth choosing.

Stage 4: Generally speaking, the “High Profile” preset, located in the Legacy subset, is a good place to start, with the passthrough audio codecs selected (choose an HD audio option for lossless, if that’s your bag) and a constant RF Quality value of 18 or so. This is primarily a personal preference, so you need to experiment to find out what works best.

Step 5: Once you’ve decided on your desired output, choose a file destination and click Start.

Step 6: This part will take a while, so sit back, relax, and let HandBrake do its thing. Once the process is complete, you will have a new file ready to play on your chosen device. This process is also repeatable.

Step 7: If you have several different devices, you can simply change the presets and run the program for the same DVD or Blu-Ray again (as long as you have selected a new destination to avoid overwriting the previous result).

That’s it! You have successfully ripped and transcoded a DVD or Blu-ray disc. Now start watching using a media server like Plex or your favorite media player.

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