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How to backup DVDs digitaly using HandBrake

By   WirelessPhreak      Monday, December 31, 2018      Labels:  

Not so recently I purchased a lifetime license for Plex, but never really used it. It seemed like most everything I wanted to watch was already on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. But when those streaming services let me down and I didn't want to re-purchase the digitally copy of a DVD I already owned I figured, why not digitize my physical DVDs?

So I stared searching the web and came across an excellent article by HowToGeek,com on backing up DVDs to digital copies using HandBreak. Being a Mac guy I was already familiar with Handbrake and loved it for converting media files, but I didn't know it could also back up my DVDs? So I wanted to post the Apple specific how to for backing up your DVD collection. For the entire article including the windows specific how to please visit the how to geek article linked above.

Step 1
Download and install Handbrake, which you can download here. Out of the box Handbrake can rip DVDs that are not copy protected or convert media files from one format to another…but almost all DVDs you buy in the store are copy protected. Getting around this is a weirdly gray area legally, so applications like Handbrake can’t legally include the software needed to decrypt copy protected DVDs. You can, however, download it separately as long as you’re just using this to watch a movie on your computer you physicaly own,

The software you'll need to install for backing up encrypted DVDs is called libdvdcss. This will let Handbrake read your encrypted DVDs and rip them to your computer. The process is a little different for Windows and Mac users, so if you are installing this on windows please visit the HowToGeek article. Note that you don’t have to do this every time you rip a DVD once libdvdcss is installed, you can skip to Step Two each time you rip a new disc.

Step 2
If you’re on El Capitan or newer, we’re going to use a command line tool called Homebrew. Sidebar if you’re not familiar with Homebrew this tool is awesome, spend some time looking into it. Basically they have created a software repository like apt-get for debian or yum for redhat I cant say enough good things about it. Fortunately, it only takes a few Terminal commands to install Homebrew if you haven’t already.

Once Homebrew is installed you can install libdvdcss. Open a the Terminal command line window on your mac. Then, type in brew install libdvdcss and hit enter. This will install libdvdcss, that's all you need to do.

Step 3
Once you’ve installed libdvdcss, it’s time to get ripping. Open Handbrake and choose your DVD drive from the sidebar that appears.

Handbrake will take a moment to scan the titles on your DVD. Wait until this process is finished. It should only take a moment. If libdvdcss wasn’t installed incorrectly, you’ll see an error saying that the disc can’t be read here instead.

Once your DVD is open, head to the “Title” dropdown box and choose which title you want to rip. By default, Handbrake will choose the movie, but if you want to rip any special features or deleted scenes, you can change the target you want to rip here. You can also change which chapters you want to rip, if you only want part of the movie. I chose to allow Handbrake to select the movie and it worked perfect for me.

Under Destination, click Browse to pick where you want to place the movie after you’ve ripped it.

Step 4
Next, you’ll need to decide the quality of your output file. The higher quality the movie, the more space it will take on your hard drive. If you’re technical, you can use the Picture, Video, and Audio tabs to adjust these settings, but most people only need to click one thing: a Preset.
Along the right side of the Handbrake window, you’ll see a selection of Presets (if you don’t see it, drag the corner of Handbrake’s window and expand it until you do). There are presets for nearly anything you could need: Apple TV, Android phones, PlayStation, and lots more. If you’re watching on your computer, use one of the “General” presets—“Fast” and “Very Fast” will be low quality but small in size, while “HQ” and “Super HQ” will have higher quality but take up more space.

Step 5
Once you’ve chosen your Title and Preset, click Start Encode at the top of the window. You’ll see a progress bar along the bottom that will let you know how much time you have left in the rip. Higher quality rips will take longer, so you’ll want to let your computer run for a while.

Once the rip is done, you should be able to double-click on it to watch it! Or, if you’re using a movie library program like Plex, go ahead and copy the file to your media server library.

About WirelessPhreak

Just your everyday Packet Wrangler who enjoy's traveling and anything techie...