How to Rip a DVD

dvd ripperWhile ripping CDs is a common activity performed by many software programs, even many advanced computer users don’t know how to rip a DVD. Ripping DVDs (geek-speak for copying onto your PC’s hard-drive) is good for making a backup of their content, or watching them on your PC , iPod, iPhone, Zune etc.

  • Determine that you, in fact, have the rights to copy the DVD for your own personal use. It is not legal to copy DVD’s for any and all purposes
  • Obtain a DVD ripping program. This is a bit easier said than done. Legal threats have deterred some of the larger software companies from distributing DVD ripping software. Thus the only software you will find will be from companies you may not have heard of. Do an online search on “DVD ripping software” for a list of options. Compare different products, read any disclosures carefully, and look for non-biased reviews (reviews that do not have conflicts of interest) on the products to decide on the right product for yourself.
  • Launch the DVD ripping program on your computer. This is any program that can read DVD format, extract the digital information, then encode it into a file format that is readable on your personal computer.
  • Insert the DVD into your computer’s DVD drive and follow the instructions.
  • Choose the drive the disc is inserted into.
  • Reauthor it. Choose the chapters, scenes and audio tracks you want to rip.
  • Click rip or backup.
  • Choose a destination folder.
  • Choose whether you want to rip it to files or a single file.
    • DVD-Movie discs are simply a collection of files. VIDEO_TS/AUDIO_TS structure with valid VOB, BUP and IFO files.
    • If you want to rip it to a single file it can be ISO or IMG. You can test these in VLC.
  • If its a commercial movie DVD its probably encrypted so you need decryption DVD ripping software.
  • Beware transcoding. Basic ripping doesn’t require transcoding unless you want to shrink it.


  • If you want to burn the ripped DVD to a fresh 4.7 GB DVD, often you will need to shrink it first, as original DVDs usually contain more than 4.7 GB of data. Use the excellent freeware program DVD Shrink for this. It can produce a ripped DVD directory that fits on a 4.7 GB disk, without discernable change in image or sound quality.
  • The ripping process could produce a dozen or more individual files, so it’s often best to create a new folder on your hard drive for each DVD.
  • If you are using a Mac, use a software like Handbrake that will make it easier to rip a DVD. It will let you rip the DVD in any format (like for iPod or iPhone: MPEG-4). It creates one individual file on your Mac and saves it to your desktop, so there or no worries about having multiple files.


  • CD/DVD copy protection is a blanket term for various methods of copy protection for CDs and DVDs. Such methods include DRM, CD-checks, Dummy Files, illegal tables of contents, over-sizing or over-burning the CD, physical errors, and bad sectors. Many protection schemes rely on breaking compliance with CD and DVD standards, leading to playback problems on some devices.Most CD-ROMs use the ISO9660 file term to organize the available storage space for use by a computer or player.
  • Understand copyright laws in your country before ripping any copyrighted DVD.
  • Do not promote or partake in piracy. Although there is some doubt over whether it is legal to copy your DVDs for your own use, making copyrighted DVDs available in the public realm is against the law.