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It’s becoming very common these days for people to “back up” their DVDs and Blu-Rays CDs Are Not Forever: The Truth About CD/DVD Longevity, "Mold" & "Rot" CDs Are Not Forever: The Truth About CD/DVD Longevity, "Mold" & "Rot" The digital age has revolutionized the way we handle information. Never before could humankind record and store so much information and in such diversity. While the amount of data has increased exponentially, the predicted life... Read More onto their computer. This despite the fact that the exact legality for making backups is murky at best. But my own personal opinion is that “if you own it, you can do what you want with it”. Watch it, burn it, eat it, use it as a frisbee in the park, whatever.

But how do you do it? Which programs are the best at ripping those disks Easily & Quickly Rip DVDs With These Windows Apps Easily & Quickly Rip DVDs With These Windows Apps People have been ripping DVDs for years, so most people assume it's an entirely solved problem. That’s not the case. Searching Google for "rip dvd" will present a variety of options and articles. Some are... Read More ? Which ones eat copy protection for breakfast? Here are nine free tools to consider.

MakeMKV

Intuitive cross-platform tool to rip DVDs and Blu-Rays.

I have previously written about MakeMKV Rip Your DVDs & Blu-Rays With Absolute Ease With MakeMKV [Cross-Platform] Rip Your DVDs & Blu-Rays With Absolute Ease With MakeMKV [Cross-Platform] If you ripped all your DVDs and Blu-Rays, you could create an amazing media center. Of course the main obstacle to ripping is the disk's copy protection. Enter our hero: MakeMKV. Read More , where I showed my love for this app. It is simply a case of entering the disk, and then point and click. Don’t touch the other settings unless you absolutely know what you are doing. Choose whether you want subtitles or not. Choose your language. Deselect everything you don’t need. Then let MakeMKV do its work. DVDs are very fast (normally no more than 10 minutes) and Blu-Rays range from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the length of the movie, and the extras you want.

The one downside is that you are then going to end up with enormous files if you rip a Blu-Ray (up to around 6GB is common). But this is a crystal-clear copy of the disk. For archiving purposes, it is perfect. However, if space is tight, you can convert it to MP4 or AVI formats, which will shrink the file considerably (and in some cases, the picture and audio quality will suffer).

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Handbrake

A versatile cross-platform and open source application that supports multiple output formats and can also convert files The Mega Guide to Media File Conversion Tools in Windows The Mega Guide to Media File Conversion Tools in Windows Wondering how to best convert that media file? This is your guide out of the media file jungle. We compiled the most relevant media file conversion tools and show you how to use them. Read More .

handbrake

This leads me neatly to Handbrake. You can use Handbrake 5 Clever Things You Can Do with HandBrake 5 Clever Things You Can Do with HandBrake HandBrake is a powerful tool, designed to help you get the most out of your digital media. We have compiled some of HandBrake's most ingenious uses. Check it out! Read More for converting those big MKV files into MP4 files, and you can also directly burn DVD and Blu-Ray disks to MP4 or MKV. Choose a profile, depending on what device you are ripping for (iPod, iPad, normal, etc), decide if you want the subtitles How To Use Handbrake To Attach Subtitles To A Movie File How To Use Handbrake To Attach Subtitles To A Movie File Read More , then hit Start. The other settings should be left alone, unless you know exactly what you are doing.

The software is cross-platform, free, and open-source. Plus it is in continual development, so it has the potential to get better and better.

Freemake Video Converter

A great Windows tool to not only rip discs, but also convert and merge files.

Freemake (our Freemake review Freemake - An Easy Video Converter For Windows Freemake - An Easy Video Converter For Windows Read More ) is one of my favorites, because it has never once screwed up anything I have thrown at it. You just need to insert the disk, point Freemake towards the disk’s folder, decide what format you want it converted to, and Bob’s your uncle. You can even join up files to have one big merged file. Videos can also be converted to Flash or HTML5, as well as MP3.

One great feature is when you rip it to become a DVD, you can also add a menu with clickable chapter titles.

freemake2

WinX DVD Ripper

Will convert your DVDs to various outputs, including mobile ready file formats.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of a free copy of the paid Platinum version, when they did a promotion a few months back. But for most people, the free version will more than suffice.

The free version will rip a DVD to MP4, WMV, AVI, FLV, MOV, MPEG, H.264, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, Android, Samsung, HTC, and PSP. It can also rip copy-protected DVDs as far back as Windows XP.

The Platinum version will do all that, as well as rip a DVD to an ISO file, rip the disk in 10 minutes, as well as allowing cropping, trimming, and subtitles. It is a worthy contender to Handbrake and Freemake.

Aurora

Rips Blu-Rays to ISO files on Windows and Mac.

Aurora is free cross-platform (Windows & Mac) software which focuses on Blu-Rays only. It will burn the Blu-Ray disk into an ISO file What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7 What Are ISO Files & How You Can Create, Use & Burn Them For Free In Windows 7 ISO files can be created from any CD or DVD you have lying around. They’re called "disc images" because they’re an exact image of a disc. An ISO file contains an exact representation of the... Read More , and then burn the ISO file onto blank disks (if you want to do that part). It claims it can “easily decrypt any type of Blu-Ray”, and when I tested it on a Blu-Ray of mine, the conversion was indeed very fast.

Aurora too claims that it can work on Windows computers as old as XP (SP2). On a Mac, it will work on computers operating OS X 10.6.

CloneDVD

Windows tool to rip DVDs to ISO files.

As the name suggests, CloneDVD….well…clones your DVD disk. After inserting it into your hard-drive, choose which chapters you want copied, choose your language, whether you want subtitles, and off you go. Once the file, in DVD format, has been copied to your computer, you can then burn the ISO to a blank DVD disk CDBurnerXP - A Great Burning Tool For CDs DVDs, Blu-Rays & ISOs [Windows] CDBurnerXP - A Great Burning Tool For CDs DVDs, Blu-Rays & ISOs [Windows] Optical discs are not forever, but although they are losing significance, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are still a great medium for long term backups, given you store them right and don't use them as your... Read More , use software like Handbrake to turn it into a simple MP4 file, or mount the ISO file No DVD Drive? No Problem! Create And Mount ISO Files For Free With These Tools No DVD Drive? No Problem! Create And Mount ISO Files For Free With These Tools My computer doesn’t have any optical drives anymore. That means CD drives, DVD drives, Floppy drives--they’ve all been cut out and done away with forever. If a particular piece of peripheral gear doesn’t have a... Read More  on your computer using a virtual drive.

They also have versions of the software for Blu-Ray disks, and for mobile devices.

DVD Shrink

Windows application to compress DVD rips into more compact files.

DVDShrink

DVD Shrink is so called because one of its main “selling points” is that it will shrink the size of the burned file for you. A standard DVD-R disk is 4.7 GB, and sometimes you will find that your burned file exceeds this size. So DVD Shrink will compress the data from the original disk, to make the file as small as possible.

You can also make a compilation from one or more source disks, as well as discarding any parts you don’t need. It will burn and shrink to WMV, AVI, MP4, MOV, and MKV format. It is free of charge, for Windows only, and they invite donations to keep the project going.

VLC Player

Famous for playing any file, this open source and cross-platform program can also burn DVDs.

Who around here needs any introduction to VLC Player 7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player 7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player That VLC pretty much plays everything that you throw at it is old news. It is also a media genie when it comes to other things apart from playing movies. We looked at some of... Read More ? No I didn’t think so. VLC Player has rightfully earned a reputation for being able to play virtually anything you can throw at it The VLC Media Player - Does it Really Play Everything? The VLC Media Player - Does it Really Play Everything? Read More . I haven’t yet found a file it couldn’t handle, and that is just remarkable. But did you know VLC also burned DVD disks?

As you can see from the image above, choose what you want converted, select No disc menus (if you don’t want them), point VLC to the disk location on your hard drive, then click Convert/Save. Ripping can take quite some time, though. Some users have reported it taking up to two hours. Whereas something like MakeMKV or Freemake can do it in 15-20 minutes.

DVDFab

A Windows only open source DVD ripping tool that can rip a batch of titles at the same time, audio only, or specific segments.

DVDFab is also a ripping app which has received a lot of positive praise from friends. As well as ripping disks to the usual formats, it can also rip only the audio. So if you are after a piece of music for your iPhone/iPod, then DVD Fab can grab it for you. Batch conversion allows you to rip more than one title at a time, and the whole software is run on open-source code What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More .

Specify exactly the start point and end point that you want converted in a disk (which is great for music concerts How To Extract Your Concert DVD Audio to MP3 With 4 Simple Tools How To Extract Your Concert DVD Audio to MP3 With 4 Simple Tools Read More ), and you can also automatically crop the screen to show what you want.

There are obviously many more ripping tools out there, but these are the 8 which I personally like or have had recommended to me by friends. In case your favorite is not on the list, please let us know about it in the comments below and tell us what is so good about it.

Image Credits: Burning CD via Shutterstock

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