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How To Rip And Convert DVDs to MKV Format in Windows 7

Here's how to back up DVDs to a quality MKV format.

Now that you've decrypted the protection on the DVD and ripped it, launch HandBrake. This is to start the conversion process. Click the Source tab, then hit Folder.

Navigate to the target folder.

HandBrake will gather the information and populate the various fields. The default destination of the file will be your local Videos folder, but you can change it to something else if you want.

Under Output Settings change the container to MKV file.

I prefer MKV format because its size/quality ratio rocks. Together the VOB files are around 4GB. HandBrake will convert them into a single MKV file that's just over 1.5GB -- with good DVD quality.

Check out the available settings on the right. These include deep naming and optimization settings. I keep the converted files on my Windows Home Server, so I'm leaving the default settings at Normal.

If you want to do additional tweaking to the output file -- options include Aspect Ratio, Audio Quality, Subtitles and more -- select the tabs and make adjustments. Explore. Setting tweakers love the range of options. Or select a Preset. Your choice.

Once you have all of your settings for the final MKV output file, click Start at the top. This creates the MKV file. Monitor the progress.

The amount of time it takes to create the MKV file will depend on the size of the DVD, the quality settings, and the speed of your hardware. On my Intel Core3 computer with 8GB of RAM, it took about 35 minutes. When it's done, navigate to the output folder to find the file.

Now anyone on the network you allow will be able to watch your DVD -- from a single MKV file with good quality. At home, I usually store these files on my home server or an external drive. This saves local hard drive space.

Note: DVDFab doesn't delete the VOB files it ripped automatically. It's a good idea to go back and clean them up. Just go back to the directory you set as the output source and manually delete them.

I highly suggest you back up all your DVDs in the workplace and at home.

Brian Burgess is the executive editor at BYTE. Follow him @mysticgeek. Got a comment or idea? Send it to him at

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