Here's how to rip and convert DVDs to ISO format.

Brian Burgess, Executive Editor, BYTE

June 25, 2011

4 Min Read

If you have a lot of DVDs in your collection and want to back them up, turn each one into an ISO file. Then just burn the ISO files to blank discs and store them.

First, download and install the latest version of DVDFab. This program is free for 30 days.

For now, you can use it to burn your DVD collection into an ISO file that's handy. First, follow its install Wizard and accept the defaults.

You'll need a disc burning application, too. If you don't have one, I recommend you download load and install the latest version of ImgBurn.

Installation is basic following the wizard and accepting the defaults.

Note: When you get to the screen asking if you want to install the Ask Toolbar--uncheck each of the boxes. This feature is useless. You don’t need to install it to use ImgBurn. Keep your browser clean.

Insert the DVD in the drive and DVDFab will read the disc information. Then click on Main Movie in the left panel.

Set Source to DVD. Set Target to the directory where you want to save the VOB files -- these are the files on the DVD that contain the information you're backing up. Under the DVD Copy -- Main Movie menu, select the radio button next to the one with the longest playtime. Click Next.

On the next screen, type a title into the Volume Label field. I recommend you type in the name of the DVD and disc number if it comes from a box.

Click Start to begin the decoding. The amount of time it takes to decode will vary based on the length of the DVD. In my example here, decoding the Taken DVD took just over 8 minutes.

The system completes the decoding process and will pop up a message letting you know it’s done. Click OK to close out of the message, then click Finish. Close out of DVDFab.

Now launch ImgBurn. Two screens pop up. One is the main interface where you select your burning options. The other is a log that show its actions during the burning process.

From the main control window click on Write Files / Folders to Disc.

In the Source section click the icon for Add Folder.

Browse to the directory that contains the VOB files from the DVD you just decoded. Select the entire VIDEO_TS folder instead of individual files of the Main Movie.

Then under Destination, browse to the location you want the ISO to be placed. You should also select the Labels tab and type in a Volume Label in both the ISO and UDF fields, then click the Build Image button.

If you forget to enter in Volume Labels, ImgBurn will bring up a dialog telling you one hasn’t been specified and create one for you. Nice touch.

While the ISO is being built, ImgBurn shows a progress screen and allows you to monitor the log as well. One thing I do during the image building process is check the box to Close Program after the image is created.

Otherwise, you get a loud and annoying jingle when it's done. If this is the first time you’re using it, don’t check the box and you'll know what I mean.

When the process is complete, browse to the destination folder and you'll find the ISO image of the DVD there.

The next thing I do is play the ISO image to verify the audio and video. My favorite free player is VLC, which will play an ISO video image directly without having to mount the image on a virtual disk.

Ah, you're done. Good! Don't forget to store the ISO on your server, Network Attached Storage (NAS), or external drive for use at a later time with the ISO image you can burn it to blank DVD using the Windows Disc Image Burner that is built into Windows 7.

Note: DVDFab doesn’t clean up after itself. You must go back to the folder where you saved the decoded DVD files to manually delete them.

It's always a great idea to back up your DVD collection at home or the office. Just keep in mind that you'll need plenty of storage space.

If you want to save space, but still have your ripped DVDs in great quality, check out how to convert them to MKV format.

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

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