How to Copy a DVD using Windows

by Ross McKillop on September 30, 2010

Windows

This very detailed tutorial will take you through all the steps required to copy a DVD if you’re using Windows (from XP up to Windows 7).

Here goes. There are dozens and dozens of programs that you can purchase and use to copy a DVD (ie. make a backup copy). This tutorial will show you how to do it for free – using the outstanding piece of software DVDShrink.

A few things to note up front. First, making backup copies of certain DVD’s may or may not be legal depending on where you live. In a nutshell, this is usually because in order to copy a DVD, you have to “break” the encryption. DVDShrink includes the ability to break this encryption. Make sure to understand the legal consequences of making a backup of your DVD before doing so.

In addition, it’s due to the encryption-breaking (decrypting) feature of DVDShrink that it’s not available to download from the DVDShrink home page. What you need to do is search Google for phrases like dvdshrink32setup.zip and/or dvdshrink32setup.exe. Once you have located the file, download it – but do not open it or run it.

There is only one way to be certain that the file you have downloaded is in fact DVDShrink – and not a “fake” version of it, or even worse, one that contains a virus or other form of malware. You’ll need to compare the MD5 signature of the file you downloaded to the officially provided one. If that last sentence didn’t make any sense to you – don’t worry – it’s very easy, and we’ve got you covered. Follow the steps outlined in the tutorial How to match an MD5 hash with a file in Windows. In fact, the tutorial uses DVDShrink itself as the example, so it’s even easier to follow along!

The installation of DVDShrink itself is very straight forward – you’ll mostly just click Next a bunch of times. Once it’s installed – follow the steps below to start copying/making backups of your DVDs.

  1. Insert a DVD into your DVD-ROM or DVD+/-RW drive. If Windows launches a DVD player (or any other software) – close it. If you check the DVD drive, you may notice that the DVD is more than a standard blank DVD can hold (which is 4.71GB). In the example screenshot below, the DVD I’m using is 7.93GB. While you could use a dual-layer DVD disc (assuming your drive supports burning dual-layer discs) – they’re more expensive. The easier solution is to take out the sections of the DVD that you don’t want (which may include some of the “extras”, additional audio tracks (eg. the French/Spanish or other language tracks you’ll never use, etc) using DVDShrink.
  2. Launch DVDShrink, and click the Open Disc button in the upper-left corner.

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  4. Select the DVD drive that contains the DVD you want to copy, then click OK.
  5. DVDShrink will now analyze the disc, and present you with a window somewhat similar to the screenshot below. There are two things you should make note of right away –

    1. #1 – the size of the Main Movie. As illustrated in the screenshot below, the size of the main feature of my DVD movie is 2.3GB. If I were to include all of the DVD Extras, soundtracks, etc – DVDShrink would have to compress almost all of the content – including the movie itself.
    2. #2 – the amount the main movie will have to be compressed. Again, as illustrated in the screenshot below, in order for me to make a full backup of my DVD, the main feature would have to be drastically compressed (nearly half). This means a very, very significant reduction in video quality.

    Both of these “problems” can be easily resolved.


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  7. Click the small plus sign (+ next to Extras (#1 below). Then select the Extras track with the largest file size. In my example screenshot below, the track Title 13-15 is the largest, at 592MB.

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  9. With that specific Extras track selected, click the small “play” button. This will allow you to preview/watch that specific Extras track. In my case, it’s an interview with one of the producers, and it’s something that I’ll never watch. So I’m going to ‘remove’ it from my final DVD backup.

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  11. With that Extra still selected, move your attention over to the Compression Settings pane on the right-side of the DVDShrink window. Select the Video drop-down menu, and then choose the Still Image option from the list.
  12. You’ll notice that the Video size will drastically reduce. In my example, the Extra that I replaced with a Still Image (a single picture instead of the video itself) went from 532MB to 98MB. This frees up 434MB of space – which means less compression for the main movie (and therefor better quality).
  13. Repeat steps #5 through #8 above with each of the Extras tracks that you don’t need/want. I went from 1,483MB of Extras down to 283MB (as seen in #1 in the screenshot below). Now select Main Movie from the main list in the left panel. With it selected, you can see that the Compression Settings for the video went to 81.3% (in #2 in the screenshot below). By replacing the Extras with still images, I was able to significantly improve the quality of the main movie’s quality. But lets not stop there..

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  15. In the Audio section of the Compression Settings I completely removed the DTS 5.1-ch English, the AC3 5.1-ch French and AC3 2-ch – English Director’s Comment(ary) by unchecking the box next to each one. After doing this, the quality of the Main Movie itself has jumped up to 89.5% of the origonal. This isn’t quite good enough for me – I want the picture to be perfect.

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  17. So I went looking for other things to remove. The Unreferrenced Material section provided exactly what I was looking for. It was the “background” video that runs when you’re selecting chatpers of the movie. Since that’s basically useless, I replaced that content with a Still Image, the same as in step #7 of this tutorial.

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  19. Once I replaced the Unreferrenced Material with still images, I selected the Main Movie section again. Low and behold – the video is now at 100% quality – which means 0 compression. Perfect! As illustrated in step #2 in the screenshot below – I even have extra space on my DVD now – it’s only 4,198MB. If I wanted, I could go back and re-add some of the extras. However, I don’t. My main concern was having perfect copy of the video and audio – which I now do.

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  21. Click the Backup! button from the top menu of DVDShrink. When the Backup DVD window pops up, select Hard Disk Folder from the Select backup target: list. Then click the Browse… button.

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  23. Navigate to a folder on your Hard Drive where you want to store the DVD files. I opted for my Videos folder, but it doesn’t really matter what folder you select – as long as it’s on a hard drive with enough space. Make certain that the Create VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS subfolders. box is checked, then click the OK button.

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  25. DVDShrink will now start the process of decryping your DVD and copying it to your hard drive. You’ll be able to monitor the status as it progresses.
  26. I have found that by unchecking the Enable Video Preview window will slightly decrease the overall time it takes.
  27. Once DVDShrink is done, it’ll display a Backup Complete window. Review the info, then click OK to close it.
  28. Navigate to the folder that you opted to save the DVD files in (back in step #13). You should find a VIDEO_TS folder and an AUDIO_TS folder.
  29. Congrats – you’ve successfully ripped a DVD! Now you’ll want to burn those DVD files to an actual DVD disc. To do so, follow the steps in the tutorial How to burn DVD files (a VIDEO_TS folder). .