Rip and Burn: DVD Backup on the Mac

by postbreak

This weekend I had some free time so I figured I would take another look at DVD backup solutions on the Mac. Windows users have always had DVDShrink and a few other tools but with a few applications you can quickly backup your DVDs and make a copy for archiving in the event the original gets scratched.

Before I get into what applications I use I want to talk about the state of the “SuperDrive” in current and past Macs. Besides the expensive Mac Pro most Mac computers top out at 8x read speed and even as recent as two years ago that speed was halved to 4x. If your Mac has a read speed of 4x or even 8x you might want to look into getting an external drive like this one. I say this because I can rip one of my movies to my hard drive in roughly 12 minutes where as my internal 4x Superdrive takes over 25 minutes. If you are serious about archiving DVDs invest in a faster DVD burner, you’ll thank me when you do.

Ripping

There are a few applications out there that can do the job. Fairmount uses a hook in VLC to mount an encrypted DVD as an unencrypted volume allowing you to just drag and drop your VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS files right in Finder. Thats nice but it doesn’t check for errors or DVD region. I use Mactheripper instead. Mactheripper allows you all of the advanced features you could ask for. Simply put your DVD in, open Mactheripper, and rip your DVD.

Some things to note. Pay attention to Disc RCE: if it says “CLEAR” then leave everything default. If it says anything else change the option in “RCE Region” to the region where you purchased the DVD. North America is “1” and so on. You can find the rest of the regions with a quick Google search.

Here is a screenshot of me ripping my DVD Gone in 60 Seconds. The DVD is scratched and I want a backup before it’s not readable anymore. You can see that the “DISC RCE-” is set to clear so the “RCE Region” is default to “Off”.

Remastering

Dual layer DVDs are expensive so I don’t buy them. Instead I compress my DVDs down until they fit onto a standard 4.7GB blank. To do this I use DVDRemaster. DVDRemaster allows you to compress certain parts of the DVD, remove parts you don’t want, and even encode these raw files for you iPod or other devices. Compressing these files down takes about 8 minutes on my two year old Macbook and it only uses about 50-60% of my CPU.

This screenshot shows that I am leaving the main title at 1.00 compression where as all the bonus features and extra video is compressed to 1.20, the highest setting. You can choose to leave the extra features out but I personally like the DVD menu to remain working especially if you are doing a full backup instead of just ripping the main movie.

Burning

This part of the guide will probably get the most scrutiny. I personally use Disco for all of my burning needs but you can use any application you’d like. OSX’s built in burning feature can even burn these files if need be. Your mileage will very if you try to play back these DVDs on standard DVD players. Keep in mind that this guide was made with the intent of backing up your DVDs for archiving instead of pirating.

One more thing

You can take this one step further if you have Lightscribe media and a Lightscribe drive. My external DVD drive is a random Lightscribe drive I got from a friend and an external enclosure I purchased off of Newegg.com You can use Lacie’s Lightscribe software found here. It’s free and I can vouch that it works on any Lightscribe drive, not just their own.

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