How to rip a Blu-ray or DVD

Looking to rip a Blu-Ray or DVR to your hard drive? Our guide makes it easy

Gateway ZX4970 UR22 disc drive

If you have a sizable collection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs gathering dust, you might want to consider digitizing those bad boys so you can watch them on your phone, computer, or tablet anywhere, anytime. Plus, owning a backup means you won’t have to worry about how to fix a scratched DVD or CD.

While you might not yet know how to rip a Blu-ray or DVD, the process isn’t complicated if you’re comfortable with some basic software, but we’ll guide you through the process, just to make it as simple as possible.

A word of warning: Technically, if the work is copyright protected, it’s illegal to do so, even if you own it. To be clear, we do not condone or encourage the unlawful ripping and/or reproduction of copyrighted materials. That said, if you’ve got home videos (or, really, anything that’s not copyrighted), you’re free to do whatever you want with them, and that includes digitizing them.

What you need to rip a DVD

Some of this may seem obvious, but it’s important to list out everything you’ll need:

  • Your DVD or Blu-ray(s)
  • A DVD or Blu-ray disc drive on your computer — you won’t be ripping anything without one. If your computer lacks the proper disc drive, an external DVD or good Blu-ray drive can be purchased for as little as $25.
  • Enough storage on a hard drive to save the ripped files. A Blu-ray will make a huge file, so we recommend you have between 30 to 60 GB of free hard drive space if you’re looking to rip one
  • A program to rip the files. We’ll be using MakeMKV in this guide, which is available for both PC and Mac.
  • A program to transcode the file after its ripped. We recommend Handbrake, which is also both PC and Mac supported.
  • VLC media player to watch your video

Once you’ve got all of the necessary materials, it’s time to get started.

How to rip a DVD with MakeMKV

Whether you’re using a PC or Mac, or ripping a Blu-ray or a DVD, this process is identical for all of them. First, download and install MakeMKV, then open the application once completed. The app will say “MakeMKV BETA” at the top — ignore this, and insert your DVD or Blu-ray into the drive. Once the program recognizes your disc, click the big disc drive icon to begin. Theoretically, this process could also remove copyright protections from a disc, but again, that’s not something we condone or encourage.

After you’ve selected your disc, MakeMKV will return a list of chapters and segments that you can rip. To rip only the movie itself, and not extras or bonus material, select only the movie chapter or segment (usually the longest title or biggest file) and uncheck all the other boxes. Next, designate an Output Folder where you’d like the file to end up once it’s been ripped. When you’re all ready to go, hit the “Make MKV” button on the right. This process can take anywhere from two minutes to half an hour depending on your computer’s specs and the size of the file, but when it’s done, you should have a nice big MKV file waiting in the specified folder.

In some cases, you don’t even need to convert this file, as MKV files are compatible with the desktop and mobile versions of VLC, as well as Plex’s media server. If those are your primary methods for watching videos from your library, you can stop here. Still, it may be advisable to convert these files to save space; Blu-ray files, in particular, tend to be massive. That’s why you’ll want to employ a transcoding program — to minimize file size and/or play the file on multiple devices.

A note on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs

If you’re looking to rip a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, it’s possible, but we’re still in the early days of this, so it isn’t exactly easy, even for those familiar with ripping other discs. First, you might need a specific 4K Blu-ray drive in order to rip these discs, and there might be a few extra steps to go through, like creating a text file with the decryption keys in it. Ultimately, it may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth, but if you want to forge ahead with ripping your 4K Blu-ray discs, see the MakeMKV forums for more information.

How to transcode with Handbrake

After ripping, you’ll have a big file that needs to be transcoded for use on different devices. Before transcoding, it’s a good idea to make sure your video looks OK — use VLC (if you don’t have it, get it here for free) to play the file.

To get started, install and open HandBrake (which you can get here for free), click on Source in the top left corner, and find the file you just ripped.

Now you get to decide where you want to watch your video. The app’s developers have already created presets for lots of products; there are a few different options for Apple and Android devices, as well as PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles and several streaming devices. You can also modify any of these presets and save them with new names or create custom presets from scratch. Selecting one of these presets will automatically adjust all the settings to fit whatever you choose.

You can also use HandBrake to resize files; for instance, if you’ve got a huge MKV file, you can choose a preset under the “Matroska” subset (MKV stands for Matroska Video) and run the program to shrink that file down.

If you’re transcoding a Blu-ray disc, the process works the same way, but you’ll want to select different settings to avoid unnecessary compression and to preserve the video quality. For DVDs, there’s no reason to select a resolution above 480p; this will just increase file size without boosting quality. For Blu-ray discs, you’ll want to choose between 720p and 1080p — to save space, we recommend selecting 720p for anything that won’t take advantage of full HD. For videos with more visual substance, it’s probably worth choosing 1080p.

Generally speaking, the “High Profile” preset — located in the Legacy subset — is a good place to start, with passthrough audio codecs selected (pick an HD audio option for lossless, if that’s your bag) and a Constant Quality value of RF 18 or so; this is mostly personal preference, so you should experiment to find out what works best.

Choose a file destination, play around with the options until you’ve got everything just right, then go ahead and click Start. This part will take a while, so sit back, relax, and let HandBrake do its thing. Once the process is complete, you’ll have a shiny new file ready for playback on your chosen device. This process is repeatable, too; if you have several different devices, you can simply change presets and run the program for the same DVD or Blu-Ray again (as long as you’ve selected a new destination to avoid overwriting the previous result).

That’s it! You’ve successfully ripped and transcoded a DVD or Blu-ray disc. Now get viewing either using a media server like Plex or your favorite media player software.

Home Theater

Kanopy privacy breach reveals which movies members have been streaming

Free video streaming site, Kanopy, has been inadvertently publishing millions of lines of web log data for days, according to a new security report. A bad actor could guess a person's identity and see what they've been watching.
Home Theater

How to connect your Roku device to your hotel room’s TV

Staying at a hotel, but can't bear to be parted from your favorite streaming shows and movies? Take them with you with our complete guide to using your Roku on the road when staying at a hotel.
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Home Theater

March Madness deal alert: Get a 43-inch LG 4K HDR TV for just $270

March is a great time to find a deal on a new TV, and this one is worth every penny: Walmart is selling LG's 43-inch 43UK6300PUE, a very capable 4K HDR Smart TV, for almost 50 percent off the regular price, at $270.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Hulu vs. Amazon Prime Video: Which streaming service is best for you?

It's hard to dispute Netflix's leadership in on-demand streaming video, it's not alone. Two great alternatives are Amazon Prime Video and Hulu; each with its strengths and weaknesses. Which one is better? We pick the winner.
Product Review

Audio-Technica's M50xBT headphones bring signature studio sound to the streets

Audio pros may balk at cutting the cord on studio headphones, but it’s hard to argue with these results. Audio-Technica’s wireless ATH-M50xBT offer massive battery life and killer sound you can take anywhere.
News

Apple’s Beats to reportedly release truly wireless PowerBeats earphones in April

Beats will reportedly release a truly wireless PowerBeats earphones next month, following the announcement of Apple's new AirPods. The second-generation AirPods received the new H1 chip, which is also expected to power the new PowerBeats.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: Deadwood, John Wick 3, Shazam, and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for John Wick: Chapter 3, Deadwood, Shazam!, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: Cold War, Shoplifters, and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Cold War follows a tragic romance, The Inventor examines a famous fraud case, and more.
Movies & TV

Apple teases Monday’s big event with an early look into Steve Jobs Theater

Apple is gearing up for a big event on Monday where it's expected to unveil a video-streaming service. But more than 12 hours before it starts, the company has apparently already cranked up the event's livestream ...
Home Theater

TCL drops the price of its 75-inch 6-Series 4K Roku TV to $1,500

March is a great time for TV deals, and we've got a whopper: TCL has taken $300 off the price of its superb 75-inch 6-Series 4K HDR Roku TV, making it $1,500. That's the lowest price ever on this affordable TV.