Video Backups


Haven’t done a computer post in a long time, but thought that you all could benefit from some research and testing that I recently had to perform.

My old computer burned out and started smoking (literally) not too long ago. After the smoking incident, it wouldn’t even boot up. So I removed everything salvageable and bought the latest 64 bit system. Unfortunately, I found that several programs I used on my older 32 bit system just won’t work with a 64 bit system. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read more about 32 vs 64 bit systems here.

One program that I use regularly is a video archiver. When we purchase a DVD movie, we keep the original DVDs at home and bring copies on a USB drive for the kids to watch in the truck. That way, the videos don’t get scratched up or broken.
I use one product for copying DVDs onto the computer and another to reduce their size so that the files will fit on a USB drive or a DVD disk. However, the program I used to shrink the DVDs no longer works with 64 bit systems. So I did some research and found several free programs that permit “fair use” of the DVDs we purchase pursuant to copyright laws.

RipIt4Me” is a program that uses two other programs – “DVD Decrypter” to bypass the copy protection on DVDs and “DVD Shrink” to shrink the files so that they will fit on a 4.7 GB DVD. However, the newer DVDs have advanced copy protection and DVD Decrypter isn’t always able to decrypt them.

FreeMake Video Converter is another free video program that picks up where the older programs left off. It will copy videos from DVDs and convert them into multiple formats, including Apple and Android devices. The only complaint I have about the converted files is that their sizes seem to be quite large compared to other programs.

WinX DVD Ripper also a free program that does a good job at ripping DVDs onto your computer, although the company will try to upsell you on their “Platinum” version of the product that has extra features such as decrypting Disney videos and converting files into additional formats.

Finally, Divx Converter is a free program that provides basic ability to shrink files down to a more manageable size in a “.divx” format. Not all video players play the divx format, so check to make sure that yours does before you convert your files. If you want advanced features, you have to pay $20 to activate them. Stay away from Divx Author which does not work on 64 bit systems and has not been updated in quite a while.

When shrinking video files, the smaller that you make the files, the more the quality of the video degrades. You can shrink some videos from many gigabytes to a few hundred megabytes, but there will be a lot of pixelation when you play back the videos. I have found that usually 700-800 MB for a 1.5 hour movie provides decent quality with some minor pixelation. On movies where I want to keep the video quality, I keep the video sizes at about 1.5 GB.

If you have difficulty playing a video file, VLC player is a free cross-platform computer program that will play pretty much any media file that you throw at it. It also comes in a portable edition that you can put on a USB drive to use on other computers. There are other similar programs out there, but this one is my favorite.


  1. I use AnyDVD + CloneDVD to rip netflix discs. I rip them to my hard drive (using a 2:1 compression) and then return the discs the same day I get them. Ends up getting me 12 discs a month with the one-at-a-time plan. They’re not free progs but they get updated frequently for new copy protection schemes.

  2. Handbrake is another good choice for this. Great free program.
    Be aware that the MPAA will disagree about this being “fair use” and that this topic has not been ruled on by the courts yet. The DMCA makes it illegal to break the copy protection on commercial DVD’s. The fair use law would seem to allow making a back up copy for non commercial use. This may only cover archive type backups, not ones to watch. Copying rented DVD’s would clearly be illegal and not ethical also. Content providers do need to be paid for their work.

  3. I’ve looked into this in the past, but then realized I’d rarely if ever want to watch a movie more than once. What’s the point of compiling all these movie’s on your hard drive? Kids movies, fine. But 12 DVDs worth of movies a month? Are you really watching them multiple times?

Leave A Reply