Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to protect, backup and enhance DVD discs

While protection of DVD discs seems to be commonsense in many people's eyes, they are likely to have overlooked the fact that overtime, DVDs can become scratched, damaged and even completely unusable. Buying new one is of course not a good idea, since it costs much and you may be no longer able to find the one that you have bought before. Therefore, it is very important for DVD owners to know correct ways of protecting their DVD collections.

During daily usage, we need to note the following things:

1. Common sense: Do not use fingers to touch the shiny disc surface. Handle discs by the outer edge or the center hole. Keep dirt, foreign material, fingerprints, smudges, and liquids from the disc and wipe them with a clean cotton fabric in a straight line from the center of the disc toward the outer edge.

2. Store discs upright (book style) in original jewel cases that are specified for CDs and DVDs and not store discs horizontally for a long time (years).

3. Leave discs in their spindle or jewel case to minimize the effects of environmental changes. Store in a cool, dry, dark environment in which the air is clean -- relative humidity should be in the range 20% - 50% (RH) and temperature should be in the range 4°C - 20°C. Do not expose recordable discs to prolonged sunlight or other sources of UV light.

4. Use a non solvent-based felt-tip permanent marker to mark the label side of the disc. Do not write or mark in the data area of the disc (area where the laser reads).

Protecting your DVDs is essential of course, while maximizing their value is of greater importance. Therefore, to make a step further, you can do more to backup and enhance them.

With Free Ripping Software

Commercial movie DVDs are copyright protected which prevent users from copying them. However, we sometimes do need some DVDs for personal use or recreation. In this case, we can turn to a DVD ripping program for help. Here I'd like to recommend HandBrake, since it is a free program available for Mac, Linux and Windows, and can extract any DVD-like source: VIDEO_TS folder, DVD image or real DVD (encrypted or unencrypted) to your computer within a few steps. Download and install HandBrake and insert the DVD into your DVD drive. If your DVD Player application opens, exit the DVD Player application. Open the HandBrake application and select Detected volume and click on Open. Wait as HandBrake detects the titles on your DVD. Leave the default settings or choose the settings you wish. For best quality, select Video: 2-pass encoding. The whole ripping process is within a few simple steps. But since it is totally free, it does have some limitations:

1. It only support MP4, MKV, or OGM format. If you want to rip DVD to other formats, HandBrake offers no solution.

2. I sometimes center on more video editing like length trimming. However, HandBrake frustrates me a lot.

3. Not all DVD's are supported by HandBrake. Those with protection methods other than CSS are not supported and must be handled externally with third-party software.

With DVD Copy Software

Under the circumstances, you may turn to other DVD ripping software, or select to use a DVD copy program to backup DVD discs. Take Wondershare DVD Copy as an example, it can crack DVD copyright protection like CSS, RC and RCE automatically, and copy DVD to computer by saving as DVD folder or ISO image files, and copy DVD to another DVD disc (DVD Copy from DVD-9 to DVD-5, DVD supported). What attracts me most is that it supports three copy modes: full movie, main movie and custom mode. So you can just copy only the main movie or preview and select desired titles to copy. The operation is quite simple:

1. Select Copy Source from your DVD drive and DVD folder saved on your computer.

2. Select Output Target from DVD disc, DVD folder and ISO image. If you want to copy DVD to DVD disc, then you need to select disc from DVD-9 and DVD-5. DVD Copy from DVD-9 to DVD-5 is also available.

3. Select Copy Mode from full movie, main movie and custom mode. If you click custom mode, a window will popup for you to select titles on DVD to preview and copy.

4. Click "Start" to start copying your DVD.

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