DVDs are frequently used to store movies, but they may become scratched and lose information over time. It is a good idea to back up data on another medium such as an external hard drive. That way, if a DVD becomes damaged, a new DVD can be created using the backup.

Ripping a DVD

DVD Shrink is free software that can be used to back up DVDs. It can circumvent most copy protection schemes to allow bought movies to be backed up for personal use. Download the DVD Shrink software here and install it on a Windows computer or laptop with a DVD player. Plug in an external DVD player to a USB port if the laptop or device doesn’t have an internal DVD player.

DVD Shrink

Open DVD Shrink, insert the DVD in the DVD player and then click the Open Disc button on the toolbar. This will open the “Open DVD Disc” dialog. Select the DVD drive if it isn’t already selected and then click the OK button.

DVD Shrink Open DVD Disc dialog

DVD Shrink will then read the DVD and analyse its content. If the DVD is scratched or contains copy protection that cannot be circumvented, the analyse will freeze. If that happens, press the button on the DVD player to eject the disc and then click OK to close DVD Shrink’s error message.

DVD Shrink Analysis dialog

If the analysis successfully completes, DVD Shrink will list all the elements of the DVD including the menu, main movie, extras, audio and captions. DVD Shrink will open in Full Disc mode by default and will automatically compress the DVD just enough to fit on a single-layered 4.7GB DVD.

The default settings are fine if the menu and extras needs to be copied and video quality isn’t important. If video quality is important, change the compression mode in the Video section from Automatic to No Compression for the same quality or choose Custom Ratio to specify the quality as a percentage.

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If the DVD comes in multiple language or has a commentary, it is possible to save space by deleting some of the audio streams and captions. For example, untick all the audio streams except for the first English one and untick all the subpicture checkboxes to remove captions altogether or untick all except the first English one to keep only English captions.

DVD Shrink Full Disc mode

If keeping the menu, extras and captions isn’t important, click the Re-author button to switch to Re-author mode and then choose which elements to back up. Double-click on the first item in the Main Movie section on the right side to add it to the DVD structure on the left side.

Click the Compression Settings tab at the top of the right side to untick unnecessary audio streams and save space. If quality is important, change Automatic to No Compression or Custom Ratio to choose a quality percentage.

DVD Shrink Re-author mode

When happy with the content and its size, click the Backup button on the toolbar. The Backup DVD dialog will then display. By default, files will be saved in a folder on the hard disk. Enter a folder or click the “Browse…” button to select a folder.

By default, the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS subfolders are created even if they are not needed. Untick “Create VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS subfolders” if these subfolders don’t need to be created.

If the video will be mounted and burned to another DVD in the future, change the backup target to ISO Image File to store all the files inside an ISO file.

DVD Shrink Backup DVD dialog

If quality is important, click the Quality Settings tab. This tab contains extra options to improve quality that are disabled by default. Tick the “Perform deep analysis before backup to improve quality” checkbox to perform two passes when encoding the video. This takes longer, but enables the encoder to improve image quality.

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Tick the “Compress video with high quality adaptive error compension” checkbox to choose a filter to reduce the appearance of artifacts in the video. The default filter is “Sharp”. There are also “Maximum smoothness”, “Smoothness” and “Maximum sharpness” filters.

DVD Shrink Quality Settings tab

There are some more options on the Options tab. By default, DVD Shrink runs in low priority mode to allow other applications to run while it is working. If speed is important and other applications won’t be running, untick “Run backup in low priority mode”.

If the user wants to go to sleep while backing up, there is a “Shutdown computer when backup is complete” option that will automatically shut down the computer once the backup is complete. It’s also possible to change the sound that plays when the backup is complete or remove it altogether to avoid being woken up when backup completes.

DVD Shrink options

Click the OK button to start ripping the DVD. The Encoding dialog will then be displayed with the DVD’s decryption key, rate of encoding, amount of data buffered and estimated time remaining.

The frame that is currently being encoded is displayed on the left. Untick “Enable Video Preview” to hide the current frame. Click the Pause button to pause encoding or the Cancel button to cancel encoding.

DVD Shrink Encoding dialog

Once encoding has completed, the Backup Complete dialog is displayed with the total size and processing time. Click the link to open the folder where the files were saved. Click OK to close the dialog and then remove the DVD. If needed, insert the next DVD, click the Full Disc button to switch back to Full Disc mode and then click the Open Disc button to start the process again.

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DVD Shrink Backup Complete dialog

Copying a DVD

After ripping a DVD to an ISO file using the instructions above, use a tool to burn the ISO file as a DVD.

Windows 8 and later supports burning ISO files inside Windows Explorer. To do this, open the folder containing the ISO file in Windows Explorer, click on the ISO file and then click the Manage tab under Disc Image Tools.

(Windows 7 and earlier doesn’t support burning ISO files natively, but it does allow individual files to be burnt to a disc. To do this, select the AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders and then click the “Burn to disc” button in the toolbar. Choose the “Mastered format” option to make the disc compatible with DVD players as well as computers.)

Windows Explorer Disc Image Tools

Click the Burn button in the Manage section to open Windows Disc Image Burner. Insert a blank disc into the computer or laptop’s DVD burner. Plug in an external DVD burner to a USB port if the laptop or device doesn’t have an internal DVD burner. Choose the DVD burner using the “Disc burner” dropdown.

Tick the “Verify disc after burning” checkbox to make Windows Disc Image Burner verify the data after it finishes burning. This takes extra time, but will reveal if the disc is damaged. Leave it unticked if speed is important.

Click the Burn button at the bottom of the dialog to burn the DVD. Windows Disc Image Burner will then display the progress as it burns the disc. Wait for the disc to finish burning and then close the dialog. Test playing the DVD to make sure it works.