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  • Handbrake: Stop Losing DVDs
Technology Articles > Software > Home & Hobby > Handbrake: Stop Losing DVDs

If you have a lot of videos on DVD, you might want to take them around with you on your tablet computer or laptop. Or, maybe you just like to burn it to a DVD for backup. While it is relatively easy to save CDs with audio and music onto your computer, it is not nearly as straightforward to do so with video DVDs. Luckily, there is a free open source program that will do this for you. This program is called handbrake, and it is a powerful piece of software to save DVDs to your computer.

When you use handbrake, you simply insert your DVD and hit save. The software will save the DVD to your hard drive. Be aware, however, that this process is very CPU intensive. It is not intended to be performed on a week computer. (If you have a dual core or multi core processor, this is better than a single core processor, simply for this reason). Also of note is the fact that video files take up a lot of storage space. If you plan on saving DVDs to your computer, make sure you have ample hard drive space to do so. Otherwise, you will run out of hard drive space very quickly, and your computer or what will run slower as a result.

File Formats Supported

Handbrake supports many different video formats, allowing for flexibility for many different users with many different needs. To start with, any DVD source will work. This includes Blu-ray DVDs, DVD images on your hard drive, or physical DVDs.

Once you have determined the input format of your DVDs, you will need to select an output file format. Files can be saved as as with NPG4, H.264, or Theora. While these may seem like inexplicable jumbles of letters, they are incredibly flexible file formats and encoding types. If you have an iPad, you want to encode with H.264 MPEG, as this is the most compatible video format with iTunes video and the iPad hardware. If, on the other hand, you are going to watch your videos on your computer, you can choose any other encoding type.

Other Features

Handbrake also supports a number of advanced features that are not relevant to many users, but power users will find especially effective. For example, you can create chapters, subtitles, or even minor video editing such as deinterlacing, cropping, and scaling. Again, these features will not make or break the application for many (or even most) users. However, for power uses who like and use features, these features are important.

Keep in mind that HandBrake will not save your encoded or copy-protected DVDs. If you attempt to save a copy-protected DVD, then you will receive an error message, and will need to choose another DVD. This is to keep piracy at bay, although as copy protection becomes more and more prevalent, the chorus of complaints about HandBrake's lack of support for encrypted files will likely become louder.

So, if you feel confident that your computer is powerful enough to save DVDs to your computer using handbrake, and you have ample storage space to do so, give it a try. The application is free, open source, and malware/virus free. You have nothing to lose by try it.