All You Need To Know About Ripping DVDs

Ripping Software To Try, Continued

Auto Gordian Knot offers only DivX and XviD output, and works only with VOB files that are encrypted (or with other video file formats), but it's designed for beginners. It's a front end for several freeware utilities and installs them and does all the work for you, rather than creating files that you then need to process with other tools. You can choose either the size of file or the video quality you want to end up with, set the audio encoding to AC3 or MP3, and strip out extra language soundtracks and subtitles to save space. It can even shut your PC down after the rip is finished, so you can set it up and go to bed.

Create DivX or XviD files of a fixed size or at the quality level you want with Auto Gordian Knot.

Where To Get More Help

The AfterDawn website used to be one of the best sources of information and tools for DVD ripping. However, recently the site has had to remove many guides and downloads for legal reasons, and they haven't yet been rewritten to cover newer options. The best sites are now Doom9, and Digital Digest.

Doom9 doesn't have as many guides as some sites, but it organizes them well, and there's a comprehensive glossary covering everything from aspect ratios to video codecs. The guides are organized by the format you want to end up with. There's also a section on converting between non-DVD formats. is also known as VCDHelp and DVDHelp and a few other variations. It has a large and well-organized set of links to guides on a variety of other ripping sites, as well as those on creating Video CDs, SVCDs and DVDs from various video sources.

DigitalDigest covers HD DVD and Blu Ray as well as DivX, XviD and digital TV. The guides concentrate on freeware and trial software, so you can get started straight away.

What To Avoid

Finally, if you search for DVD copying software, you'll get a lot of results for pirated software and programs that are actually spyware in disguise. You'll also find DVD X Copy - the grandaddy of DVD rippers - which was forced off the market by U.S. court order in 2004, but lives on in a variety of bogus versions. Other titles to avoid include Easy DVDx, Copy DVDz, DVD Wizard Pro, DVD Copy Pro, Copy DVD Pro, DVD-Cutter, DVD Squeeze, DVD Copy Decrypter, DVD Echo, DVD Copy Gold and DVD Magik Pro.

You'll also find programs for sale that contain the same guides and manuals you could download for free. But there are legitimate commercial guides from sites like Expert-Guides and real tools from sites like DUP-DVD.

It's hard to keep track of what's a legitimate program and what's a similarly-named scam. But if the software promises to copy all DVDs, fit a DVD onto a single CD or cost far less than legitimate commercial software for working with DVDs, be wary.

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Mary Branscombe is an experienced freelance journalist, editor and author, who has been writing for more than three decades. Her work has appeared in The Financial Times, The Guardian, Tom's Guide, and many more. She has also written several novels — including the Cassidy At Large technomysteries — and two IT guides alongside her writing partner, Simon Bisson.