How to Convert DVDs and Blu-Rays into Digital Files

In a world in which streaming is the norm, having a Blu-ray player or, worse, a DVD player, makes little sense. After all, do you really want to spend time dealing with discs when you can simply watch programming on your set-top box with just a few taps on a screen?

That's a question many people are now asking. But some of those same people also invested heavily in DVD and Blu-ray discs over the years, and are now wondering what they should do with that physical media.

The easiest solution would be to ditch the discs and rip those movies and television shows onto computers. But converting copyrighted content into another format, even if it's totally legal, is not nearly as easy as you might think. And unfortunately, it might cost you a pretty penny to do it.

So, before you invest that cash, read on to learn how to convert DVDs and Blu-rays into digital files, either with paid services or with help from some software solutions.

DVD-Conversion Software to iPad

If you're looking for a DIY option, DVD-conversion software is your best bet. With these apps, you can insert your DVD into your computer, and the software will dig into the discs. The software then converts your DVD into a raw video file that you can see on your iPhone or iPad.

Now, to be clear, DVD-conversion apps allow you to circumvent copy encryptions on commercial discs, which would put you in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). If you're caught doing that, you could face serious fines and, in some cases, jail time, even if you remove those protections for personal use. We don't endorse the use of that software for that purpose.

But if you want a more sophisticated rundown on how these programs work, here goes:

First, you insert your DVD into your computer and wait for it to whir up. Once that's done, you open the DVD in the software converter you've picked and look for the ISO file, or ISO image. That's the file that has all the stuff you care about, like the movie itself, bonus material, menus and other content.

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Most DVD converters list out all of the content inside your disc, and you can decide whether to go with the bonus material or leave it out. Whatever you leave out will save you space on your iPad.

Now that you know what you want to convert, the software will give you the option of choosing the iPad as your desired file-output type. Once you hit Convert, it could take about an hour or so to get the right file.

Now, armed with the right file, simply sync that file with your iTunes and access it on your iPad. You should be able to watch your movie.

The Best DVD-to-iPad Converters

Based on our testing and research, here are the top five apps for DVD-to-iPad conversions:

Blu-Ray-Conversion Software to iPad

If you have a large number of Blu-ray discs lying around all waiting to head over to your iPad, there are similar solutions available.

Now, again, we need to clarify that using Blu-ray software converters to strip out copyright protections can run afoul of DMCA protections, and we do not endorse piracy or any other illegal activity that might occur while using these programs. Use them at your own risk.

To rip your Blu-ray content to your iPad, look out for that ISO file so you can find the guts of the disc you're looking to convert.

The same process is used here as in a DVD-to-iPad converter, including loading up the disc in your software, choosing the components you want to download to your computer and picking the iPad file format.

Once the content is ready — it'll take different amounts of time, depending on the disc, the amount of data you're transferring and your computer's power — sync that content with iTunes.

As long as everything has synced properly, you can boot up iTunes on your iPad and enjoy your Blu-ray movie.

The Best Blu-Ray-to-iPad Converters

Here are our picks for the top five apps for Blu-ray-to-iPad conversions:

DVD-to-MP4 Converter Software

We've talked so far about converting discs to Apple-friendly formats. But what about converting that content for use in everything else, like smartphones, computers and set-top boxes?

For that, you need a DVD-to-MP4 converter app. Why MP4? Because MP4 is the format that most devices out there can recognize and play back without trouble. If you have an MP4 file ready to be played on your machine, you shouldn't have any trouble watching it.

Now, we need to say again that the same risk applies here of removing copyright protections and putting you in violation of the DMCA if you strip away those protections, so be sure to keep that in mind before you decide to move forward. Tom's Guide does not endorse or recommend you remove encryption to illegally obtain access to commercial content.

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The process for getting access to the ISO file that will allow you to do what you want with the disc is the same as it is with the other conversion tools we've outlined. To achieve your goal of converting the DVD, you’ll need to, at your own risk, rip away the copyright protections if you want to get access to the ISO and copy the file to your computer.

Once that's done, you can access the ISO from the converter software and choose the content you want to transfer. Again, the more you choose, the larger the file.

When you're in the software, be sure you choose MP4 as your file format. As long as you do that, the software should spit out the correct file, and you'll be able to watch your movie or program on the device of your choosing.

The Best DVD-to-MP4 Converters

Here are the top five MP4 converters based on an evaluation of their ease of use, timeliness of access to the file and more.

Credit: Tom's Guide/Shutterstock/Tipard/Wondershare

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.