Making a backup (ripping) your DVDs for free with Handbrake or virtualDUB 1

There’s many paid for software solutions for copying DVDs, but here I’m only looking at the free options. In this article I’ll be comparing and Handbrake and VirtualDUB (links for both of these are in the post).

If you’re here to see what software I think is best, the answer is Handbrake, but for those of you who want to see the comparison and tutorial, keep reading.


Handbrake (or ‘Pineapple’, as I keep calling it)

Download HERE. This software has a lot of features and options to it, but it’s also very simple to rip a DVD and requires only a handful of clicks to start the conversion.

For a quick tutorial, download and install the software. Open Handbrake, click source (then the disk drive) then Handbrake will scan the DVD; this could take some time. Under destination, click ‘Browse’ and choose where you want the extracted video file to be saved. Then click start – The video conversion will start and a command prompt will appear with the conversion progress.

+ The depth of configuration allowed.

+ Popular file presents.

– Busy interface.


VirtualDUB is a bit different to Handbrake, it doesn’t need installing, just extract the archive and run ‘VirtualDub.exe’. However, you do need to separately download the MPEG2 plugin (required to decrypt DVDS), download files below:

VirtualDUB and MPEG2 Plugin.

When you extract VirtualDUB, there will be a ‘plugins’ folder, copy the content’s of the MPEG2 archive into this folder. When you’re ready to rip your DVD, start VirtualDub.exe and accept the licence agreement (obviously only if you agree with it). Then click File>Open Video File – Now you need to navigate to your DVD and click VTS_01_1.VOB (this is usually the first video file on a DVD, then tick the option ‘Ask for extended options’ before clicking ‘Open’. On this new dialogue box, tick ‘Open multiple VOB files as one virtual file’. VirtualDUB will now analyse the DVD and this may take some time.

Next, click the ‘Video’ menu option and then ‘Compression…’. You’ll be presented with a list of options for compressing your video, in this example I’ll use the DivX codec. Unfortunately this also isn’t included with VirtualDUB by default. So if you don’t see it in this list you’ll need to download and install it. You can get the file HERE, you’ll need to install it (when doing so, you’ll only need the ‘DivX Plus Codec Pack’), restart computer if needed, reopen VirtualDUB and it should now appear in the compression dialogue box. ‘DivX x.x.x Codec’ (not Decoder).

Now the process is much the same as in Handbrake, click:File>Save as AVI… then choose where you want to save the video file

+ It’s good quality and reliable software.

– No easy ‘Just rip entire DVD with one click’ option.

– Non-Intuitive interface at first.

Overall, I’d have to recommend Handbrake simply due to the ease and speed you can get to copying your DVD, VirtualDUB needs a lot more configuration to get started. VirtualDUB is very advanced software and if you want more features or if Handbrake just isn’t enough for you, give it a try!

Lastly, a thank you and two notes – In this article, you need an MPEG2 decoder for virtualDUB and I’ve got to thank PCPro as I got the link for this from one of their articles.


The first point I’d like to make is that video conversion takes time, I’ve spoken to many people who ask why their brand new laptop takes hours to convert a DVD – It will! Encoding/decoding or video editing in general is one of the most CPU intensive tasks you can ask a computer to perform, it won’t be an instant thing for many years to come. Also, the higher the quality of the video and desired output format, the longer the process will take. Personally, I’d just set a video to convert and leave it overnight.

The second point is that for commercial DVDs (ones with copy protection), in the UK this process is actually illegal. That’s just… something I have to tell you.

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One thought on “Making a backup (ripping) your DVDs for free with Handbrake or virtualDUB

  • Chris

    Sometimes there can be problems with ripping and converting video directly from a DVD. If the output video isn’t any good, try using a program such as DVD Shrink to rip the VOB files to your computer, then use Handbrake to convert them.