Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Personal DVD Backups

For those of us in countries where DVD backups are legal in specific cases, is anyone out there having any success making fairly decent backups?

I have done some checking around at the computer stores and one of the store guys demo'ed something called DVD X Copy. He said DVD X Copy is pretty popular, showed me the quality of the duplication, and it does look pretty good (but the pixelation from overcompression was very noticible for some of the scenes).

It has the following highly desirable abilities:

    * retaining the menus, chapters, bonus reels and voice tracks

    * while still squeezing 8+ gigs (dual into single) into 4+ gigs.

So I guess my questions are:

* Is DVD X Copy capable of making copies without reducing quality? On the net people say there are different editions of this software, which is the best? Anyone out there enjoy swapping DVDs in the middle of the movie?

* Are there better software out there? Are there any other software out there worth looking at?

* Should we even bother buying the burners out today or just wait until the 8+ Gig burners come out+come down in price?

Li-fan Chen
Monday, January 5, 2004

I've ripped and recreated one commercial DVD film to see whether its really feasible.  The problem is with multi-layering so you end up pruning menus, making backgrounds static, not keeping the director's commentary etc, etc.  The whole process took a long time.

The result was of reasonable quality but there's no way I'd call it a back up.  As I'm not into copying things for redistribution and any film I really want I'll buy its not something I'll be doing even under 'reasonable use'.

Simon Lucy
Monday, January 5, 2004

I have used DVD X Copy, if you tell it to leave out all the menus it made me a nearly perfect copy with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. I think if you set it to include all the menus aswell (i.e put 8Gig on a 4.7Gig drive) then you have to settle for the pixelation and crappy sound as well.

Chris Ormerod
Monday, January 5, 2004

I suppose there are many people who frown on backups of dvds, but I have a nice collection of dvds getting badly scratched up. I also don't have hundreds of dollars (or the time) to shop Yonge street again for the same dvd collections. Anyway, I have done some read-ups and it appears the Gold and Platinum editions both backup 1:1 quality, so I'll make sure to get that those. But if anyone has any other tools or tips to recommend I am all ears.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, January 5, 2004

This has served me well so far, and it's free:

Duncan Smart
Monday, January 5, 2004

"but I have a nice collection of dvds getting badly scratched up"

It's your own prerogative, but wouldn't it be easier to just be more careful with the DVDs? i.e. I've seen the scratched comment several times, but of dozens of DVDs and hundreds of CDs, I literally have never lost a single one due to scratches, nor had any artifacts while playing them. Indeed even Blockbuster rentals seldom have any quality-affecting scratches (I can't even remember the last time there was a problem...). Even if I did strangely go bezerk every now and then and destroy a DVD, it'd be more expensive in resources to back every DVD up for that eventuality (not counting the time).

"and it appears the Gold and Platinum editions both backup 1:1 quality"

I'm probably being a master of the obvious here, but if they take a commercial DVD, virtually always a dual-layer 9.4GB, and put it on a consumer DVD(-/+)R, whichi is 4.7GB, it is impossible that quality is 1:1. Even if universality was foresaken and a better codec than MPEG2 was used, the process of decompressing and recompressing would adversely affect that quality.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, January 5, 2004

"wouldn't it be easier to just be more careful with the DVDs?"

DVDs are easily scratched.

1. Accidents happen.
2. You don't have children, do you?
3. Removing and placing a DVD back in its case can cause the hole to crack.  All it takes is one mishandling.  Parenthetically, have you ever seen a novice try to open a CD "jewel box" for the first time?

Monday, January 5, 2004

I have DVD X Copy Gold, which includes both the original DVD X Copy and DVD X Copy Express.

DVD X Copy does not re-compress anything. It makes bit for bit copies of the data on the DVD, although you'll need two DVDs for most movies, as they are on dual layer discs. DVD X Copy preserves the system menu, all the audio tracks, and the special features. It really is a backup of the disc.

DVD X Copy Express is a 1-2-3 usage program. 1 - Insert Disc, 2 - Click Start, 3 - Insert blank. What you get out of DVD X Copy Express is a re-compressed version of JUST the movie, and a single audio track (which you can choose, if you like).

Personally, I do not see any re-compression artifacts with DVD X Copy Express. It may be that if some movie is highly compressed already, that the incremental compression will cause problems. That's certainly a possibility you have to live with.

If you use the original DVD X Copy, you won't have that issue, although you'll generally be spending twice as much on media, and having to get up off the couch in the middle of the movie to swap discs.

In my experience, DVD X Copy (original or Express) is the best DVD movie archive software I've found. All the others that I've looked at and/or tried will not work with copy protected movies, which is pretty much all of them.

Also, you should know that DVD X Copy (both original and Express) insert a "this is a backup" warning screen at the front of the DVD, and will not copy their own copies. They will only copy from originals.

Brad Wilson (
Monday, January 5, 2004

I should preface this by saying that my version of DVD X Copy Gold is about 6 months old, so newer versions may work differently.

Brad Wilson (
Monday, January 5, 2004

"Indeed even Blockbuster rentals seldom have any quality-affecting scratches (I can't even remember the last time there was a problem...). "

That's because whenever a disc has a scratch that makes it unable to play acceptably, the customer will complain and they will throw away that disc (presumably after verifying that the customer was telling the truth).

So unless you are unlucky enough to be the first one to get a particular DVD when it became too badly scratched to play properly, you won't notice any problem.

On more than one occasion I've received an unplayable disc from Netflix, and once (just last week) I rented an unplayable one from the local video shop.

T. Norman
Monday, January 5, 2004

I'm not going to debate this too feircely as personally I don't care if people make dupes of movies (more power to 'em), but rather will just state that the oft used justification understandably raises some eyebrows and sounds a tad disingenuous at times....and those rolling papers are for legitimate purposes too...

"DVDs are easily scratched."

Indeed, DVDs are fragile. It might surprize some, but (to go into the realm of horribly inappropriate analogies) so are glass windows! If I, or my daughter, throw a baseball in the house or have a rock skipping competition, it could smash the costly glass windows that I strangely have throughout my house. How many times I smashed a window in the house in the past decade? Errr...never. Even if occasionally we did, I wouldn't cover them all with matresses as a master save-the-window program.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, January 5, 2004

By the way, I have a game store near me with a professional disc repair machine. It will literally fill in all the scratches on a CD or DVD, and render it re-playable, as long as the scratch did not penetrate the data layer (which they rarely do, as that would require some significant force). They have the machine primarily to repair CD- and DVD-based games, as they sell used games.

If all you need is that, you should consider using a professional disc repair service. The local guy is pretty cheap, just a few bucks a disc. Considering my last batch of quality DVD-Rs was $2/each, I'd say that makes a lot more sense.

Brad Wilson (
Monday, January 5, 2004

I recently tried a product called DVD Copy Pal:

It's a suite of tools for working with video media of all sorts, including DVD.  Does everything you'd need to do.  Really crappy UI, though.

another option
Monday, January 5, 2004

There's a consumer product called Disc Dr (or Game Dr or ... you get the idea) that does essentially the same thing. It grinds down the surface of the disc until the scratch is removed. It creates a radial pattern on the disc which doesn't affect reading much, only the worst players won't be able to handle a disc treated this way.

I've received a few bad discs from rental places, and purchased one bad disc, though I suspect a superior dvd player may have been able to read through some of these errors.

It's actually much easier to scratch the TOP of a disc and render it useless than the bottom. The top is where all the data is. The bottom is just plastic.

The amount of effort you put in to backing up your data should be directly proportional to how difficult it is to re-create that data.

If I'm a movie producer, I'll make damn sure the film that comes out of the camera and goes to processing is handled with care. If I'm a consumer, unless the movie I purchase is a limited edition version, or otherwise out of print & impossible to find AND is a movie I cherish, I'm not going to make much effort to back it up because it's so easy to replace.
Monday, January 5, 2004

"If I'm a consumer, unless the movie I purchase is a limited edition version, or otherwise out of print & impossible to find AND is a movie I cherish, I'm not going to make much effort to back it up because it's so easy to replace."


I've used DVD XCopy Express and it works reasonably well, although the pixelation from re-compressing the movies can be annoying.

Overall, it's not worth the hassle.  My local video store will rent me 2 movies for 4 dollars.

Mayor McCheese
Monday, January 5, 2004

I just tried DVD Decrypter and it works well.

At current storage prices, full DVDs are still too expensive to copy, unless you use some kind of compressor; it's cheaper just to buy or rent the DVD commercially.

That'll change as prices fall, and I expect in a few years we'll have people with multi-terabyte DVD collections, just as people have multi-hundred gigabyte MP3 collections now.

Monday, January 5, 2004

There are two types of DVDs.  DVD5, which is single layer, can be copied using DVD Decryptor with no compression.  DVD9, which is essentially two layers pressed together, requires you either to split it to two DVDs (DVD X Copy) or shrink it down to a DVD5 (DVD Shrink among others). 

From my past experience, if you can live without the extras, DVD Shrink will work better for you because it allows you to choose exactly what you want to keep, and calculate the compression ratio before the compression starts.

If quality matters to you, then you probably should use CCE to do multi-pass compression of the DVD video before using DVD Shrink.

Hope this helps.

Patterns Guy
Monday, January 5, 2004

Just want to thank everyone for their inputs, based on all this information, it looks like DVD X Copy Gold might be what I need.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, January 6, 2004

There's actually four formats of DVD.

DVD5 and DVD9, as you illustrated. There's also DVD10 (double sided, single layered) and DVD17 (double sided, double layered).

When DVD duplication houses first came online, nobody could reliably make DVD17. Now that I come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever actually seen a DVD17. I have a few DVD10s, mostly movies that have both widescreen and full screen formats (one on each side), but they're not very common any more.

Super Audio CDs that are compatible with standard CD players use the same dual-layer technology as DVD9, except that the opaque layer is actually a CD, rather than a DVD (and the semi-opaque layer is the SACD layer). I honestly thought that dual-format discs would be the way to push SACD into everywhere, but they don't seem to be catching on. DVD-Audio seems to be winning.

(If you're curious, the names come from the approximate amount of data available: DVD5 = 4.7GB, DVD9 = 8.5GB, DVD10 = 9.4GB, DVD17 = 17GB)

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, January 6, 2004

DVD shrink works fine for being free, it compresses the data very well, it gives you many options to delete unwanted soundtracks, special features etc, so the compression is lowered, the highest compression I would do is about 70% at this level, picture and sound quality is still quite good. Although a disk may be 9gig or whatever it does not mean all the disk is used, as in a film may take only 5gb of data on the disk, so it does not have to be compressed as much to fit on the 4.7 gig disc. For dvds that have several episodes of a series you will find with most that they are less than 4.7gig so its a straight copy. I hope that helps somebody, when using dvd shrink use deep anaylsis for a better copy-it takes a lot longer but its worth it.

Dave Langley
Sunday, January 25, 2004

I probably sound like a newbie,
but it is impossible to buy dvd-r with 9.7GB on them
so you can make perfect 1:1 copies.
And if no, will these ever be produced?

Monday, January 26, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home