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How to Rip a DVD to an MP4 for Streaming

One of my favorite pieces of cord cutting tech, is Western Digitals My Cloud Media Server. While most use this device for backing up files, photos, and videos on all their devices to one central location, My Cloud’s built in media server was critical in consolidating our family’s DVD collection.

This involved converting our DVDs to MP4 file format. MP4 format is the most commonly used file format for video, so you will be able to view it on most devices.

Once the DVD is converted to MP4, we copy the files to our My Cloud and watch them on our Roku whenever we want. We can now pack up all our DVDs and store them out of the way, up in the attic.

Today I’m going to show you how to get all those DVDs into MP4 format onto a My Cloud, or any other network attached storage device you may be using.

Converting a DVD to MP4

Also known as “ripping”, converting a DVD to an MP4 file may seem complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. There are many free tools available to do this, but my personal favorite is Handbrake. Of course you will need a computer with a DVD player depending on the type of media you are looking to stream. Simply follow the steps below to get Handbrake running on your PC or Mac and then we can start converting those DVDs to MP4 files.

Installing Handbrake

  1. Download  the software from Handbrakes homepage
  2. Follow the step by step prompts to get the software installed.
  3. By default Handbrake can only rip unprotected DVDs. Most DVDs purchased from the store have copy protection built in. To burn DVDs you have purchased we need libdvdcss. It’s a library that allows Handbrake to unscramble and access the DVD.
    1. On Windows systems download the file (libdvdcss for 32-bit systems, or libdvdcss for 64-bit systems) and copy it to  the Handbrake program folder (C:\Program Files\Handbrake.)
    2. On a Mac you can download this file and double click to install it. If you are running OS X El Capitan there are a few for steps due to its Security Integrity Protection (SIP) feature. Follow these steps laid out by Redactor hvyboots.
  4. Hand break should now be installed and ready to burn your DVD.

Using Handbrake to Rip a DVD

Handbrake is a great program. While it is feature rich for those that like to tweak and tune their video, it also has great presets that allow a novice to just start the program and start using it. Follow the steps below to turn your DVD into an MP4.

  1. Insert the DVD you want to rip and start the Handbrake application.
  2. Click on the “Source” button in the upper left hand corner. The application will begin scanning the DVD, which should take a few minutes.
  3. Once the DVD is done being scanned open the “Title” drop down. It should show quite a few tracks each with a running time next to the title. For movies select the longest track. If it’s a TV show, you would want to pick the track that’s the appropriate length for the show.
  4. Navigate to where you want to save the file by clicking the browse button and giving the file a name.  I recommend using a naming standard you come up with to keep track of your movies and TV shows.
  5. Next chose the correct preset from the list of presets on the right. Even though I use a Roku, I chose the “Apple TV” preset and recommend saving the file as an MP4, as it’s the most widely used. If Handbrake assigns an M4v extension, simply change it to MP4 per their documentation.
  6. Hit the start button an wait.

A full length movie can take an hour or two to finish depending on your drive speed, so converting your entire DVD collection could take some time. However, the process of putting a DVD in and starting the ripping process takes less than a minute. So you can leisurely rip all your DVDs over time.

You can even use the computer while the DVD is covering to MP4. I never babysit the process. I tend to burn a few a day and the process is so simple it takes no time away from my day.

I Now Watch DVDs on My Roku

Once you have a few DVDs ripped and on your computer, you can simply copy them up to your media server and delete them off of you computer to save space. All our movies are hosted on our My Cloud and we watch them on our Roku using the Roku Media Player Channel. I show how this is done is my setup and review of the WD My Cloud.

So if you want to free up some room in your house, and want the convenience of streaming all your TV and Movies get Handbrake installed today. It’s a great tool to convert every DVD in your collection to a streaming ready MP4 format.

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