DVD copying can be confusing to some individuals while others don't seem to be bothered by it. If you are one of those people that need a little extra help. Here are a couple of steps that you can follow on your way to making perfect DVD copies. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™

***Note: According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 it is illegal to copy DVDs with embedded encryptions or protections. You should only use DVD copy software to copy or author DVDs that you personally own the copyright to like home videos or amateur movies.***

DVD Copying Basics

Getting set up to copy a DVD is not as simple as buying a software product and a pack of disks. You must make sure that you have an appropriate burner for the job, the correct media (discs) and a software product suited to your needs and preferences. For those of you who have never copied a DVD before, this page illustrates the DVD copy process and will help select the right tools to get the job done.

Overview of the DVD copying software

First, you'll insert your original DVD into a DVD reader on your computer. The DVD copy software then rips (or transfers the DVD files) the entire DVD to your hard drive. Next, the copy software converts the hard drive copy of your ripped DVD file to a format that will allow the data to be burned (or copied) onto a blank DVD or set of CDs. (CDs containing video are called VCDs–Video Compact Disks, or SVCDs–Super Video Compact Disks. They are still popular and often used in Asia and the Middle East.) You direct the software to burn the video on the device of your choice-either a DVD burner or a CD burner. However, your particular hardware, recording disks and copy software must be compatible with one another to accomplish this task. Since several choices are available, you should carefully review your options.

Select DVD copying software

Research the features of the different software products to find one that matches your preferences and needs, including the requirements of your computer. In addition to the side-by-side comparisons of DVD copy software applications, we've evaluated contains a separate review page with in-depth comments about product features and performance. Pay attention to comments about the user-friendliness also; you'll want software with a good help document as well as telephone or online support if you are new to DVD copying.

Choose your burner and disk

Before you purchase software, determine if you will be making copies on a DVD burner or a CD burner. You'll need a DVD drive to read your original DVD, but you don't necessarily need a DVD burner as the destination device for your new copy; a CD burner works too. CDs hold less data, so in order to copy large files to CD you must either sacrifice resolution/quality or use up several CDs. Typically, the data from 7 CDs can fit onto a single DVD. The advantage of using your CD burner to produce DVD copies is cost–many computers already have a CD burner installed, and recordable CDs are cheaper than recordable DVDs. Also, many home DVD players now support playing video CDs. But most people prefer the simplicity of single disk, high resolution copies that the DVD medium allows and consider these results worth the investment in a DVD burner–especially since the price of DVD burners has dropped significantly. There are several different formats of recordable disks available. You'll typically see both DVD-R and DVD+R writable disks. For more information on disk types, read Which is Better, DVD- R or DVD+R? Why so many formats? Competing manufacturers develop the disks in different formats and the hardware to support them. Eventually, one DVD format will probably dominate the market, as has occurred with CDs. Be aware that if you buy a DVD+R burner you must use DVD+R disks; the requirement is the same with DVD-R burners and disks. Consumers make the common mistake of believing all DVD disks are supported by all burners. If you want to pay a little more, you can purchase a DVD writer that allows you to copy in both DVD+R or DVD-R formats.

Meeting minimum system requirements

In addition to considering your burner needs, determine if the processing power of your PC is sufficient (speed, RAM, storage space). Even if your system meets minimum requirements, DVD copying is a resource-intensive chore for your computer, so a more powerful machine will greatly enhance your copy performance. Each product we review lists the minimum requirements for your computer on the Product Details pages. Copying DVDs isn't hard, you just have to make sure that you have the pieces necessary to make it work. 

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