The best DVD ripper software offers a great way to back-up copies of your favorite discs so you never need to worry about losing them. Or perhaps you want multiple copies for quick access in different places, it's all possible with these programs that make the job simple.
There can be legal issues with making copies though, and these vary based on where you live. So be sure to check the laws in your area so you're copying your CD or DVD without anything to worry about as you do. In most cases you own the disc, not the copyright, so you may be able to make a back-up and that's it.
Make sure the best home computer you're using has a DVD player or Blu-ray player capable of copying discs. If not, you can pick one up online that plugs into your computer, easily. Going Blu-ray means you can work with those discs as well as older DVDs too.
You can get free DVD ripper software but if you have a slower machine you may want to invest in paid options, which can do a lot of the grunt work, taking the load off your machine and giving you a quicker end result than a free option.
1. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum: Best DVD ripper overall
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A GPU-accelerated ripper with the handy ability to set the number of CPU cores it uses, WinX DVD Ripper can rip your DVD to a file in around five minutes at full speed. Using it is as simple as loading the disk, selecting the output folder, and pressing the big, blue 'Run' button.
There really isn’t much more to it, and WinX DVD Ripper is one of the best DVD ripping programs for this reason. With no fiddling about selecting codecs, framerates, or audio options, this is a good way to rip a large collection of home movies quickly, especially if you have a PC equipped with up to eight cores and a modern discrete GPU.
While it offers a free trial, this is limited to only ripping the first five minutes of non-copy-protected disks. For those who will make use of its simple, speedy workflow, upgrading to the full version should be a no-brainer.
- Read our WinX DVD Ripper Platinum review
2. Handbrake: Best free ripper
Handbrake is a powerful video transcoding application that can also rip unprotected DVDs. As one of the best DVD ripping programs, it stands in contrast to WinX DVD Ripper in that it has more options than just about any other video application.
If you know what you’re doing, you can use Handbrake to de-interlace, sharpen, rotate, add subtitles, remove subtitles, down-mix audio tracks, add chapter markers, fiddle with framerates, and just about anything else you can think of. Its comprehensive video quality controls allow you to manage compression so that you hit a target file size, while a vast number of presets mean you can tailor your video file for any number of devices, as well as saving your own.
Handbrake can create files in the h264 and h265 codecs, with several options on top of each of these. Once you’ve got the hang of how it works, Handbrake is one of the best DVD ripping programs, and the fact it’s completely free adds to this. The only downside is that it’s not as fast as something like WinX DVD Ripper, nor as easy to use.
- Read our Handbrake review
3. Wondershare Uniconverter: Best for added CD ripping
Sitting somewhere between Handbrake and WinX DVD Ripper in terms of features and complexity, Wondershare Uniconverter offers some options the other two don’t.
For example, in addition to the usual DVD ripping and video conversion, it’s also capable of transferring still images between formats, and of making animated GIFs from video clips. It can also cast your screen to a TV, acting as a media server, and record your screen activity as a video. It can rip your CDs, transfer your files to an Android smartphone, and even convert videos into a format that can be played back on VR devices.
GPU support means conversion times are fast, but other than choosing between h264, HEVC, and some lower quality legacy formats, there’s not much control over the specifics of the ripping process. This aside, it’s one of the smoothest and fastest DVD ripping programs we’ve tried, and packs a great deal of functionality into one app. A free trial is available, but is limited to only the first third of your source DVD.
- Read our Wondershare Uniconverter review
4. MakeMKV: Best for added Blu-ray ripping
Currently available for $0 as part of a public beta test, MakeMKV offers a highly streamlined ripping process that does a lot of the work for you. While there’s not much in the way of settings to fiddle with, this makes it a good choice for beginners and at least means you can whip through a number of disk rips quickly, although it doesn’t benefit from the GPU acceleration found in other apps.
The name comes from the Matroska Multimedia Container, an open container format that can hold common video formats, such as h264. Its files use the extension .mkv, and can be played by anything that can read an MP4 file.
If you want to compress ripped files to make room on your HDD, you should combine it with Handbrake, to get this functionality.
- Read our MakeMKV review
5. Freemake Video Converter: Best for older devices
Another do-it-all app with a few odd omissions. Looking at Freemake’s list of target files, which takes up three times the width of the app window, you’d think you’ve got everything covered. But who, these days, needs to rip video to Blackberry or Nokia devices?
Freemake can rip CDs too, as well as move image files between formats. But while it’s nice to be able to tailor files to Windows Media Player, PlayStations and Xboxes, we’d rather it had h265 support and working GPU acceleration - the Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti card in our test machine was invisible to the app’s digital eyes.
While it’s free to download, Freemake will embed its logo in any files you create, and it'll constantly ask you to buy extra features. Conversion settings are chosen through presets, and you’re free to create your own to tailor video files to your preferred device. After this, its a straightforward case of hitting the OK button and sitting back. Freemake is a good choice if you’re starting out with DVD ripping or have older devices you want to keep supplied with new video files, and if you’re luckier than we were with your PC’s GPU.
- Read our Freemake Video Converter review
What makes for good DVD ripper software?
The best DVD ripper software will get your a faster end result and at a higher quality. Quality is the key to work for though as a longer wait isn't an issue if you're getting a better result. Audio in sync, for example, is a key output performance indicator that's worth paying for. Here are some other areas to consider.
While you can go for a huge file or the highest quality, this isn't always ideal. Some systems will let you compress the file so you end up with a still great quality finish without taking up so much room. This can be done by taking out parts of the visual and audio spectrum that the human eye won't even notice. Most do this automatically with some offering manual setting for those that know what they're doing.
A good quality finish is important but speed can be helpful especially if you're converting a lot of discs. Find a good balance to suit you and consider if you need everything, like subtitles, in order to be the most efficient.
This comes down to deciding if you want to use automatic settings, which can set bitrates to vary per scene or stay solid throughout, or go more manual picking what you want to suit the disc. It can be a case of trial and error. You may want to go for more varied bitrates in a nature documentary that's visually engaging, for example, or leave it static for a drama where lots of the imagery is the same.
There are lots of decent free options and even paid for software shouldn't cost you much more than $50. Pay and you may find you have more features to tweak and extras like editing subtitles.
Help and support
Official sites can offer features like tutorials, upgrade offers, or a searchable knowledge base which can help you when starting out. Free versions will come as seen and you'll need to get Googling if you have any issues.