The best DVD ripper software can convert the contents of a DVD to a file you store on your hard disk, or on a removable drive. Some of these programs are free, whereas others cost a little money per year, but all will rip DVDs, and many will work on CDs and Blu-rays too. So all the home movies you painstakingly authored to DVD after importing camcorder or miniDV footage can be reimported to your computer as a video file, and stored on a USB flash drive.
The best DVD ripper software generally saves using the h264 codec, which is as close to a universal video format as you’ll find, so compatibility is rarely an issue. It provides decent quality at reasonable file sizes, and can be played back by almost all computers, set-top boxes (if they support the function at all) and cellphones. The newer h265 - or HEVC, high-efficiency video codec - gives better results but isn’t nearly as widely supported. If you're confused about it, this is the difference between DVD ripping and copying.
Be aware of what else you may be installing when you install ripping software - it’s a segment of the market ripe with malware, and the chances of getting browser hijacks or worse along with your ripper are high if you stray from the better-known apps. Getting a premium ripper will help you avoid this entirely. And one last thing before we start, it’s worth checking out the laws in your jurisdiction, as not every country allows the making of DVD backups in this way. In the US, ripping is only legal in limited circumstances. Better to be safe than sorry.
1. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum: Best DVD ripper overall
This is the best DVD ripper software overall, with loads of ripping features
Works on: Windows, Mac | Region free?: Yes | Blu-ray ripping?: No | CD ripping?: No
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
The top free option in DVD ripping
Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux | Region free?: Yes | Blu-ray ripping?: No | CD ripping?: No
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
If you want CD ripping too, this is for you
Works on: 64GB | Region free?: Yes | Blu-ray ripping?: No | CD ripping?: Yes
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
A free Blu-ray ripper that needs a little help from Handbrake
Works on: Windows, Mac, Linux | Region free?: Yes | Blu-ray ripping?: Yes | CD ripping?: No
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
Kinda free, and works with loads of older formats
Works on: Windows | Region free?: Yes | Blu-ray ripping?: No | CD ripping?: Yes
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
How we tested the best DVD rippers
We’ve been reviewing the best DVD ripper software for almost a decade. Our team of reviewers and video experts have developed a series of tests designed to gauge each application’s usability, conversion time, customization options, exported file size, ability to bypass anti-piracy encryptions and basic video editing tools, as well as to judge the overall quality of the converted videos. We ripped dozens of DVDs, customized and optimized them for various types of devices, and timed how long it takes to perform a conversion. Our video experts then spent hours examining each video, searching for imperfections in the picture and sound.
Every DVD ripper we reviewed was subjected to a battery of tests to help us determine which ones are best for certain tasks.
- Usability Test: We inspected each program’s interface and workflow, as well as counted the number of clicks it takes to perform common tasks such as loading a disc, starting a conversion, and accessing video editing tools and other customization features. We also evaluated whether each program is easy to use for a person with little or no DVD-ripping experience.
- Timing Test: We timed how long it took each program to rip a DVD and convert it into a format that’s playable by other media software. Times ranged from less than 30 minutes to over two hours, and we found that the time it takes to convert a ripped file has no effect on its final quality.
- Size Test: After using each software, we looked at the size of the ripped files it created. Smaller files are better because they take up less room on your computer or other device. The best DVD rippers created files between 2GB and 3GB, and lower-performing programs bloated files up to as large as 20GB.
- Quality Test: We used each program we reviewed to rip and convert the same DVD. When we were done, our video experts watched the ripped files on a large-screen television and searched for imperfections such as compression artifacts, motion blur, ghosting and interlacing issues. The best programs produced files with minimal or no quality loss compared to the source material.
What makes for good DVD ripper software?
The best DVD rippers have a variety of features and tools that allow you to rip and convert DVDs, as well as edit the resulting files. Below are the criteria we used to rate and rank these applications:
Every application we reviewed has the ability to convert DVDs into the most popular video file formats such as MP4, MOV and AVI. But the best go far beyond that. They offer a library of preprogrammed optimization profiles for specific devices such as smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, smart TVs and more.
The usefulness of these programs increases as the number of options rises. For example, our top pick allows you to optimize your DVD conversions for more than 100 specific smartphone and tablets models, while our value pick only provides six. If you have multiple devices, or even a device that’s obscure or rare, there’s a much better chance our top pick will have an optimization profile for it.
The best DVD rippers convert quickly, and the files they convert are high quality and a manageable size. Also, an application’s interface should be intuitive and allow you to start a rip in three steps or less. Furthermore, the best rippers can extract audio clips from discs, capture subtitles and more. When we assessed each program’s ripping attributes, we consider which features and tools it has, as well as how well they work.
Even the most exhaustive library of preprogrammed output profiles can’t cover the many ways you can customize a video. As such, the best programs allow you manually adjust codecs, aspect ratios, bit-rates, frame rates and more before you rip a DVD. Also, most of the products we reviewed include a basic video editor you can use to trim away unwanted footage, crop video, add watermarks and edit subtitles.
How much does DVD ripper software cost?
Generally, you can expect to pay between $40 to $50 for the best DVD ripper software. This is a fair price, considering the functionality you get. If a program simply ripped videos, it might not be worth it. But the fact that they include editors, converters and optimizers make them more than worth the price tag.
Can I get help and support for my DVD rip software?
No matter how easy an application is to use, you may occasionally need support. Manufacturers that provide excellent customer service make the best DVD rippers. Look for a program that comes with tutorials, FAQs and a knowledgebase on the developer’s website. In case you can’t find your answers there, manufacturers should also offer email or live chat support.
Can I get any good free DVD ripper software?
If you’re short on cash or only need the bare minimum from a DVD ripper, Handbrake may suit your needs. It is free, open source software that’s been around for a long time. The program can rip DVDs, but like Prism, it’s limited to ripping unprotected discs. Plus, it’s a bit advanced for casual users. Unless you’re a media whiz, you’re better off paying for an easy-to-use program like the ones we reviewed.