Technology

Copy your DVD Movies to Disk

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum

Friction Factor   =   LOW FRICTION
Value   =   RECOMMENDED

  This article is part of a series related to Are Home Theater PCs Ready for Prime Time?

WinXDVD Ripper PlatinumWhere to buy this solution:       WinX DVD Ripper Platinum       WinX DVD Ripper Platinum + WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe Bundle       WinX Blu-ray Decrypter

 
I want to copy my movie DVDs to hard disk

First, an emphasis that the purpose of this article is not to encourage illegal copying and distribution of movies. Rather, this is a logical extention of my series of articles on home theater PCs—how to move your personal movie library onto your home network so that you can enjoy all the advantages of your media center for your movies, too. I wish a different term than "ripping" had been applied to the process of copying the DVD to disk. On the other hand, there is unfortunately an awful lot of movie piracy that comes of this. Please play fair with those who invest to provide these movies, just as you would not be pleased to have money stolen from you.

 
Do you want an image of each DVD or just the movie file?

Choice 1: Make an image copy (ISO file) of your movie DVD. With this option you will end up playing a file on your computer that acts the same as when you play your DVD. You'll still get the legal warnings, the movie trailers, the special features, a button to play the movie, etc. The only difference will be that encryption and copy protection has been removed. Thus, you can skip past things that the DVD forces you to sit through. This choice requires that you have a virtual optical drive application (more on that below).

Choice 2: Copy the movie to file. When you launch the file, the movie itself starts running immediately. With this choice you can save to a variety of formats according to personal preference and available movie player and CODECs.

Both choices will be discussed below.

 

What is a CODEC? The term is short for compressor-decompressor. The wide selection of CODECs reflect efforts to optimize often mutually exclusive goals in quality, file size, and performance. Related to this are the variety of video formats (AVI, MP3, WMV...) that require whatever software player(s) is supported by the equipment you're using (PC, iPhone, Android, etc.). Some players support multiple video formats and provide the necessary CODEC as part of their installation. For example, Windows Media Player supports formats with file name extensions of avi, wav, wma, mp3, and several others.

 
Seeking the Best-of-Breed Solution

Coming into this search as a movie ripping neophyte, my first effort some months ago resulted in movies on disk that were horrendous in quality. I couldn't believe anybody would even offer such products for sale.

Recently I tried again. I searched for a lot of solutions and finally succeeded in finding a good one. See below about the friction factor I experienced as I searched for the right solution.

 
Discovery: the it can't get any easier than this solution

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is a pleasure to use. When opened there are a lot of options on the screen and some are confusing until you figure out what planet you're on. But even for this movie ripping novice, once I understood that all you need to do is "load" the DVD and press Start, it was hard to hold back a big smile. Let's take a look at the actual screens.

When you open WinX DVD Ripper this screen is displayed. Check the tabs at the middle of the screen; ensure that the "Copy" tab is selected. Optionally change the output folder to your desired destination. WinX DVD Ripper seems to always put the main movie track as the first title, automatically selected by default (nice). So just click the big Start button. So easy!

WinXDVD Ripper Platinum

 
The movie is copied to disk at accelerated speed. When finished, go to the destination folder, rename the copied movie file if desired, and run it. It's that easy.

WinXDVD Ripper Platinum

 
If you want to create an ISO copy of the movie DVD, i.e., a complete image of the entire DVD, then change the Profile Setting to "Full Disc ISO Image Copy" and click Start.

WinXDVD Ripper Platinum

 
ISO and Virtual CloneDrive

An ISO is a full image of the DVD. You can "burn" the ISO to a blank DVD and make a copy of the movie that way. But we want the convenience of running the movie from our disk storage media collection, right? So to run an ISO file directly from disk you have to make the computer think it's running it from a DVD drive. This, too, is easy and free to accomplish. Download and install Virtual CloneDrive from Slysoft. It will recognize when you play an ISO file and will automatically load it via Virtual CloneDrive.

 
For Other Formats and Players

You will no doubt have noticed that there are other tabs that let you save your copy to other formats. In addition there are settings that let you adjust audio quality and other settings as you learn enough about them to make a difference.

 
Managing and Playing Your Movie Files

Organize your movie files into folders as you would any other files. Movie files, especially high definition movies, are large files, so you'll need plenty of disk space. Also, if it would make you unhappy to lose those files, make sure you back them up as part of your regular backup strategy.

Your Movies Library: In Windows Media Center go into Tasks => Settings => Media Libraries and add the folders that have your movies. Then you can view your movie library and select movies to watch from within WMC.

I also like to be able to jump directly to my movie folders in my home theater PC, so I put shortcuts on the desktop to the movie folders. I use Windows 7 libraries to bring all the folders into one view.

Consider getting a Windows Home Server (WHS) for your home network, which I very highly recommend, and store your movies in its centrally accessible disk space. WHS will also magically do the critically important task of automatically backing up all of your home computers every night.

 

My friction factors while trying to find the best-of-breed solution.

It was complicated by vendors making the wrong assumptions about my questions. They all seem to start from the assumption that people who are interested in their product already know how the process works. For example, with one product I tried, I opened a movie DVD within that product and got a long list of titles or tracks. When I saved the movie to disk I ended up with just one short segment that wasn't even part of the movie. I scrolled the entire list of tracks and didn't find any that represented the entire movie. I assumed then that a movie DVD is separated into individual segments for special features, introductions, etc. and into individual chapters for the main movie. And there was no apparent way to select all the "tracks" and have them saved to disk in proper order as a merged file.

To me this seemed the epitomy of uselessness. And when I tried to ask how to accomplish what I wanted (what anybody would want), I got answers that "merge isn't supported" and similar. Obviously I was doing things entirely incorrectly and this lack of understanding will be humorous to those who know stuff. But the entire purpose of this publication is to find low friction solutions for mortals.

In fact, I even got a similar answer from Digiarty. But, as it turns out with Digiarty's WinXDVD Platinum, the main movie track is in the list, automatically listed at the top, is marked by default, and simply clicking the Start button results in what is needed—a movie file on disk. So I was immediately lifted from confusion to amazement.

 
Where to buy WinX DVD Ripper Platinum:       WinX DVD Ripper Platinum       WinX DVD Ripper Platinum + WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe Bundle       WinX Blu-ray Decrypter

 


Copyright 2011 FrictionFactor.com

Server Hosting: Finding the Best Company

DigitalForest

Company:   Digital Forest (now Digital Fortress)

Friction Factor   =   HIGH FRICTION
Value   =   NO LONGER RECOMMENDED

12101 Tukwila International Blvd., Suite 410, Seattle, WA 98168 http://www.forest.net 877-720-0483, 206-838-1630  

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON OCTOBER 26, 2013:
A NEW RECOMMENDED SERVICE

Since the sudden deterioration of Digital Fortress service we had to find a replacement company. Please see this article:

Cari.net for dedicated and hosted cloud servers

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON JULY 11, 2013

Digital Forest was recently bought out and its name changed to Digital Fortress. The new owners and new staff have totally changed the corporate culture and quality of service in a very negative way. Response time, with some exceptions, has gone into the toilet. Even for emergency situations, of which I have been experiencing multiple times now, response time is measured in many hours. When I call to get support after hours I reach a technician who listens and then reports that the help I need is in another department (even though I called the number I was given for my support department) and that I would have to be transferred. I would then have to wait for someone to come in at the normal start of business (noon my time) before the issue could be resolved. And then it is often hours more.

We started getting charged hundreds of dollars more and once the error was acknowledged I have been waiting months for credit to be applied. As of now it is still not been done and my inquiries about it and other promised information fall into a black hole.

I also learned that this revised company, being in the server hosting business, has nobody on staff who can handle simple SQL Server admin.

Not good.

 

On Hosting Services

For the last three decades I have been involved in the development of cloud-based software applications. In the pre-Web days this was accomplished via packet-switching networks like Infonet. With the growth of the Web, piggybacked onto the Internet, we gained much more convenient access to applications. The advancements in the Web since those days has, of course, been phenomenal.

If you want to create your own cloud-based application or just a regular website, you'll need a server for it that is connected to the Internet. Many companies do this with their own equipment, connections, and technical resources. Some even run web servers from home.

Your basic server hosting options:

  1. Option 1: Roll your own. Expectation: Pain—way more than you counted on unless this is a special area of interest and expertise for you and you are willing to have the equivalent of a costly high maintenance pet that must be cared for every day 24/7 for life (or you have the resources to pay someone else to handle all the maintenance, upgrades, babysitting, etc.) and your either have strong physical security for the server or that is somehow not a concern.
  2. Option 2: Subscribe to a shared hosting service. Expectation: Reduced cost, reduced performance, reduced options. I use this option via Godaddy.com for this publication. The cost is miniscule, I don't have to configure my own leased dedicated servers to run it (Wordpress hosting is a cookie-cutter solution at Godaddy), I don't have to worry about it interfering with my business applications, and, as you may have noticed, performance sometimes stinks.
  3. Option 3: Colocate server and related equipment that you own at a hosting service. Expectation: Why? Your purchase cost is much less than the cost to lease the equipment from the hosting company. But then you are responsible for providing replacement equipment when needed (which can put you out of business for an extended period unless you maintain replacement equipment on site).
  4. Option 4: Lease a dedicated managed server(s) from a quality hosting service. Expectation: Angels sing if you make the right decision on the hosting company. If not, let's not quibble about it—you just reserved a condo in hell.
  5. Added on October 26, 2013: Option 5: Hosted cloud server(s). Expectation: Angels sing with heavenly symphony, but see previous comment about making the right decision for the hosting company. I have visited hosting hell. You do not want to go there.

    This option has become a preferred option since I originally wrote this article. With a hosted cloud server you enjoy the benefits of a dedicated server with much greater convenience and lower cost.

    Has the information in FrictionFactor been helpful to you?

    Please take a moment now to support this effort with a donation. It is processed securely by Paypal. While any amount is appreciated, you might consider your cost or friction savings. Thank you!

    A hosted cloud server is a virtual server. The server, including firewall if desired, can be set up in minutes. The hosting company maintains backups of its cloud server infrastructure. So if something happens to your virtual server, it can be restored or "components" replaced very quickly, greatly minimizing the single point of failure risks of hardware failures. Changing server resources such as RAM and disk space is a simple process that can be managed almost immediately from your control panel (versus a process of ordering and waiting for the installation of new hardware).

    With modern technology, the virtual servers in a hosted cloud service have as good performance as their dedicated server counterparts.

    For HIPAA compliance, the law is not yet clear on whether a hosted cloud server can meet the requirements. A hosted cloud server is on "shared" hardware, however, it is secure and may pass a HIPAA audit, maybe even likely if a private cloud is set up (somewhat higher cost).

    Hosted cloud servers are more easily scalable and, like dedicated servers, can be used for special requirements such as geographic redundancy, load balancing, and data warehousing.

Here's my rather strong opinion about server hosting: If yours is a business application and you're serious about its success, then you be the expert in your business and let the right server hosting company be your expert in that part of the business. I have zero interest in providing my own Internet server hosting solution, even if it saves significantly on the cost. Setting up a server as an Internet-based host is not all that big a deal. Keeping it up and maintained is a very big deal.

Do you really want to be on call 24/7/365 and have to deal with IIS, DNS, and IP settings and changes, third party software management, email server configuration and maintenance, SMTP changes, data backup chores, operating system upgrades, security settings and rules, and the myriad other details that must be managed for the smooth operation of your servers?

With our dedicated leased servers, we get RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) access. So my developers and I have full, secure, unrestricted access to our servers. We can do anything we need to do, but because of Digital Forest's expertise and great customer service attitude, we don't have to worry about any of the server maintenance and management. We can spend our time on the things that are directly important to our business. Besides, Digital Forest techs do this regularly and can do it much faster and with less chance of error than we could do. Well, I can say that about Digital Forest, but the reality with any other company I've tried has been just the opposite.

Tip: don't base your hosting decision on the base cost of the hosting service. That is the smallest of your costs. It's all the rest that may be the difference between being profitable and sane.

 
Pick the Right Server Hosting Company

First, let's make some assumptions about what a server hosting company must have just to be considered. Your candidate server hosting company will have racks filled and to be filled with rackmounted computers and network gear in a climate controlled facility. It will have high bandwidth Internet-backbone connections with redundant service. It will have a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art network operations center (NOC) with physical access security and serious uninterruptable power backup capabilities tied to battery and filtered generators. It will have top line data backup facilities and off-site data backup rotations.

Then comes the huge differentiator—your server hosting company will have competent technical talent.

Over years I've tried a variety of dedicated leased server hosting companies including what was, at least at the time, the largest in the country, Interland. I blame them for my bald dome. I couldn't even begin to convey the degree of contempt I acquired over the extreme incompetency these companies exhibited time after time. I could never trust them to do even the simplest task correctly. If I needed, for example, a simple DNS change, I came to expect that my site would be down for periods ranging from hours to days as a result of it being done incorrectly, and then incorrectly again when their mistake was "fixed"...even if I exactly spelled out to them what to do. It got to where I couldn't trust them to manage my servers and I had to do it all myself via RDP connection.

 
What is the Low Friction Solution?

With this single recommendation I can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in grief, lost employee time, sacrificed customer goodwill, and real dollars. It will far more than cover your cost for subscribing to this publication. Wait... there is no subscription cost here. Ok, just send me 10% of what you figure you've saved.

Go to Digital Forest. Now Cari.net is recommended.

Their website may not be very sexy, but they have the right facilities, they have the right people, and their people are highly competent. When I submit a request on the Digital Forest online help desk, it is completed in a timely manner, it is done right (the first time), and it is done with a wonderfully positive customer service attitude. And they are competitively priced.

Where with the other hosting companies I had constant grief that cost far more than the hosting service, I have now been with Digital Forest for several years and have not had even one bad experience. They do it right. Clean and simple.

We started out with a simple two server solution, a production server and a development server. For our healthcare industry solution, MedTegra.com, Digital Forest has configured for us a leading edge server farm with several virtual servers in a secure three-tier architecture, RAID, redundant power supplies, hardware firewall and other security services, network switch, etc. In addition they host all of our email domains on their own top line email servers including anti-virus and spam protection and provide us with excellent email management tools.

When we are ready they will be able to scale our server farm to add file servers, geographically dispersed and balanced mirrors, and anything else we need in the network and Internet world because they really know this stuff.

Has the information in FrictionFactor been helpful to you?

Please take a moment now to support this effort with a donation. It is processed securely by Paypal. While any amount is appreciated, you might consider your cost or friction savings. Thank you!

 


Copyright 2013 FrictionFactor.com