How-To Geek

How to Rip a DVD to your Hard Drive and Play it on your PC

Are you looking to for a way to play your media DVDs without rifling through your collection and swapping discs? Today we’ll take a look at ripping a DVD to your hard drive and playing it with some popular media players.

To rip our DVD we’ll use HD Decrypter which is the always free module of the DVDFab software suite. HD Decrypter will remove the copy protection from your DVD, and copy the contents of the DVD to your hard drive.

Note: You’ll get full access to all the options in DVDFab  during the 30 trial period. HD Decrypter is always free.

Download and install DVDFab. You’ll find the download link below.


If prompted with a Windows Security dialog box, select Install.


When you run DVDFab for the first time, you’ll be met with a Welcome to DVDFab screen. You can select the Do not show again to skip this screen in the future and then click Start DVDFab.


Place your DVD into your optical drive. The application will take a few seconds to open the DVD source.


Before we get started with the ripping, we’re going to change a few settings. Select the green button at the top with the white check mark.


On the Common Settings window, select DVD to DVD on the left pane. For the Default output type, we’ll select DVD Folder. The default setting of DVD Writer is used for copying and burning a DVD and won’t work after the 30 day trial is over.


Tip: If you’re going to play your ripped DVD in the Windows Media Center native Movie Library, select Create dvdid.xml which can be used by Windows Media Center. This will allow WMC to pull cover art and metadata for your movie.


You can set your output directory by selecting General on the left pane of the Common Settings…


And then browsing for your preferred output directory. On Windows 7 the default output will be C:\Users\%username%\Documents\DVDFab\


If you’ve made the changes you’ll be prompted to restart the program. Click OK then open and close the application.


On the the main interface, make sure to select Full Disc on the left and Copy DVD-Video (VIDEO_TS folder), which should be selected by default.


Under navigation select Remove annoying PGCs to eliminate unwanted program chains like FBI warnings. You can also change the Volume Label by typing a name into text box. We recommend naming the Volume label the same as the movie title, but it’s not essential.

Note: For the Quality setting, once the 30 day trial has expired your only available option will be DVD9. During the 30 day trial you can select DVD5, which will (if needed) compress the output to a size that would fit a single layer DVD.

Click Start.


As the DVD is being ripped to your hard drive, you can follow the progress. Typical ripping time may be around 15 – 20 minutes, but will vary depending on your hardware and size of the disc.


When the process its finished you’ll be notified by the DVDFab dialog box. Click OK.


That’s it. Your rip is complete. Click Finish.


When your finished you’ll have a root folder containing a VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders. The AUDIO_TS folder, however,  is really not needed and will probably just be an empty folder.

Now we’ll take a look at playing the DVD rip in a number of Windows applications.


Playback in VLC

VLC is a popular cross platform media player that can play virtually any media type and VIDEO_TS is no exception. Open VLC and select Media  > Open Folder.


Select the folder that contains your VIDEO_TS directory and click OK.


Your DVD will open just as if you were playing it from the disc.


Playback in Boxee

Add the folder containing your DVD rip(s) to the My Movies library. For Boxee to recognize it and display covert art and movie info, make sure your root folder is named the same as the title of the movie or TV show you ripped. Check out our previous article for an in depth look at setting up movie folders and managing your movie collection in Boxee.

Select your DVD from the My Movies section, then select Local File…


…and enjoy your DVD rip.


Playback on Windows 7 Media Center

Add the root folder containing the VIDEO_TS folder and XML file (if you choose to create one when your ripped the DVD) to your WMC library. Your DVD rip will still play without the xml file, but you won’t have all the nice metadata.


Click play and video playback will begin just like the DVD.


Playback on Windows Media Player 12

It’s a tad trickier on WMP 12. Instead of opening a folder, which Media Player doesn’t support, we’ll open the VIDEO_TS.IFO file.


Media Player will begin playing.



Not only is ripping your DVD collection to a hard drive a nice way to enjoy them on your computer or media center PC, it is also a great way to create backups of your media. It’ll take up much more hard drive space than compressing them to MP4 or AVI files, but in return you’ll get the full DVD experience right from the hard drive without swapping discs.

You might want to check out our previous posts if you prefer to rip and convert DVDs to ISO images, or rip your DVD and compress it with x.264 codec.



Download DVDFab / HD Decrypter

Download VLC

Download Boxee

Andrew is a media center geek with some serious Windows skills. He's never far from a WiFi connection or a great cup of coffee.

  • Published 06/28/10

Comments (14)

  1. Vistual

    very nicely put to together !
    i’ve used this quite a few times myself so i’m a bit familiar with it but for those lookinbg for a run-down on how to get this done, this tutorial will get them on their way in no time, for sure : ) …
    thanks a bunch.

  2. cyberpub

    If you want to use DVD5 compression after the 30 day trial, just uninstall DVDFab and reinstall it right before you want to copy your DVD. Once copied to the HD, I then use imgburn to create an ISO file and load it to a virtual DVD drive using the free DVDFab Virtual Drive for playing. Works great with all DVD players!

  3. Jeremy

    I blogged this as you guys are awesome as always. One question though, while I agree entirely with the spirit of what you’re doing, isn’t it illegal to break the encryption on DVDs? It’s stupid, I know, but I’ve been nervous about publicly declaring my support for removing encryption and FBI warnings. Please advise.

  4. TheBigOldDog

    DVDFab can create ISOs instead. You can then use something like Daemon tools to mount your ISOs and use any media player you want

  5. JHubbard92

    This is a VERY nice tutorial, I was supprised to see something like this on HTG LOL.

  6. Vistual

    @ Jeremy ,
    (Sigh ……………………..)
    Legality depends on the country you live in and weather or not youre rat’n on yourself.
    now if you go out and try to make bootleg copies then maybe you should be worried.

  7. Jesus

    I Use DVD Shrink and rip them to an ISO then play them in VLC or convert them with Handbrake

  8. tio

    Hi, how much is the program? thanks

  9. Pat Palmer

    Ok, so I have little kids who are really hard on dvds. A friend told me she uses DVDfab to decrypt all her dvd’s and then burns an extra copy which is the only copy her kids are allowed to touch and keeps all the originals in a large cd case. I think this is great but was wondering if it could be taken a step further. Could these decrypted movies be stored on an external hard drive and viewed on a tv, and if so how? I’ve bought a 2tb external hard drive and think something like this would be ideal if I could have it in my entertainment center and use it to view our dvd library but didn’t know how to impliment it. Could movies be accessed though a bluray player by connecting the hard drive via usb to the bluray player, and if so is there a specific format that the movie would need to be in? Any other ideas on options to go dvd free?

  10. arash

    copy & pasting DVD Contents has same result

  11. Joshua Navarro

    Awesome stuff! I like this Windows Media Center works great. My question to you all now is, does anyone know if it is possible to stream with a blu ray player? I have a blu ray player that is able to stream from netflix, youtube, and some other places. I already have an XBox in one room and I have a Blu Ray in another (find blu ray easier for older folks) and don’t want to have to buy another XBox. My guess is no but if you know of a blu ray player that has that capabilities I’d like to take a look at it and see what I can do.

    Also anyone try that Logitech revue with Google TV? Also heard about the Sony version but nothing good.

  12. robert

    Great walk through very simple and easy to understand exactly what I needed. Even though I come from a computer background I have never tried to rip a dvd before and needed a beginners guide. I went to a hand full of other sites but did not find what I was looking for until I found this one. I discoverer I am able to rip dvds a external hard drive in dvd9 then play the the disk in its entirety on my tv through its USB port! I only back up dvds I actually own and am excited to back up my favorites as I have had to replace many of them over the years. I am excited as this process should help me cut down on damage to my collection. Thanks again for the guide and recommending the software its well worth the money

  13. Amanda

    Thank you thank you thank you for walking me through this! SO happy to be able to take the kids’ dvd collection with us on a hard drive and not risk all the DVDs!!!

  14. Roderick

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! I’ve been using Dvd Shrink ever since I can remember, but it didn’t work with newer DVDs… I can rip any Dvd on the planet! Bwahahaha!

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