Part 2b – Backing up DRM Protected DVDs with DVDfab

A while ago I set up a Home Media System to manage all my movies and television in one place.  I then started importing all my movies from DVD on to the media center.  Things were going well with most of my older movies, but I soon ran in to some problems with newer movies that have encryption or copy protection built in.  My freeware program Freemake just didn’t know how to handle them.  It tried to rip them, but I ended up with like 5MB files that wouldn’t play.

More in this series –

Not knowing exactly what had happened I turned to my best friend – Google.  I quickly discovered the disc I was working with (Fun with Dick and Jane) was from SONY and SONY is one of those companies that is super paranoid about copy protection (ARccOS).  This sent me on a quest to find a software program (still free!) that can handle decrypting DVDs.  I thought it would be relatively easy, but the more I searched the less helpful information I found.

There are tons of programs out there that offer free trials that have limited features, and you have to pay to get the part of the program that can do the decrypting.  Finally after many reviews and failures I came across DVDfab.  Now this program offers a free trial of their full version software good for 30 days (the trial parts add a big watermark right in the middle of the screen).  But after tons of research I discovered that the DVDfab HD Decrypter is included free of cost (forever).  No trial needed.  Worth a shot, right?

There is a full outline for the install process on the DVDfab site, so I won’t dive in to that myself and remake the wheel.  I had problems trying to run the software without a reboot, so it’s serious about having to restart the computer (no I don’t know why).

Now on opening it’s going to want you to buy the software, but we can just skip that.  On the license screen you’ll see that HD Decrypter is Activated and free, which means we’re all set.

dvdfab-activated

 

Click the try button to get in to the software.  Now this is where I insert my DVD, I like to have the program open first, and then when I put the DVD in, it will auto-load and do the initial scanning.

dvdfab-scanning

This may take a while, but when it finally completes you’ll be presented with the main screen to rip/burn/copy or whatever you want to do.  Lots of options (until the trial expires) but we are looking for the Copy Tab, and we’re going to Copy the Main Movie,

dvdfab-copymovie

 

Down at the bottom of the window you can select your save to location.  The buttons to the right determine if you are saving an ISO or Folder.  Make sure you’re saving a folder.

dvdfab-savelocation

 

On the left side you can choose the title of the folder you will saving to.  In this case I’m copying “Fun with Dick and Jane” so that’s what I select.

dvdfab-saveas

Then it’s just a matter of clicking the green start button and you’re off.  This worked quite well for me, once it had finished creating the file structure, I was able to open the file in Handbrake and finish encoding it in to a single media file for addition to my library.  This has the added benefit of only encoding once (DVDfab just copies, it doesn’t encode – whereas Freemake was doing a single pass encode).  Which means I get the best quality possible after the encoding process.

I’m hoping not to run in to too many encrypted DVDs in the future.  I think I’m going to stick with Freemake for now, mostly because it lets me queue up multiple titles at once (for ripping TV shows) and because it does a 1 pass encode to limit the initial file size.

Hope this was helpful for someone else out there stuck in the same position I was.  Let me know!  And make sure to check out my custom media center series for more info about handling digital media and playing it back.

NOTE – After repeating this process multiple times I discovered Handbrake was giving my audio a 2-4 second delay, and the movie was almost unwatchable in parts.  I tried multiple settings and options in Handbrake, and none of them seemed to make a difference.  Eventually I gave up and looked for another product.

What did you think?