Using an External Hard Drive to Store Your Home DVD Library Backups

By Jessica Drew
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If you have an expansive collection of DVDs saved on your computer or on physical discs, a great way to make backups of your collection is to rip your DVD library onto an external hard drive. Some people do not even care about making backup digital copies of their DVD library; rather, they only care about saving precious hard drive space on their computers if their movies are saved on their laptop or desktop. If you own an Apple TV, Xbox 360 or Windows Media Center, having your DVD library saved on an external hard drive is the easiest way to stream and watch your movies on your HDTV. There are many reasons to back up and save your movie collection on an external hard drive, and here’s how you do it:

How to Store Your DVD Library on an External hard drive

The first thing you need before you can start this process is an external hard drive. Sometimes a new computer may come with an external hard drive, but most often, you have to purchase this device separately. If you’re unsure about which type of hard drive to buy, go into a computer or electronics store and consult with a tech-savvy employee.

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Once you have your external hard drive, you will need DVD copy software. You need a combination of two types of DVD copy software, or separate suites for first ripping DVDs and then compressing the ripped, digital version of those DVDs. A couple of the top-rated DVD ripping suites include DVD Cloner and 1Click DVD Copy, which can both decrypt copyrighted DVDs’ CSS protections and region codes.

These particular software suites also have the ability to compress DVD files so they will fit on your external hard drive. These suites provide all the software you’ll need, and the packs run between $40 and $60. You can also use free, open-source software such as DVD Shrink and Handbrake, but these applications are more time consuming and require more technical know-how.

How to Play Your DVD Library from an External Hard Drive

Once you have saved your DVD library on your external hard drive, the digital files are compressed down to a very small size. You’ll need yet another software application to actually open and un-compress the files so you can watch these movies. Don’t worry, though; it’s quicker and easier than it sounds.

DVD Play and VLC are helper applications that allow you to easily look through and quickly play movies saved on your external hard drive. Both software applications are free. My Movies2 is another option if you use Windows Media Center. My Movies2 is a great tool that integrates Windows Media Center with whichever operating system you use and allows you to manage your DVD library in an aesthetically pleasing display.

It’s also important to note that most DVD ripping and compression software creates two files on your external hard drive for each movie in your DVD library. Usually, these files are named VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS. The audio file contains movie extras, special features and subtitle capabilities, so if you don’t want to watch these, open only the video file when you’re ready to watch a movie.

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