Best video format for backup and laptop



I have some movies that I have backed up to DVD media and still have the vob files on my computer hard drive. I am wondering what the best format would be to convert those vob files into to make each movie one file and be playable on a Windows laptop and on PCs over my network. I have DVD Catalyst and it offers many formats including DiVX, H264, XVID, etc. What is the current thinking on this?


MKV is the most popular container, there are a number of free tools available for the conversion. The video can be left as MPEG-2 or converted to MPEG-4 to conserve space. Likewise the audio can be passed through unchanged or converted to another format. A lot depends on the capabilities of the intended playback devices.

I would use Handbrake to convert to MKV using constant quality re-encode to H264 and pass the audio as-is. It takes some time but reduces file size by 30-50%.


Intended playback would be windows pc and laptop, preferably using just onboard Windows Media Player.

My DVD Catalyst has the following MKV options:


I assume the AAC audio would be higher quality than MP3. Will Windows Media Player play these?


I am also playing with handbrake. This and DVD Cat seem tailored to phones and tablets as the “backup” without specifying a device makes an 832 x 356 resolution, not 1080p. I guess I need to find software that will make backup for a larger display. The alternative is to find a utility that will simply combine the 4 or 5 vob files for each movie into one. I really don’t care so much about space, I just want them in one file for ease of copying and playing.


If you are starting with DVD-video, which I have to assume is true, since you are talking about vob files, there is virtually no advantage to up scaling the resolution of the video when converting. You will NOT be magically transforming standard definition video into the quality seen in most high definition video simply by changing the frame size.

So, if you are starting with 720 x 480 NTSC dvds, you should generally keep that resolution, as your player or tv will do the scaling for you in playback. Virtually all new equipment will obey the DAR flag (Display Aspect Ratio) and play the video correctly. Test with your specific players/tv to make sure.

What Handbrake, or Vidcoder give you in output resolution will vary a bit depending on your automatic cropping settings, and where you have the anamorphic setting. H264 and Xvid can use square pixels, which is not seen in DVD-Video, though anamorphic encoding is also possible.

So, if you want to convert to H264 in Handbrake or VidCoder, use the High Profile, set CRF to 20, change to Constant Framerate instead of Variable Framerate, and don’t screw up the picture size, just leave it at Anamorphic Loose and Modulus 2 and keep the check mark in the box that says Keep Aspect Ratio.

If you would prefer to simply merge the vobs into one file, use Vob2Mpg to combine them into one file. Or use VobMerge, which will give you one big vob file, which you can then rename with an .mpg extension. Neither of these two processes will degrade video quality, since you will simply be putting the movie into a different container.

If, for some reason, you want an mkv file, and don’t want to compress the movie, you can use MakeMKV to convert a DVD-Video to a single .mkv file. You will get the main movie only, and you will lose no video quality when doing this, as MakeMKV has no compression capabilities. The output file will be very similar in size to the original DVD.


I can’t improve what Kerry posted but I wanted to add a couple of things.

If you are using a program like Handbrake or VidCoder. These use a lot of the CPU .
This creates a lot of heat so if you can do this on a desktop with better cooling it will be better for your laptop.
Playing isn’t a problem that will create heat so a laptop will be OK for that.
If you use MPC-HC or VLC for playing you won’t need to change the .vob extension to .mpg if you use VobMerge to create one large .vob file.


I’d suggest MP4 in case you ever (lord forbid) get an i-Device. They don’t like MKV.


Thanks for all the great info, guys. I am still struggling with this a bit.

I understand the resolution now. DVD Cat was displaying the actual source resolution while I thought it should have been displaying the resolution of the playing device. That setting was elsewhere and of course does not affect the resolution of the source.

I had tried the vob merge, both with vob joiner and by manually doing it from the cmd line with a DOS command: copy /b file + file + file, etc… Strange thing is it works for some movies but others no so much. One I just did reported the correct file size for the full movie but the video length was half of what it should have been and it was in Spanish! This happened whether I used the join program or did it manually. Very strange. Then the next movie I tried worked perfectly.

I can make mp4s with Handbrake or DVD Catalyst… I am trying that weird behaving movie now to see how it comes out. My goal is to basically have a close to original quality that I can view on my network or copy to laptop and play with Win Media player… or maybe that VLC player would be better? Plus I’d also be able to use DVD Cat to convert one once in awhile to the correct MP4 for my android phone. DVD Cat is pretty easy for that by simply selecting your specific phone.


The other major issue with the one big VOB file is that if I rename it to an mpg file and delete the original individual VOBs Windows Media player will not play it. It just says unknown dvd and won’t play


Use this version of VobMerge :

I have Vista with WMP 11.
I also have the LAV codecs which WMP uses on my OS .
It plays the .mpg from the .vobs merged from a DVD with no problem.
It will also play an .mkv file.

You might find the Vob2Mpg suggested by Kerry56 also works better for you.

You shouldn’t need to delete the original individual VOBs .
Try putting the merged.vob in it’s own folder.
Do change the .vob extension to .mpg


I figured out why Win Media Player wasn’t working for the renamed big VOBs… when I renamed them it was appending moviename.mpg to .vob, even though the .vob was not visible in the rename box. So it looks like the big VOB is what I’ll do and delete the original 1 GB VOBs so HD storage will be a wash. These I can copy directly to my laptop over the network… Then I’ll just have to mp4 the ones I want to put on my phone once in awhile.

In the process I installed VLC player and it had no problem with the name.mpg.vob files… that’s how I saw they still had the VOB extension.


Go to Control Panel–>Folder Options–>View and take the check mark out of the box next to [I]Hide extensions for known file types[/I].

Click Apply, then OK.

This will let you see the real extensions of your files, and you can now modify the extensions as well. Normally you wouldn’t want to change the extensions on most files, but this will work to change vob to mpg.


yup, did that and it works for re-naming.

But… I am giving up on this project. Lots of wacky stuff going on with the players and the big vob files after renaming them. For instance, I just backed up a dvd using the DVD Shrink option to make one vob file. It named it vts01_1.vob. That plays fine in Windows Media Player and VLC. everything normal. But rename it to moviename.mpg? Windows media player time mark doesn’t display (just 00:00) and the slider doesn’t indicate position in the movie. It is solid blue all the way to the end even at the beginning. But the movie plays.

In VLC the slider and time report work, but the video is an hour short as if it is not seeing 2 or 3 segments. Same issue in WMP. Remember they both played it fine while it was a VOB file until I renamed it. Do the players need to relate the file to the IFOs and once the VOB is renamed they can’t do that? I dunno. I give up.

I did make several mp4s and those all worked well in either player and in the past have worked fine on my phone. It is just the dvd format files other than the standard structure that seem to be extremely finicky…


I’ve always preferred using Vob2Mpg if I needed an mpg file from a DVD-Video. Fewer issues all round.

IFO files are the navigational files for DVD-Video, and that information will be lost when converting to mpg. Chapter marks, menus, headers, etc.


I’ll give Vob2mpg a trial on one of those troublesome vids one of these days.