Dell PCs come from the factory with a bunch of useless applications running in the background. These proggies can pull 200 MB of RAM with the PC in idle mode. To make sure that you have sufficient RAM to process a DVD back up session, reboot the PC and right click the TASKBAR. Select TASK MANAGER and click on the Performance tab. Let this program run in the background. At the end of your DVD back up sesssion, check the PEAK COMMIT CHARGE on TASK MANAGER. If this number is more than 512000 K, then you should add a pair of 512 MB RAM modules.
In Windows, go to Device Manager\IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. Right click the Primary IDE channel and select UNINSTALL. Repeat for Secondary IDE channel.
Reboot the PC and go into BIOS. Look under the NEC 3450a drive and make sure it is set to AUTO DETECT. Save and exit. Reboot to Windows.
Now go back to Device Manager\IDE ATA/ATAPI and click on Primary IDE channel. Make sure Device 0 and Device 1 under ADVANCED SETTINGS tab are set to use DMA IF AVAILABLE. Repeat for Secondary IDE channel. Note that you will see the NEC drive running in ULTRA DMA MODE 2.
Always leave about 14 GB of free space in your hard drive to process a DVD movie (9 GB to rip a DL title to the hard drive, and another 5GB for the output files). Also defrag your hard drive once a week.
Delete the stuffs that you don't need from the hard drive. The access speed of data stored near the end of the hard drive is very slow. I would recommend that you keep 20 GB of free space for optimum performance. And DEFRAG the hard drive.
Are you using a modified firmware to disable riplock in the NEC? If not, then the rip speed will be stuck around 3x. That's 40 min for an average 2 hr movie. Add another 10 to 15 min to transcode the data at 50% compression. Shrink is FREE, but it is not very fast.