DVD Backup format question


I have a few DVD’s that are very important to me that I want to backup, but I am unsure of how I should go about doing this. My top priority is quality and my second priority is being able to get the stuff back on a disc sould I fubar the originals.

  1. What formats have the best quality?
  2. Is there any format that is more or less likely to suffer data corrupted when stored for long periods with no use on an hdd?
  3. Is there a format that is more versatile, for example better for storage, converting to a mobile device, playing directly from the hdd and burning?
  4. How about formats prone to errors or corruption in during playback such as audio or video glitches, artifacts or defects?



The best quality will be the original dvd-video. If you convert to something like xvid, or H264, there will always be a slight amount of degradation of the video, though if it is done well, you might never see it.

No video format is more or less likely to corrupt on your hard drive. Corruption can occur, but it won’t be due to the format.

DVD-video can be converted to the various formats used in mobile devices. The question is, do you want your copies already in such a format, or do you want to do this conversion at a later time? The newer formats take less room, and that is certainly an advantage, but as I said, conversion will lessen the quality of the video to a slight degree.

If the conversions are done properly, you won’t see much in the way of glitches or artifacts, but if you compress too much or use too small a bitrate for a particular video, you can see defects in the conversion. Your original dvds may vary in quality of encoding to begin with also, so the amount of compression they can handle without showing defects may vary as well.

Assuming your dvds are not encrypted, you can make an ISO file of the entire disk using ImgBurn. If you wish to play it back, or convert from the ISO, you can mount it in a virtual drive like Slysoft’s VirtualClone Drive. You can also rip to the hard drive as files using most any dvd ripping program. If the dvds are commercially made, and encrypted, get DVDFab HD Decrypter to rip as files. It is the free section within DVDFab and will continue to function even after the trial for the main part of DVDFab expires.

If you prefer a converted format for storage, look into a program called Handbrake. It can give you .mp4 or .mkv files using either the xvid or H264 codecs. There are other choices as well, like MeGui.

All of the programs I have mentioned are free to download and use.

In the case of the dvds I am concerned with (P90X & Emperado’s Kajukenbo) there is no encryption so would an iso be better than a vob (I assume this is what you mean by original dvd-video?)?

Also you mentioned some conversion degradation being imperceptible, what format would that be and is it as versatile as vob in that it is easily convertible for other uses (mobile, hdd, dvd, etc.)? Also in this conversion, specifically back to disc would there be further quality loss that would be perceptible?



An ISO would save the entire structure of the disk, not just the video. If these are large dvds, bigger than what can be placed on a single layer dvd without compression, then I would advise storing as ISO files. They would be easy to burn to a double layer dvd (Verbatim brand only!) using ImgBurn.

Many programs cannot use ISO files directly. Some can. So mounting them in a virtual drive is an easy way to access them for those programs that cannot use ISO’s. Storing as files (Video_TS folder with all the necessary .vob, .ifo and .bup files) keeps the same quality, but you lose the layer break information of the original disks if they happen to be large dvds.

At the moment the two most popular formats for saving dvd-video when converting are divx/xvid in .avi, .mp4 or .mkv files, or H264 in .mp4 or .mkv files. Quality of conversion depends on the settings you use of course and the amount of compression you are willing to use. H264 has amazing compression capability and will yield great results, but it is not well supported in regular dvd players if burned to a disk. In fact, they probably won’t work in a regular dvd player unless it is a very new one. You probably should be able to play them in a blu ray player, since H264 is one of the codecs used in blu ray, but the players vary so much in their compatibility with non-blu ray structure that I cannot predict with any certainty that they will play in your particular blu ray player.

One advantage to converting to xvid/divx, is that you can burn them straight to a disk as data and play them on many of the newer dvd players. Make sure your dvd player has divx support before doing this…also many of the players want xvid or divx in an avi container rather than mp4 or mkv.

If you convert to H264 or xvid, then convert back to dvd-video to burn to a disk, you should expect a fair amount of quality loss. Enough to perceive on a large screen certainly.

So my advice is as follows: Save as ISO files if you have enough storage space. Convert the ISO files when necessary to compatible formats for whatever mobile devices you use, but save the ISO files as your backup. And you can burn the ISO’s straight to disk anytime you want another dvd copy for playing in dvd players. The ISO burned back to a disk should be the exact same quality as the original.

If storage space eventually becomes a problem, then you might want to save in another format, but hard drives are getting cheaper and larger all the time now.