Back up your DVD’s on Mac OS X – A simple solution

I am a proud parent of two young boys. My boys aren’t gentle — (virtually) everything that they touch breaks. While it’s totally unintentional, it is still frustrating, especially when my youngest (who likes to play DJ) places a DVD into a player and the disc gets scratched to the point that it skips.

The boys recently received three They Might Be Giants CD/DVD sets so I decided to first back up the originals. I produced copies in case one was damaged by Mr DJ. If one became too damaged, I could easily burn another copy in a jiffy.

When I searched for a solution to duplicate the DVD’s on Mac OS X (Snow Leopard), I found that most options required that I pay $25 – $30 for software. While I’m happy to support the software development community, I knew that I could use the hdiutil application to convert the DVD’s into an appropriate format. But I wanted an inexpensive solution that had a simple interface that anyone could use. After completing a thorough search, I came up with a solution.

NOTE: I am not advocating that you burn copyright materials. That’s illegal so beware! The instructions below are only for backing up DVD’s that you’ve purchased and intend to use for personal/non-commercial purposes.

The Software

To back up your DVD’s on a Mac, you need two pieces of software: MacTheRipper (v2.6.6) and Burn (v2.3).

The Process

Step #1
Using MacTheRipper, rip the DVD onto your hard drive. This process generates the VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS files that you’ll need in the next step.

Step #2
Using Burn, simply:

  1. Click on the Video tab
  2. Add a title for your DVD
  3. Change the Video option to DVD-Video
  4. And add the VIDEO_TS folder

Once you insert a blank DVD into your superdrive, click the Burn button and then wait for the process to complete (see user interface below). If you’re lost, watch the video on burning the VIDEO_TS folder.


Any gotcha’s?

In Snow Leopard, I kept getting a “There was a problem authoring the DVD” error. This can be fixed by updating the general setting for the temporary folder (just pick an existing location). Any other problems should be referred to the support forums on SourceForge. Hope that this helps other geeky dads trying to save your DVD’s from getting scratched.

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