Best format to backup DVD to hard drive

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by jwatc75, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. jwatc75 macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    Hi, I have copied 10 family video VHS tapes to DVD (Sony combo unit) for in-laws as I thought that was best solution. However it took me 3-4 DVD's per tape and as I'm reading on forum DVD's will be obsolete soon. Instead of handing them 40 DVD's I would like to purchase them an external HD that I can put the movies on so they will be able to connect the HD directly to TV and watch movies that way. They would also be able to share HD with extended family to copy videos to their own HD or thumbdrive.

    Which format would be best to use for this? For instance, I put a VOB file and an MP4 file on thumbdrive plugged it in to TV. The VOB was able to play but the MP4 was not. Which format would be most universal for play on TV? MOV? WMV? MPEG? I would probably only be doing a little editing of the VOB files I have; each VHS tape is on 3-4 DVD's so I would want to create 1 video file per VHS tape and perhaps edit out a few "snow" scenes. Editing could be done on Imovie or Windows Movie Maker.

    I have PC and MBPro (2008 version with 4GBRam) and a lot of the software that is talked about in forum. Thanks for your help in advance!
  2. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    Handbrake will convert your DVDs to a video file:

    MPEGStreamclip will play the VOB files and will export to various formats. You can also do some editing with it as well.

    Both these apps are free.

    Depends on the TV. Different TVs have different formats. I think mp4 is the most common, but I could be wrong.
  3. jwatc75 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    Dave thanks for the reply. I have already converted the DVD's to video files using DVDShrink. Would it be better if I ripped them again using Handbrake or would it be same quality? Also, if I use Handbrake, would I leave it at H.264? I'm still learning the basics of codecs.
  4. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I would have to see the files you created to say if the quality would be better. Handbrake does a really great job though. Why not just do one and with handbrake and compare it with what you have. Do whichever looks best.

    As for codecs, H.264 is likely your best bet. Good quality compression without huge file sizes. Plus most TV's can play them. I can't really say for sure if yours can without knowing the model though.
  5. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    For a moment, put format to the side. Consider what you want to do and the quality of transfer.

    If you want to play only on your system, various formats would work. If you want to be able to send to family or friends, using VOB files is a good option since you can create your own DVD (with menus assuming you have software).

    As for formats, VHS is not really high quality (in general) as far as resolution and audio. Compressing via file transfer means you lose more image (and possibly audio depending on how you transfer).

    What you may want to do is see what your TV can play. Typical files might include : VOB, mp4, avi, divx, m2ts, ts and mkv suffix. VHS might do well with VOB as a good option or mkv with no added compression. Given that storage is relatively cheap why compress and further denature your transfers?
  6. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Yeah, the only reasons to compress is if you were streaming the files wirelessly (like a AppleTV) or you run out of storage.
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The best archive format is the one with the least amount of processing. So, how are you converting the tape? What format is is converted to? Save that if you want the best quality.

    If you want to save space use H264 video codec inside an MP4 file. This can always be converted but likely you will never have to unless you want to burn a DVD.

    I hope you are not keeping just one copy on disk. You need redundant backupsand you need to periodically rotate the media, buy new disk drives and retire the old ones. The process never ends.
  8. jwatc75 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    Thanks for the replies!

    I converted the VHS tape to DVD via a Sony VHS/DVD combo unit. I burned the DVD's I put the DVD's in PC and ripped them via DVDShrink, so now I have VOB files. I converted 1 VOB file to MP4 via Windows Movie Maker as a trial. I put VOB and MP4 on thumb drive and plugged into my TV, the VOB played the MP4 did not. I was hoping there was a universal container for playing on TV, but it's my understanding there isn't. Not a huge problem, I will save in 2 formats then.

    I understand I need to limit compression/processing. However, each VHS tape produced 3 to 4 DVD's. I will likely drop all the videos from one VHS tape into IMovie or Movie Maker (unless there is better freeware out there) to create one video per VHS tape.

    So in summary it would look like this:
    Option 1:
    VHS to DVD (Sony DVD Burner), DVD ripped to VOB files (DVDShrink). I can save those VOB's as one format.
    Option 2:
    VHS to DVD (Sony DVD Burner), DVD to MP4 (Handbrake). With the MP4, I can leave them in that format or put them through IMovie or Movie Maker to create one file per VHS tape. Not sure what output container should be there though. .MOV?
  9. jwatc75 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    Well I think I found solution and wanted to post if someone was in similar situation. Instead of trying to find universal format to play on TV (via USB from hard drive) I decided to look into DVD/Blue-ray players. Some of the most basic Blue-ray can play just about any format (vob, mp4, mkv, mov, avi). So in addition to purchasing the hard drive for in-laws looks like they'll get Blue-ray as well. Thanks again!
  10. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    I think you're looking in the wrong direction. Optical media is dying. Streaming is the future.
  11. rpenzinger macrumors member

    Aug 12, 2010
    Agreed!!! Don't bother with Blu-Ray. Keep it digital. A digital file can always be converted with greater ease in the future if need be.

    Optical media is already dead. Just not everyone realizes it yet.
  12. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    Hopefully Apple will update the ATV with home video sharing similar to Photosync.
  13. jwatc75 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    I'm assuming optical media is DVD/Blue-ray (reading from disc). My intention is only to go through Blue-ray from hard drive to TV, not from DVD/Blue-ray disc itself.

    I'm confused on what streaming is I guess. I could stream video with hard drive networked into router correct? Blue-ray player or maybe Smart TV could then stream video from network either wired or wirelessly?
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Some TVs can play VOB files, some play MKV and MP4 and divx etc.

    If you are using DVDshrink you are not in bad shape for making DVDs. Just realize there are two formats of DVD out there and one is about twice as large as the other (holds near double capacity and often referred to as dual layer).

    Play back is always a challenge as TVs, DVD and Blu Ray players, computers, 3rd party media solutions (ATV, Western Digital Live, and more) can handle various formats as well but not all formats.

    As for the comment on discs being a dying technology, sales say otherwise and in fact, newer technologies are on the horizon (such as red ray which holds even more data than blu ray). Disc technology goes through evolution and more often than not, are backwards compatible. I doubt I would buy a DVD player but would opt for a Blu Ray player as it will handle both and CD.

    Sadly, there is no universal player that plays everything (other than perhaps a computer set up with appropriate software). There are some players that come close such as the Dune HD media player, Oppo Blu Ray player and a few others. None are cheap but certainly not all are expensive either.

    From my TV, I stream Amazon Prime.
    From my Blu Ray player I can stream Netflix, Vudu and also all of my media files on drives. Even my TiVo can handle some types of files. My Mac Mini with XBMC (Linux install) can pretty much play everything I throw at it in terms of files. So pick and choose what works best for you, the budget constraints and play back possibilities.
  15. nep61 macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2007
    Might be true, but I just did the same conversion of VHS tapes for some family members... I burned DVDs. Not everyone is into streaming. I have family members who still have a VHS deck hooked up to a 60" flat screen....I'm sure many of you out there do too...
    Not everyone has a surround system, not everyone will understand the various formats.
    Yes, the optical media formats are/ is dying, but really.... VHS? Those files will never look any better than they do on the original tape... And if they do, it'll be marginal.

    The DVDs are easy for anyone to use.... There won't be the random phone call from family members about not connecting the computer to the TV or software updates.

    When undertaking a project like this for the family...(and I've done TONS of video conversions like this over the years) the simplest path is best.
    DVDs will die off soon enough, just not tomorrow.

    Just my 2 cents.
  16. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Agreed. Many times standalone is the best practical way to go. Streaming can fail for a variety of not-so-obvious reasons: variable link speed (most common with wireless internet access), too many connections on the same router at the same time, software updates, overload on the player (when a computer, Flash can kill performance big time), non-HDCP-approved content.

    I never stream. Always have hiccups, unexplained long load times, and rather download stuff, both for music and movies.

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