Looking for software suggestions for putting my DVDs onto my Laptop


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 24, 2003
Madison, WI
As the title says, I'm looking for software suggestions for putting my DVDs onto my laptop. Basically I'm having the problem of too much choice, and too much confusing information, that I can't figure out something that does what I want well.

I'm running a Dell laptop with Windows XP. I also have a Western Digital 120GB Passport for backup and extra storage.

Background: I'm going to be living by myself again, without acess to a TV or DVD player. I also travel a lot, and within the next 6 months or so I will probably pick up an iPhone.

Basically, here's what I'm looking to do: I want to take all my old DVDs and copy them to my computer and stick the discs in storage. I want to be able to watch DVDs on my laptop at home and when I travel. I want to also be able to have smaller files to put on a later iPhone/iPod.

Now I know there is the issue of copy protection. I think a lot of my DVD's are older, or have basic protection in place that I think I can handle, so lets not talk about that.

What I do want to know is what format I should use that will allow me to watch the files on my computer and transfer them to an iPod, and what software to use. I think I'm wlling to buy something good if its under $50. I'm looking for something easy to use, and relatively simple that will give me a good copy. What confuses me is that a lot of the software is geared towards people ripping and burning DVD's to disk. I have no desire to burn a dvd, or even burn the files to any sort of disk. I just want a copy on my hard drive. But not many software descriptions talk about that part, or how well it does it. Also, do people suggest two copies, one big for full screen action, and one small resolution for going on an iPhone?

Any suggestions will be appreciated.


macrumors 603
Oct 2, 2006
The Land of Hope and Glory
So are you going to be doing the ripping and encoding on a Mac then just transferring them via network to the laptop? Or are you planning on doing it all on the laptop? If your planning on doing it on the laptop I have no idea about windows programs although I have heard DVD Santa and DVD Shrink work well.


Moderator emeritus
Oct 21, 2003
Portland, OR
I'm running a Dell laptop with Windows XP. I also have a Western Digital 120GB Passport for backup and extra storage.
I'm confused what this has to do with a Mac?

Anyway.. DVD rips take up a lot of disk space. You might fit 12 or so on that 120GB drive.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 6, 2005
Well, it depends on the quality you want. I think you could get by with only having one file for a movie. The video might not be crystal clear on your laptop but surely good enough to watch it. There is a program called handbrake that is on Mac os x, windows and linux. Here is a link to where you can download it for free and they have a pdf on how to do the whole process to get your movies to play on your iphone/ipod in the future.

PDF: how to

Download of Handbrake (free)

DVD43 as suggested by the pdf for encryption removal (Free)

Now, you might have to play with the settings in Handbrake. Just try a few tests and see what quality you want it to be. I can't really tell you. If you plan on putting movies on your iphone in the future, don't plan on fitting all of them on there if you have a lot of storage. You can expect to take up 1/2 to a full gig per movie. Obviously it just depends on the quality. Hope this helps and let us know how it goes.


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Apr 24, 2003
Madison, WI
Thank you diamond3, thats exactly the sort of answer I was looking for. I think I might just go with one file, because I don't care a great deal for quality. Just smooth enough to not look horrible and annoying is something to live by. I think if I can get it to look ok on my laptop, and good on an iPhone, I'll be happy. After all, i spend a lot of time watching tv shows online via websites, and I'm happy with that. I think if I can up the resolution to be able to watch something full screen I'll be very very happy. Thank you for the links as well.

Alas, there are no mac involved in this equation. We can't always get the computer we asked for from Santa, so I live with my cheaper Dell. Eventually I'll save up. But there is an iPhone in my future (eventually), so this is a relevant question since iTunes and video is involved.

Thanks for all who responded. Has anyone here used Handbrake before?