01 March 2010

Free software for backing up DVDs and CDs

Free software for backing up DVDs and CDs

Most of us use DVDs and CDs a lot in our EFL classrooms and programs. The CD has long been the digital replacement for the audio cassette, and DVDs have successfully crowded out videotapes. DVDs (over CDs) are also providing a convenient, easily-stored medium on which to back up large amounts of data, including audio-visual files. BluRay is set to take the same basic idea as a DVD but extend it to much larger amounts of data. 

However, the new storage media--and this is especially true of DVDs, because so much data is being written to a relatively small surface area--are vulnerable when being handled, easily becoming partially or even entirely unreadable and unplayable. In most jurisdictions, as the purchaser of a commercial DVD, you are entitled to backing it up so that if the original becomes damaged, you have a copy.

Teachers need to re-organize their collections of audio-visual materials every semester. Backing it all up with an extra copy is a good idea as well, since taking CDs and DVDs to class can result in a lot of exposure to dirt. Handling the disks for playback or storage can lead to scratches, which start to build up after the discs have been repeatedly put in or removed from machines or storage cases.

Here is a list of suggested free titles you can run on most Windows systems in order to back up your audio-video collection.

Recommended software titles for backing up DVDs and CDs

Using the four titles listed below, I have been able to copy just about any DVD. Some of these are available for other OSes, but the dominant ones are Windows and Linux..

1. Image Burn

This title continues on development from DVD Decrypter and does a lot more. It is the best all around at cracking encryption. It will then let you save the cracked DVD as folder-files or as image file (.iso etc.). However, what you might have is a 7 GB monster that you can't burn onto a 4.7 DVD-R blank.


2. DVD Shrink

If you are stuck with a file that is too large to fit onto one blank DVD-R, this is what DVD Shrink is good for. It compresses a 6-7 GB DVD's files or image down to 4.0-4.5 GB easily, without loss of visual quality. It has a really good way of analyzing and re-encoding to enhance quality in fact.

You can then take the reduced files or image file back to Img Burn (above) and burn it, or you can use Ashampoo (below). I like Ashampoo best for burning.


3. DVD Styler

With this program I think you can burn as well. I used it, however, to re-author a DVD. I had some non-DVD files of MPGs that I then turned into a DVD. This took a long time, but I got good results.



4. Ashampoo Burning Studio Free 6.x

The best all around free deal out there. It can do a lot of what the titles above do all in one package. I haven't mastered it all yet. Good for audio CDs too. I use it as my go-to recorder though on an aging Windows XP platform. It has turned out to be the most reliable using Panasonic and IOData DVD drives on my NEC computer. Also good for turning a DVD folder-files into an image file. If there is one DVD-related software that I would upgrade from freeware to a paid version with more features, it is this one.



5. Doom9.org DVD Backup Resource Page

This has proven to be a really good website for learning how to do all of the above and much much more. If you reall get into making your own DVDs, for example.


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