If you want to take your movies with you on the road or ditch your physical discs to save space, you'll need to rip them first. Thankfully, there are plenty of great utilities designed to make the process easy and give you files that are playable on any device you choose. Here are five of the best, based on your nominations.
We've praised MakeMKV before for its ability to quickly and easily rip DVDs and Blu-ray discs to high quality MKV files with a single click. The app has been in beta for a long time (years, in fact), but that has an upside: the developers plan to start charging for Blu-ray ripping once the app leaves beta. It's fast, super-easy to use, and cross-platform (a Linux version is available in the MakeMKV forums.) The app preserves all of the source disc's information, including tracks, chapters, HD audio and menus, and is completely free.
DVDFab HD (Windows/Mac)
DVDFab's shift to supporting multiple platforms and Blu-ray offering made it a popular choice. The app is frequently updated to cut through the copy protection on even the latest DVDs and Blu-ray discs (so make sure you're only ripping discs you own, okay?) As well, the price is right: the app is shareware, meaning most features are free, including decrypting and ripping to your hard drive, while additional features cost between $US45 and $US60. You might choose to use another app for compression and authoring, but full-size rips from DVDFab are easy to create and work well.
Handbrake is our favourite video encoder for a reason: it's simple, easy to use, easy to install, and offers a wealth of tweaking options to get the best possible file as a result. If you're daunted by those choices, you don't even have to use them -- the app will compensate for you and pick some settings it thinks you'll like based on your destination device. Handbrake is a popular choice to use in conjunction with other apps: let another package do the rip and crack the DRM on your discs, and then process the file through Handbrake for encoding. Handbrake is fast, can make the most of multi-core processors to speed up the process, and is completely open source. Best of all, it's completely free.
AnyDVD/AnyDVD HD (Windows)
AnyDVD (which rips DVDs only) and AnyDVD HD (which supports Blu-rays and HD DVDs) both scored praise from readers for their solid feature set and frequent updates to get around the copy protection that many disc publishers include . The app can handle unwanted DRM, remove region restrictions, disables forced subtitles or delays, and even plays nice with DVD authoring tools if you're backing up your movies. You can try AnyDVD for free, but its features will cost you: AnyDVD is 49EURand AnyDVD HD is 79EUR.
It's amazing how time flies. DVD Shrink halted development back in 2005, but it's still one of your favourite decrypting, ripping, and compressing utility. It hasn't been updated since 2005, which means its support for newer discs is spotty at best, but when it does work, it works well and results in small files that are great for portability. In fact, some of you called it out specifically for its compression, which many newer apps haven't been able to match. It's also very easy to use, and completely free. If you love DVD Shrink, you'd also love Lifehacker's own DVD Rip, developed by our own Adam Pash to work with DVD Shrink and make the ripping process as simple and painless as possible. That app is also free.
An honourable mention this week goes out to DVD Decrypter. The app has been around since 2005, and even though development was halted and the project shut down, mirrors (such as the one linked above) carry on its legacy.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? <We're all ears in the comments.