I'd really like to copy all my DVDs to disk for convenience access, since I prefer browsing my filesystem to fiddling with disks. All solutions I've found yet (like dvd::rip) re-encode the contents and need complex manual steps. This question about VOBs also makes me wonder whether this is possible at all.

Is there a good DVD archival-to-/play-from-hdd tool that allows storing the DVD's content losslessly? If not, what are the technical hurdles to such a thing?

  • 1
    Make an iso image for that DVD?
    – karthick87
    Dec 26 '10 at 10:37
  • @karthik87: that's enough? please post it as answer so i can upvote it! (follow-up question: are there usable iso-library tools/browsers?) Dec 26 '10 at 11:54

The best way to do this is to create an ISO file from the DVD. You can then play the ISO file using VLC or mount it and use it as if you had inserted the DVD into the drive.

There is a really easy method that can be used for non evil DVDs. Simply insert the DVD, right click on the desktop icon that appears and click 'Copy Disk...'.

alt text

Then choose to output to an image file:

alt text

This will create the ISO file. However, some companies feel the need to deliberately corrupt the DVD in a (successful) attempt to stop us making copies (which we are legally entitled to do for personal use) of our DVDs. If they do this, like in the DVD I am using for the screenshots, Brasero, the software used to copy the disk will crash.

There is an alternative method to copy DVDs that uses the command line with this command:

dd if=/dev/dvd of=~/dvd_backup.iso

If this fails also, which is likely for evil corrupted DVDs, you will get output similar to this:

dd: reading `/dev/dvd': Input/output error
572352+0 records in
572352+0 records out
293044224 bytes (293 MB) copied, 145.3 s, 2.0 MB/s

Next step, try using gddrescue. Once installed, you can use this command that will hopefully copy the data from the DVD using a technique that was originally designed for rescuing data from failing or corrupted hard disks:

ddrescue -d /dev/dvd ~/dvd_backup.iso ~/dvd_backup.log

This may work (it has done in the past for me) but it also may fail (which it did this time for me).

If all of these methods are exhausted, it seems unlikely that you will be able to create an ISO file, but you can rip the DVD using various software (I recommend VLC for this). This isn't ideal but is your only option (that I know) left once you have tried all the other options.

  • 3
    dvdisaster -j 16 -r has never failed me, but it does not retrieve the descrambling keys. That has to be done separately before copying/backup. (I use vobcopy, but there are probably better alternatives.) If the disc is badly damaged, or manufactured really sloppily, and time is short, the value 16 (number of sectors to skip at a read error) can be increased. In my experience 512 is a good compromise.
    – taneli
    Aug 16 '11 at 19:53
  • @taneli: thx, dvdisaster was the solution for me
    – Regisz
    Nov 7 '13 at 6:33
  • Install acetoneiso

  • After installation you can find it under Applications>>Sound & Video>>AcetoneISO

  • Using it you can generate iso image from CD/DVD/Folder.

  • Also you can mount/umount iso images.

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Use brasero and save the dvd as an iso copy. You can then use vlc or totem to play the iso back later.


I would use dv3500ea's method with a few changes.

First, if it is an encrypted DVD (almost all commercial ones are), and it is legal where you live (or you just don't care), install libdvdcss2 from medibuntu.

Simply insert the DVD, right click on the desktop icon that appears and click 'Copy Disk...'.

alt text

Then choose to output to an image file. Use the properties button to select where the .iso file will be saved and what it will be named.

alt text

You can then play the ISO with full menus using VLC install VLC or mount it and use it as if you had inserted the DVD into the drive.


This worked for me: Using VLC and after going to: Media -> Open Disk... -> Browse root folder of the dvd (typically VIDEO_TS) Subtitles, audio...all working

Which totem (Ubuntu video player by default) I couldn't use the DVD menu.

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