Whether you want to watch a movie on your iPod or back up your too-easily-scratched DVDs, DVD ripping is a mysterious realm for many. Even those in-the-know find it difficult to keep up with the best tools for the job, especially in the face of increased copy protection. On Tuesday we asked you to share your favourite DVD ripping tools; today we've sifted through hundreds of comments to bring you the five most popular answers. Hit the jump for a closer look at five of the best and most popular DVD ripping tools, then cast your vote to determine the best ripper of the bunch.
DVD Shrink (Windows)
Despite the fact that the freeware DVD Shrink (download) hasn't been in active development for years, this freeware decrypter, ripper, and compressor is still a favourite all-in-one stop for ripping and backing up DVDs. Its compression feature is what sets DVD Shrink apart, compressing 8GB dual-layer DVDs down to 4GB sizes that will fit on standard, single-layer DVD-Rs (i.e., the type of DVDs most consumers can burn to). It's even inspired us to write our very own DVD Shrink helper application, DVD Rip, which turns the already simple DVD Shrink process into a one-click ripping affair.
HandBrake (All Platforms)
The free, cross-platform HandBrake makes ripping DVDs to a bevy of useful, playable file formats a cinch, with support for iPods, PSPs, Apple TVs, PS3s, and pretty much any other format your device requires. It's fast, free, and takes the difficulty out of both ripping and transcoding. (original post)
DVDFab HD Decrypter
Much like DVD Shrink, DVDFab HD Decrypter cuts through copy protection and rips DVDs to your hard drive. Unlike DVD Shrink, DVDFab does not offer compression tools. DVDFab is shareware, but its trial version lets you do nearly as much as you'd ever need. That said, users who pony up for the platinum edition don't seem to have any regrets. (original post)
MacTheRipper (Mac OS X)
Freeware application MacTheRipper breaks copy protection from DVDs and rips the contents to your hard drive—which makes it the go-to Mac version of apps like DVD Shrink or DVDFab. Like the other two, MacTheRipper doesn't encode its rips to other formats (instead it just rips the DVD menu and all to your hard drive), but that's what Handbrake is there for.
The freeware DVD Decrypter works much like DVD Shrink and DVDFab, ripping DVDs to your hard drive by tearing through pesky copy protection. Like DVD Shrink, DVD Decrypter hasn't been actively developed for a while, but it's still doing the job for most folks without complaint.
Now that we've seen the five most popular, it's time to narrow it down to choose your ultimate favorite:
This week's honorable mentions go out to AnyDVD (Windows, shareware) and DVD43 (freeware, Windows, original post). I want to put a special word in for both of these, particularly DVD43 since it's freeware. Whenever popular ripping tools like DVD Shrink, HandBrake, DVDFab, or DVD Decrypter fail to break the copy protection, these lightweight tools are a must-have. They run in the background and disable copy protection as soon as the DVD is inserted, leaving any ripping tool free to grab the contents without having to deal with decryption at all.
My third honorable mention is a shameless plug for the free, Windows-only DVD Rip, Lifehacker's very own helper application that works in conjunction with DVD Shrink to set up automated one-click rips. DVD Shrink does all the heavy lifting, but DVD Shrink makes it simple enough that the entirely tech unsavvy should have no problems ripping a DVD.
Last, if you'd like a more detailed look at how you might put these programs to use, check out our previous guide to turning your PC into a DVD ripping monster.
If your favourite didn't make the list or you want to lavish more praise on your app of choice, let's hear your thoughts in the comments.