Moving, needing cash, running out of storage space—they’re all great reasons to consider backing up and ditching your physical. Here are our recommended methods of saving, selling and trading your CDs, DVDs and video games.
Photo by mutednarayan.
What format should you back up to? We can’t tell the future, nor do we know how much of an audiophile you are. The safest bet is to go with a lossless compression method, which doesn’t compress audio information for file size, and so has a better likelihood of being rescued and re-converted if a new format takes over from MP3. Both iTunes and Windows Media Player offer their own lossless formats to convert to in their settings.
The free, open-source alternative is to convert to FLAC, which, while popular among serious music fans and the open-source community, isn’t quite a readily-playable format on MP3 players and devices. You can convert audio CD tracks to FLAC, or most any other audio format, using the free VLC Media Player.
If you do decide to stick with MP3s for your conversion, aim for a higher bitrate—perhaps 256 kbit/s. Some notice audio “artefacts” on files compressed at 192 kbit/s and lower. On most modern hard drives, a library full of MP3s encoded at the 256 rate can readily be fit.
If mailing out your old wares disc by disc isn’t all that appealing, we propose a fun alternative—host an Old CD Party. Email a bunch of nearby friends whose tastes in music aren’t completely appalling, buy some snacks and drinks, and invite everyone to spread their CD collections in personal piles on your floor, just like the baseball card trades of yore. Swap albums, negotiate two-for-one deals, and laugh about what a sullen, sappy, or seriously goofy person you used to be. It’s a lot more fun than getting 50 cents for your Throwing Copper disc(s).
For any computer, we also recommend the powerful, popular and reliable Handbrake, which offers a bevy of helpful presets for all your devices and screens. The VLC Player itself can also help you rip DVDs, while Mac users can still grab the last free copy of Mac the Ripper for a pretty easy solution. DVD spines photo by ToastyKen.
Selling and trading: As with CDs, DVDs see a drastic reduction in value once they leave their plastic wrap, but videos are even more generally low-priced than their audio brethren. If you’re not up for checking for no-seller-fee periods on eBay, I’ve found the best bet is selling in a garage sale or other face-to-face opportunity. Price your discs accordingly—hit up eBay, find the price for used discs, and go down from there.
If you’re a PC gamer, some of your older games can likely be copied whole cloth onto blank discs, and any of our Hive Five CD and DVD burning tools can get the job done. Some can’t, or won’t work on installation, because of proprietary copy protection systems. In general, though, most games rely on a serial number to authenticate a game, so keep those backed up somewhere you can’t lose them, like a code-named email to yourself, or on paper you won’t likely lose.
Selling and trading: There’s regular trade-in deals to be had at games retailers, though the margin of return isn’t great. Other than that, the same principles apply (you can try eBay or a garage sale, and rarity counts big).
What tools and techniques have you used to free yourself of unnecessary plastic platters? Where have you found the best deals, and what was the easiest backup method you found? Tell us your tips in the comments.