Is It Possible to Rip Copy-protected DVDs with Handbrake

While the world has clearly moved on to Full HD and 4K, 8K video, many of us still have massive DVD collections and would like to make this content available digitally so that it can be enjoyed on mobile devices and streamed to screens around the home via Plex or similar solutions. So here’s how we can rip DVD movies and TV shows using freeware like Handbake.


A DVD drive attached to your PC (obviously). A utility that can recognize the videos found on a DVD and “rip” (copy) them into popular video formats like H.264/MP4, and a decryption utility that can remove the copy protection found on commercial DVD discs, a “fair use” practice that I feel is legal (in the US) for personal use cases.

I use and recommend Handbrake for ripping DVDs. The software is free, easy to use, and infinitely configurable if you want to over-think it.

The problem is that Handbrake cannot decrypt copy-protected DVDs Fortunately, there is a free decryption solution called libdvdcss. You can download the latest version of this standalone DLL file from the VideoLAN web site; just copy it into the Handbrake directory (C:\Program Files\Handbrake by default) and you should be good to go. I’ve tried this solution with a few recent DVDs and it’s worked well.

Tutorial: Ripping DVD to H.264/H.265 MP4 using Handbrake

Your needs may vary, but I find that the stock “Universal” preset works well for DVD movies and TV shows. This will provide a reasonably-sized, reasonable quality version of the video(s) in a form that works and looks great on all modern devices, including Windows PCs and tablets and Windows Phones. And they stream nicely from my home server to the Roku or Amazon Fire TV using Plex too.

Ripping a DVD movie is straightforward: You select Source and then the disc, and after Handbrake has analyzed the disc, you can examine the videos in the Title drop-down. Generally speaking, the movie you want is the longest of the available videos.

If you want captions/subtitles, use the Subtitles tab to examine what’s available. Possibilities range from nothing (increasingly uncommon) to hard-coded “VobSub”-type subtitles and “soft captions” which can be enabled and disabled on the fly by most common video players these days. This may require a bit of experimentation.

If you’re just ripping the one video, click Start and Handbrake will do its thing.

TV shows are a bit more complicated. Each disc typically has multiple shows, so you will need to select each in the Titles drop-down in turn, make whatever configuration changes (like captions/subtitles) and then click Add to Queue to add that show to the ripping queue. And then repeat for each episode. (The Downton Abbey DVDs complicated matters further: In addition to three hour-long episodes per disc, there is a first title video that is all three episodes in one file. So I skip that one.)

When you’re ready to rip, you should display the Queue window and then click Start from there. Each video on the disc will rip in turn.

I don’t usually mess around with the file names until after ripping is done, and then I copy or move the file(s) to my home server or perhaps to a device. I use logical enough names—”Downton Abbey 0501″ for an episode of that show, for example, or the name of the movie—so the content is easily identifiable later.

FAQs about Ripping DVD with HandBrake

1. How to rip a DVD with multiple episodes (TV series DVD) in HandBrake?

When you want to rip a multi-episode DVD with HandBrake, you can add multiple or all episodes at the same time using the Add to queue feature.

2. How to rip copy-protected DVD with HandBrake?

You can install libdvdcss to help HandBrake decrypt and rip drmed DVD.

3. How to rip DVD with HandBrake on Windows 10/8/7?

Simply follow our detailed guide above to rip a DVD using HandBrake on PC.

4. How to rip a DVD with HandBrake on Mac (macOS Big Sur, Catalina, High Sierra…)?

Just follow the same steps as you use HandBrake to rip DVD on Windows: download and install HandBrake Mac version -> choose title -> choose output format -> select destination folder -> start encoding DVD on Mac.

5. How to rip DVD with subtitles on HandBrake?

HandBrake has a Subtitles tab where you can select desired subtitle track, closed caption, and import external subtitle.

6. How to rip DVD with 5.1 surround sound on HandBrake?

Go to Audio tab in HandBrake, and choose an audio track tagged with 5.1 ch.

7. How long does it take to rip a DVD with HandBrake?

Handbrake DVD rip time depends on the size of your DVD, the performance of your computer CPU and GPU, and your preferences and choice of settings in HandBrake. It could be tens of minutes to a few hours.

Best Handbrake Alternative for Solve Handbrake Won’t Rip a DVD

With libdvdcss installed, you can rip DVD movies with Handbrake in most cases, but there are still many cases you failed to rip and backup DVDs with Handbrake. In fact, there are many reasons that you cannot rip DVD using Handbrake. It may be caused by the DVD corruption or damaging; or strictly DVD copy protection (like Disney DVDs, Lionsgate movies, Beachbody workout DVDs, or BBC DVDs); or overloaded CPU; or unsupported subtitles and so on.

 And the best way to fix them could be trying a HandBrake alternative like DumboFab DVD Ripper. This software supports nearly any DVD copy protection schemes, like general CSS mechanism, Disney X-project DRM on Windows and Mac.

What’s more, the alternative to HandBrake has the advantages not only in wide range of supported DVDs, but also in more well-configured output presets, more output file formats, super fast speed, high output quality, intuitive interface and more.

Note: In the event this isn’t patently obvious, I am not advocating that anyone steal content, let alone distribute or share it. And I do not do so personally: I’ve purchased all of the DVDs I’ve ripped, and they’re still here at home stored in the basement next to my CD collection, in boxes.

Author: Chris Gu

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