Articles General A complete guide to using DVD Decrypter
A complete guide to using DVD Decrypter

Everything you need to know about using DVD Decrypter to rip DVDS to your computer.

Most DVD movies are protected by an encryption scheme known as Content Scrambling System, or CSS. This encryption makes large sections of a DVD movie unplayable without the correct decryption key, which is included on a protected DVD. Standalone DVD players have simple onboard software (firmware) that, using a set of decryption rules together with the decryption key supplied by the disk, know how to instruct the DVD player to unscramble the video stream on-the-fly. By design, computer DVD burners are unable to copy files or a “disk image” from a DVD to hard drive, and unable to make a 1-to-1 duplicate DVD.

However, your computer is a very powerful machine - a standalone DVD player is a toy by comparison. Unlike a DVD player, most PCs lack hardware designed specifically for the task, but a modern PC is powerful enough to be able to use software to interface directly with the DVD, emulating the function of a DVD player by decrypting the contents, de-scrambling the video stream, and rendering it on your computer monitor. We call this sort of program a Software DVD Player.

As mentioned, it is not possible to copy the contents of a CSS-protected DVD to your hard drive in the normal fashion. A software player is fine if you simply want to watch a DVD movie on your PC, but it won't help you copy a DVD. Software designed to pull the decrypted contents of a DVD movie off of the disk and save it - in tact and permanently decrypted - is known as DVD ripping software. Among the best of the free software is DVD Decrypter. Other DVD Ripping software can be found here .

Setting up DVD Decrypter

While the program itself is tiny, a DVD movie usually weighs in anywhere between 4 and 8 GB of data. Even with the massive hard drives that ship with modern PCs, this is a pretty large chunk of data by any measure. To successfully rip DVDs, you're going to need a minimum of 8.5 GB of free hard drive space (on a single drive). Ideally, you want anywhere over 12 GB free to work comfortably.

The default installation options are fine. Note that it doesn't matter where you install the program itself, just as long as you have a drive with adequate free space to put your working directory and at least one ripped DVD.

Before you run DVD Decrypter, put a DVD-ROM in your DVD burner. If Windows automatically opens a player or explorer window, close that for now. Upon starting DVD Decrypter, you should see something similar to this. There is a lot of information there, but fortunately, there's only a few key things you need to pay particular attention to.

  1. Source Drive: This is the DVD burner or drive. If you have more than one optical disk drive, make sure you select the one the DVD-ROM is in. In the example above, that happens to be the J: Drive.
  2. Disk Information: DVD Decrypter is able to display all the data it can discover from the inserted disk. For the most part, you don't need to worry about it too much. By all means, have a look through the information. There is a lot to know about this subject beyond the bare minimum required to rip a DVD, and it never hurts to learn more. Note that the inserted disk is a Dual-Layer DVD9, containing about 7.5 GB of data.
  3. Volume Label: Fairly self explanatory. If you're ripping lots of DVDs, it helps to pay attention. There's few things worse than later dubbing the wrong sound track to a video because you didn't read the name!
  4. Regions: In our example, the DVD is encoded for Regions 2 and 4, meaning it will play in most of Europe and the Southern Hemisphere (except Africa). It does not have RCE protection (designed to foil region-free players).
  5. Protection: The disk is indeed protected with CSS. Some disks may have no encryption, depending usually on the studio or publisher. All major Hollywood studios use CSS for most of their releases.
  6. Destination: Select where you want DVD Decrypter to rip to by clicking on the explorer icon. Note that it will not create those directories (folders) by default. It's a good idea to create a working directory (eg: H:\DVD Project\) on a large drive, and any sub-directories as needed.
  7. Free Space: DVD rips require a lot of space! Simply burning a ripped disk is not a trivial matter (See our guide on DVD Shrink.) so double-check that you'll have enough room to play with. Anything over 12 GB is more than adequate. In the example, H: is a 372 GB drive with over 100 GB free: Should be enough.
  8. DVD Decrypter log: Pay attention to this panel, as it provides a great deal of useful information. DVD Decrypter tells you everything it's doing, and while most rips pose no problem, not every one goes according to plan, so if it doesn't, chances are you can find which step it failed on, and work around it.

    In the example above, Decrypter starts, notes the Operating System, then polls for optical devices, successfully finding a DVD burner (DVD-RAM/±RW). Upon success, it checks the drive for a DVD, which it finds. Note the final three alerts: To make the system difficult to circumvent, not every disk is encrypted the same way. They mix things up a bit to fool crackers and software like DVD Decrypter. The disk in the drive has a slightly odd structure, which the program fortunately recognises and circumvents, all in the space of a second.

Ripping a movie DVD

While it has a huge number of more advanced features, all of them quite useful, using DVD Decrypter for your basic movie is really quite simple. Once you're happy with your settings (Default settings are fine for most disks), Go up to the Mode menu, and make sure it is set to File Mode. Then, simply click the big button with the green arrow. Assuming all goes well, a full DVD should rip to your specified destination directory in around fifteen minutes, depending on the disk, your DVD drive, and your computer's CPU speed.

Once DVD Decrypter reports completion, browse to wherever you ripped the disk to. You'll see a number of files named something like VTS_01_0. There's three types of file there. .IFO files contain instructions for DVD players on how to address chapters and menu functions. The .BUP files are simply BackUPs of the .IFOs, giving a DVD a degree of fault-tolerance should it get slightly scratched or damaged. Finally, the VOB files are Video OBject containers, a maximum of 1 GB in size. You should be able to play any of the VOBs in any media player software you have installed, not necessarily a software DVD player. The files on your hard drive are now decrypted and have all region restrictions removed. Should you choose to play the smaller files, you'll notice that there's short videos for the DVD menu backgrounds, special features, and copyright notices. The larger files are your movie.

If you wish to perform more advanced tasks like ripping a movie with one of the alternate sound tracks (where applicable), include subtitles, or rip specific chapters only, select IFO Mode instead of File Mode.


Make sure the correct track is selected in the Input tab. It will automatically select the longest track, which is usually correct in the case of a movie. The very short tracks are usually menus, copyright notices, and special features. Specific chapters can be de-selected in the lower-left field.

Switch to the Stream Processing tab and check the Enable Stream Processing box if you wish to specifically choose an audio or subtitle stream that isn't the default for that movie.


Exactly which this is will differ for every movie, so no specific instructions can be given. If the stream you're after isn't clearly marked, it may take a little trial and error to get right.

Once you're happy with your selection, click the big button with the green arrow to rip to your specified location on hard drive. From here, you may choose to do any of a number of things. If you want to burn a copy of the DVD, see our guide on DVD shrink. You might instead wish to transcode the DVD to a more space-efficient format, which is a considerably more involved process.

More related resources about DVD Burning:

Useful DVD Burning Articles
DVD Burning Guides
DVD Burning Software Reviews


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