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I'm backing up my DVD movie collection in a portable HDD, both to have a better access to them, and preserve it over time (I've experienced some problems when reading some of them, luckily after cleaning them with a mixture of water and alcohol they were readable again; anyway, I don't want to find myself with them being just some useless plastic discs inside a nice case, so that's why I'm backing 'em up).

I use Linux, and I have found a nearly perfect solution with Handbrake: by using a combination of the .mkv container and H264/ac3 video/audio encoding and playing around with the many settings that this program offers, I can produce files with multiple audio and subtitle tracks, with a video quality that for all practical purposes is indistinguishable from the DVD source, and with a pretty decent file size (usually less than 1 GB per hour of film, depending on the movie).
This is a perfect solution and work in 99% of the cases: I use it both for the main movies and for the extras, I have to sacrifice the menus but usually they are not really important.

Then there are those movies with a wealth of extra contents and features (if you have the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you know what I mean).
With those DVD's, converting just the movies (both the main and the extra features) is not sufficient, they contain image galleries and interactive content, so backing up the whole DVD with the menu structure is really a must.

The problem is that Handbrake can't handle all of this, it can just take care of the movies. I'm aware that I could just make an 1/1 copy on a .iso file, but I'd also like to save space if possible; using the afore-mentioned LotR Trilogy as an example, with about 7 or 8 GB per DVD and an amount of 12 DVD, I could really use some kind of space saving measures. I've tried to use a tool like K9Copy, and it can effectively reduce the size of the output .iso file, but in this case I have a noticeable loss of quality: I suspect that it is because a DVD can just contain movies encoded with the less efficient MPEG-2 codec and not with H264, am I right?

Summarizing, I'm looking for a solution to backup my DVDs that should respect three requirements:

  • keeping all the menus structure to easily navigate the bonus contents;
  • a quality more or less equal to what the H264 codec could offer (we are talking about bonus features and menus, so a little noticeable quality loss is acceptable);
  • the total filesize should be inferior to the filesize of the source DVD.

I'm not really interested to obtaining something that could be re-burned to a DVD (I.E. from a DVD9 to a DVD5), the output should be readable from a computer only, any output format will do as long as it is readable from the likes of VLC and XBMC.

How can I perform this task? Like I said, I'm mainly interested to work under Linux, but even a Windows solution will do.

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K9Copy (well, now it seems K9Copy-Reloaded : http://k9copy-reloaded.sourceforge.net/index.html#Overview) should let you get started down the path, like you'd mentioned... What you're looking for is usage of FFmpeg and it's capabilities alongside K9C-R. FFmpeg let's you set up MANY options, and Yup, you'd want to use H264 if you find that working well with your setup otherwise. Some problems with why you might not have found this is that there are plenty of setups that avoid H264 due to patent issues. Divx might be an option simply because the install of burning codecs is straight forward.

https://www.ffmpeg.org/general.html#External-libraries has plenty of info on support, and you'll have to make sure that your running the right ffmpeg versions by K9C-R

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