How-To Rip Your CDs and DVDs to Your Computer

how-to-rip-cds-dvds-to-computer-RV-life

If you have a big CD or DVD library, you might be irritated by how much physical space your collection can take up – never mind the added weight and difficulty of accessing individual discs while on the road.

One solution to this problem is to ‘rip’ the discs to a computer’s hard drive (or SSD) or to a flash drive. Ripping means taking all the data on the disc that’s used to play it in the first place and converting it into a digital file which can be played by a normal media player, like iTunes or VLC.

I have to warn you that it’s illegal to sell, give-away or otherwise distribute these files. As long as you own the disc, however, you may play the resulting files, make playlists, and let friends watch or listen.

Now that I know you won’t accidentally do something to violate copyright law, here are a few different programs that can rip CDs or DVDs:

  • HandBrake, for OS X/macOS, Linux, and Windows: rips any track on a DVD or BluRay to a number of formats. Has a useful queuing feature for shows.
  • iTunes, for OS X/macOS and Windows: Among its other multimedia features, can rip CDs to its internal format, and export them to a number of other formats.
  • VLC, for OS X/macOS, Linux, and Windows: In addition to acting as a general-purpose media player, it is capable of ripping both DVDs and CDs via its menu option Media->Convert/Save.
  • Rhythmbox, for Linux (GNOME specifically): Acts as a general multimedia tool (similar to iTunes in a number of ways); can rip CDs to MP3 format and export them.

Personally, I’d recommend HandBrake for DVDs and VLC for CDs, but if you have one of the others, they’ll automatically import the ripped files into their ‘library’ allowing you to group them by album, artist, genre, tags, etc., and to make playlists. Some things you can do with your newly ripped music/movies include:

  • Make a playlist of songs from lots of different albums.
  • Have a movie night with friends without messing with discs.
  • Listen to music all day while you work.
  • Put them on a flash drive and take them with you to work or in the car.

If you have a recent laptop, you may not even have an internal CD/DVD drive, but you can purchase a USB-powered drive to rip your discs for about $20.

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