Ditching your DVDs for a Better Home Theater Experience

Recently a number of people have been asking me about what I did with my collection of 240+ DVDs. I still have them, but they’re packed away in storage. Last year I set out on a quest to digitally rip every movie we owned so that we could easily watch them on any of our devices in any room of our home.

I’ve already blogged about the streaming part of my setup, we steam movies using Drobo FS and Media Tomb (note that if you buy a newer Drobo, like a Drobo 5N, you can instead use a much slicker app named Plex).

As for the ripping and cataloging of our discs, my good friend Terry White laid the foundation by documenting his entire DVD to MP4 conversion process. The punchline, quite simply, is to use Handbrake for OSX and select the “Universal” preset.

That’s pretty much it. Rip via Handbrake, store on any device of your choosing. If you put them on a network-attached storage unit (NAS) you gain the benefit of having them always accessible anywhere on your home network. If you use a device like Drobo you gain the additional benefit of automatic redundant backups (so if a drive fails you’re not completely hosed).

What about file size?

Across our movies, the average file size is 1.5GB. This means that our entire DVD collection clocks in at ~375GB. Not bad.

Hope this helps!