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New DVD backup method

I just cannot say enough about the community over at the Green Button. Everyday I find some great information there that will help me build the best MediaCenter experience for me and my family. Today it may have been an answer to my DVD backup needs.

One feature that I have been researching for awhile now in building the MediaCenter is DVD backup. I have been planning on using MyMovies plugin to access and organize the movie collection but I have gone back and forth on how I would get the movies off the disc and onto my hard drive.

Last night I sat down and cataloged all of my DVDs in a Google Docs Spreadsheet. I came up with a list of 290 DVDs. I ranked all of the movies on a tiered system to help me prioritize the order in which I ripped the movies and added them to my MediaCenter “always available” movie collection. The priority starts with tier 1 and works down to tier 4.

The method that I had been planning on using was the “Fast No Convert” method. This was the easy method to date and worked great with MediaCenter since it was MediaCenter specific. The steps are as follows:
1) Rip main movie with DVD Decrypter into single VOB file (1 click after initial setup)
2) Use VideoRedo to put the mpg file inside the VOB into a DVR-MS container (2 clicks)
3) Add DVR-MS file to MyMovies collection

It doesn’t get any easier than that. The only drawback is the file size. I did a quick estimate on hard drive space need to fit all 290 movies. If I did an average file size of 5GB per movie then I would need 1.4 Terabytes worth of storage for everything. Wow! I will have that kind of space by the end of the year when I get my Windows Home Server but I’m not there yet. That’s also a lot of space for what I have now. I’m not going to stop buying DVDs.

Now I have two options to deal with this. The first is to cut down the list of DVDs that I rip. Do I really need every DVD that I own to be available at the press of button? Of course not and I plan to revisit my list and trim it down.

The second option is to find another backup solution. I previously had a plan to convert all my movies to XVID. I found a great guide that even though it was a number of steps it produced great looking backups with 5.1 audio at half the file size. The only drawback here is that while the XVID codec is supported directly on my Xbox 360 these days, it is not supported when I use it as a Media Center Extender. The new version 2 extenders that have just been released do support DIVX/XVID so I am hoping that the Xbox 360 will be updated to match their capabilities. Unfortunately we are not there yet and I would prefer to no use Transcode 360 due to the FF/RW limitations.

Today I may have stumbled upon another backup method that I may be able to use. The new method is a one-click batch job that uses a number of applications to produce a WMV file with 5.1 audio. This has the added benefit of being compatible in more ways than the XVID method and it seems to have the file size that I am looking for.

I am going to test out the new method now and will post later on the results.

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