Hey DVD-Rippers, the updated version of this article is located here. Happy ripping!

VLC Media Player is one of the most versatile media players ever. What it lacks in looks, it more than makes up for in functionality. It can read and save all the major formats of video and audio, and much more than that, it can rip DVDs. This is a pretty simple process, if you know what you&#re doing. Plus, it saves you having to buy expensive DVD ripping software!

The first step is to open up VLC and click the open button (it’s the leftmost one). From the dialog box that appears select Disc and then DVD. Enter the letter of your DVD-ROM drive in the device name box, and “0” in the title box. Click OK to see if that’s what you want to rip. If it is, click the stream/save box and then settings. Otherwise, change the title to “1” and then keep increasing the number until you find the one you want. It might take a little bit, some DVDs have the main video as late as title 15.

Once you’ve got the right video though, open the settings box and uncheck the “play locally” box if it’s checked (unless you want to watch it at the same time it’s ripping) and check the file, video, and audio boxes. Select where you’re going to save your movie (save it as a .mpg, like movie.mpg) by hitting browse and then navigating to the folder where you want to save it and typing moviename.mpg in the name box. Select mp1v for the video codec and mp3 for the audio; 1024k is usually a good size and produces a nice balance between size and quality.

Click OK, and OK again. VLC should start transcoding the disc to your hard drive, where you can watch it. As a bit of a warning, when you want to watch the file with VLC, be absolutely sure that the stream/save box is unchecked in the open dialog box, or bad things might happen. Like your two hours of transcoding being erased (guilty!). You can watch the ripped files in any media player though.

Disclaimer: Because of the DMCA, it’s illegal for you to rip a DVD that has CSS (a form of DRM) on it. I’m no lawyer, but I think it should be fair use to do it. This being a democracy though, my opinons don’t matter, so yeah. Don’t hold me responsible if the MPAA comes knocking at your door. That said though, there’s a lot of DVDs that don’t have content protection, those should be perfectly legal to rip.