While DVDs are relatively small, if you have a large library like I do, it can quickly consume a lot of space. So, I decided to put my entire DVD collection on my home network and get rid of the DVDs altogether. This was a relatively simple process even though it was fairly time consuming. But, in the end, I ended up with a complete set of all my movies which I could watch on demand (read, “I can change disks without getting off the couch!”) that fit nicely on a small home NAS.
Software You Need
I used two pieces of software to put my DVDs on my computer and shrink them down to a size that is useable:
- RipIt4Me - used to make a copy of the DVD to your computer’s hard drive.
- Handbrake - shrinks the movie down to a manageable size. DVDs can use up to 8 GB of disk space. Handbrake will shrink a typical 2 hour movie down to about 750 MB (a saving of about 90%!)
Hardware You May Want
In order to make things truly “on-demand”, you will want a few pieces of hardware. Technically, these are not needed as you could easily store all of your movies on your hard drive and watch them on your computer but it is way better to be able to sit on your couch and watch your movies with nothing more than a remote.
Here is what I have set up:
- Home network (’nuff said!)
- NAS - a home made FreeNAS server fits the bill perfectly as it is easy to set up and lets you use some of your old hardware. When you are building your NAS, make sure that you estimate the correct amount of disk space by multiplying the number of movies you have by 750 MB. If you want to make sure you never lose you movies, double your hard disk space and put in a RAID configuration
- Networked multimedia player - this can be a home made DIY setup such as MythTV or Freevo, or a full blown stand alone device such as the Archos 705 WiFi or the TViX HD M-5100 SH (I have both of these devices and they just rock!)
What To Do
I’m assuming that most of the readers are relatively technical so I’m not going to go into extreme details as to how to do every little step of the process. If there is enough interest, I might create some step by step tutorials at a later date. For now, here are the basic steps:
- Using RipIt4Me, rip a DVD to your hard drive. You will only need the actual movie, not all of the movies and menus. Make sure that you have enough disk space because this can take up as much as 8GB on your drive.
- Use Handbrake to now convert the ripped DVD to an Xvid encoded single file. This should reduce the movie size down significantly (about 750 MB). Do not be alarmed if this takes some time to do. It could easily take over an hour to encode the file.
- Move the movie file to your NAS.
- Delete the movie files on your hard drive that were created by RipIt4Me and Handbrake (you will need the space later).
- Point your multimedia player hardware at your NAS. How you do this will vary depending on hardware.
- Enjoy the show!