How to Copy a DVD to an External Hard Drive

Updated April 17, 2017

It is always a good idea to back up any media you have, and, as technology has got more advanced, now you can back up your DVD movies and store them all on an external hard drive. This process will require you to download specific software for ripping and compressing the movie files, but all suggested software is totally free. With these programs, backing up and storing your DVDs is fast and easy.

Open your DVD ripping program. recommends using "DVD Rip" in conjecture with "DVD Shrink" to compress the file. There are other free programs available, such as "RipIt4Me" and "DVDFab Decrypter" for the ripping, and "HandBrake" for compressing the files after they are ripped.

Insert the DVD you wish to rip, and follow your DVD ripping software's on-screen instructions. If no instructions appear, try restarting the program with the DVD inserted, and then click "Rip" or something similar.

Open your DVD compressing software and follow the on-screen instructions to compress the file. The smaller the file, the lower the quality will be, so keep that in mind when choosing how small you want the file to be. Usually, around 1GB is a good balance between quality and size.

Plug your external hard drive in and turn on the power. Navigate to "My Computer" and then look for your external hard drive before opening it. Navigate to wherever you would like to put your newly ripped DVD files.

Open the folder your DVD compressing software placed the compressed files in. Drag and drop all of the folders and files you wish to transfer over to the external hard drive, which should be open in another window. After they have finished copying to the device, you can delete them from your hard drive. Before doing so, double-check to make sure the files are on the external hard drive.


You may want to download additional software to allow you to convert the files into other formats your media players can read, such as DivX or AVI format. You may also download VLC Media Player and a plug-in called DVD Play that will allow you to play your DVDs in their original format with menus intact. If the software you're using is confusing, try looking at the menus for "Help" sections or even on the Internet.

Things You'll Need

  • DVD
  • Computer with DVD drive
  • DVD ripping and compressing software
  • External hard drive with proper connection for your computer
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About the Author

Matt Koble has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on websites such as DoItYourself. Koble mostly writes about technology, electronics and computer topics.