Rip Your Commercial DVDs With Free MakeMKV Beta

imageCDs and DVDs are not indestructible – they seem to attract scratches, cracks and sticky fingers – at least around here. As a result, I’ve developed the habit of backing-up my DVDs by ripping them to a Hard Drive – and often, to additional storage devices. This, despite the fact that it’s generally prohibited by laws that protect the “Greed Is Us”  entertainment industry. An industry which has been slow to react to changing technologies.

As I see it – it’s my Disc – I paid for it. If I buy something, it becomes mine. As for the law – I don’t give a rat’s ass what this particular law says. I will not be coerced by a government that holds a clumsy club over my head to protect an industry which continually shows little regard for the paying customer.

Since the majority of commercial DVDs are protected by a digital lock – CSS, CPRM, or AACS – should you decide, that it’s appropriate to safeguard your investment in commercial media – you’ll need a format converter capable of decrypting, and preserving, the media content.

MakeMKV is the best one-click free solution to convert owned video that I’ve found, to date. This is a very impressive application – straightforward, and easy to run –  even for a relatively new computer user.

A quick walkthrough:

For this post, I’ve chosen to backup one Disc from my collection of the HBO series – The Pacific – a 10 part series which cost me $90 – including tax. So yes, given the cost involved, I feel more than justified in protecting my investment.

Any of the following screen captures can be expanded to the original, by clicking.

On application launch, you’ll see the following. Be sure to expand the menu from which you’ll have an opportunity to select a variety of customizing options. Then click on “Make MKV” and……


sit back and relax.


Converting video is time intensive and your CPU will get a real workout. In this test, the job took approximately 30 minutes to complete.


The following screen shot shows the save location, and the relative sizes of the files. The first title – “00” represents the first episode. Similarly, the second title “01” represents the second episode from the DVD. Title “02” represents both episodes combined. Additional content from the DVD is also noted.


Finally, I’ve included the following screen captures in order to give you an idea of the just how perfectly MakeMKV has completed the task. BTW, VLC Media Player is my preferred application for running media on a PC. It is an outstanding application which offers a huge range of control functions. For example – if, I had forgotten to uncheck “Subtitles” while processing this test task – no big deal. VLC Media Player provides an option to “not show” subtitles while running.

Running in a Window.





Running in full screen


MKV File Format Fast Facts:

MKV is open and free. No one holds patents or licenses and anyone can implement it freely. As a result nearly every software player and many hardware devices support it. The best software players out there ( VLC, MPlayer ) have full MKV support and are absolutely free.

MKV files do not have evil features attached.

You can play them on any capable hardware. No need for HDCP-certified video card or any “trusted” environment.

You can copy them to your laptop and watch anytime, even if your laptop lacks DVD or Blu-ray drive, or any drive whatsoever.

One file is one title. If you don’t want to watch dozen trailers before the movie, you don’t have to. And fast forward button always works, too.

There are no restrictions where to play the file. There are no region-based restrictions. You have control over the content you’ve paid for.

MKV files are easy to change. Want to remove unneeded audio track from the file? Thought about converting MPEG-2 video into H264 to make the file 5 times smaller? All of it can be easily done with free software.

MKV files are compact. For exactly the same content MKV files are about 10% smaller than DVD files and roughly 40% smaller than Blu-ray files.

System requirements: Windows Vista, XP, Win 7 (tested here on Win 8), Intel-based Mac OS X 10.5 and above, and Linux.

Download at: MakeMKV

Restrictions you need to know:

Program is time-limited — it will stop functioning after 60 days. You can always download the latest version from that will reset the expiration date.

MakeMKV is currently still in beta and during the beta phase it will rip both DVD and Blu-ray for free. However, the DVD ripping functionality will always remain free.

After 30 days if you want to continue ripping Blu-ray discs, you’ll need to purchase a license.

HD-DVD support is limited – some discs may fail to open and not all audio and subtitle tracks will be preserved.

Blu-ray and DVD discs are fully supported.


Filed under Beta Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Linux, Mac OS X

6 responses to “Rip Your Commercial DVDs With Free MakeMKV Beta

  1. Bill,
    Should you not backup your DVD and it become damaged, surely the Motion Picture Industry would give you another…heh,heh,heh. I say bravo for taking the initiative to protect your investment.

  2. George Downing

    Hello Bill: My first post on your site. I can relate to your desire to archive your DVDs, using MakeMKV. In my case, however, it’s a desire to archive a set of VCR tapes of the popular 1950s series–Victory at Sea (cost about $150), But, the built-in security measure stops one from copying to DVDs. At least, I have found no way to do it. If you or others know how to get around this problem, I’d like to hear a solution. VCR tapes won’t last forever, and the equimpent to play them will, surely, one day be obsolete.

    • Hi George,

      My apologies for the late response.

      I remember Victory at Sea very well – viewed it any number of times on History, PBS, and elsewhere – terrific series. I can well understand your desire to transfer over to DVDs.

      But, to your inquiry – I have no answer for you at the moment. However, I’ve put the word out in my tech community and, I expect we’ll have an appropriate answer in short order.

      I’ll follow up with you in a day or so.


  3. pmshah

    How is the functionality any different from what you get in MkvToolNix. To be honest I would much rather pay for AnyDVD and use any of the umpteen freeware converters, including the one built into VLC itsef.

    From your screenshots I observed that the saved file size is no smaller than the original. So there is no real format conversion. All that one needs to do is select the ifo file and mkvmergegui will do the rest perfectly.

    To be honest I have zero experience with BluRay discs. The media as well as the drives are still far too expensive and the choice is very limited. With dusty environment the drives have short life expectancy in any case. So I can’t justify the expense.

    There is yet another freeware application, vobmerge that will do the same but instead give you single large vob file.

    • Hey Pmshah,

      What works for you – works for you. On the other hand – what works for me – works for me.

      You see value in spending 50 Euro to purchase a commercial product. Whereas, I’m satisfied with the capabilities, in this case, of a free Open Source application. An application that gets the job done.

      You see value in reducing the size of a multimedia file through conversion. Not me. There is always a loss in quality following a conversion to one extent or another.

      You see a benefit in producing a single large file. But, my choice is to reproduce the the media as defined, so that I continue to have access to a series of choices as the author intended.