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Posted by Kaley Torres - Contact Authoremail icon

Can't Play/Read/Decode DVD? Solve It in 5 Minutes!

Playing DVD is not always a plain sailing, even if you have installed a third-party DVD decoder on Windows Media Player or spend extra $15 on Windows DVD Player for Windows 10. Most often, you get a DVD playback failure. For example, your optical DVD drive can't read a disc, a region error occurs while playing a UK or Japanese DVD in the USA, or a new DVD makes noise and delivers choppy playback. You may even receive error messages like Windows Media Player cannot play DVD because of digital copy protection, "cannot decode disk" from Windows DVD player or "VLC cannot set the DVD's title", etc.

Windows Media Player and VLC failed to play DVD

Why does this happen? How to fix such a variety of DVD not decoding/playing/reading errors? This post will help you figure out the possible reasons and solutions for "Can't decode DVD" error.

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Please Do Not use WinX DVD Ripper to rip rental DVDs.

tips Since DVDs are less scratch-resistant, why not decode and copy DVDs to hard drive to protect your investment and then play the digital copies on the go.

Part 1: Why Your DVD Disc Cannot Be Decoded?

Physical disc drives are going the way of the dodo. Modern laptops and even many modern desktop PCs have dropped disc drives, making you unable to play DVDs on computers. Then how can you play DVD on computer? You surely can buy an external DVD drive and open a DVD player program like 5KPlayer. But what if you want to make your large DVD libraries accessible on TV, Tesla, Waymo, mobiles and tablets without HDMI and Wi-Fi? You need a DVD ripper to make DVD digital copies! Don't wait until the optical DVD drive is gone to digitize your DVDs. However, if your computer has a DVD drive but you still can't decode/read DVD, here are some of the possible causes for it:

1. Your DVD disc is damaged.

DVD disc is the first to blame. It's reasonable that your DVD player stops playing when reading visible scratches. However, there are cases that your DVD looks very new but it's unplayable. Probably, the DVD has scratches that are invisible to the naked eye. Or it'is intentionally used as a means of encryption like Sony DVDs. When playing/ripping Sony DVDs, bad sectors will be read in a loop (also called CRC error) until the DVD drive burnt out.

2. Your DVD drive is corrupted or DVD driver is outdated.

DVD drive can be the culprit. If it's damaged, your will encounter a DVD read error, or disc drive won't even detect DVD, CRC data error, I/O error etc. In this case, you can buy another DVD drive ($40 or so) to fix the error. And outdated driver causes a stuttering DVD playing or even makes DVD unplayable or unconvertible, since the heavy DVD decode work will be turned over to CPU from GPU. For example, some DVD ripper decoders drop to a rare low fps during decoding/encoding DVD due to the CUDA failing. But if you update the driver up to date, GPU will revitalize for smooth DVD playback.

3. You don't have a compatible DVD decoder installed.

Windows Media Player doesn't offer a software plug-in that enables the DVD video playback in MPEG-2 format. When you play DVD on it, you'll get an error message "Windows Media Player cannot play the file because the codec is not installed on your computer". In this case, you can install a compatible DVD decoder to slove DVD not playing issue. Make sure you download the right drivers for your architecture (32 or 64 bit).

4. The region code of DVD player, DVD drive and disc are not the same.

Region codes prevent playback of DVDs in other geographical regions, for example, region 2 discs won't play in region 1 players, and PAL discs cannot be played on a NTSC standard player. If your DVD player or DVD drive has improper region setting, you can change it up to 5 times only before it's locked permanently. Check region free DVD player for help.

5. DVD encryption cannot be bypassed.

The above mentioned causes have a certain possibility leading in DVD decoding failure. However, the real culprit for DVD won't play, read, or decode error lies in the DVD encryption cannot be bypassed, for example, VLC won't play DVDs etc. Thus, if you can decrypt CSS protected DVDs, unlock region code, remove new DVDs encryption with a DVD decoder, all issues will be solved easily.

Part 2: Top 3 DVD Decoding Software for Windows and Mac

#1. Make Digital Copies of DVDs with DVD Ripper - Fast & 100% Working

Rather than taking $55 to buy a DVD drive ($40 or so) and Windows DVD Player ($15) for an uncertain DVD playback, ripping DVDs to digital with a DVD ripper would make DVDs playable on any media players of Windows & macOS without consideration of DVD decoder, 32-bit/64-bit limit. Besides, you're able to store your DVD discs more securely without unexpectedly scratches or damages, and extend your DVD lifespan by minimizing the number of physical disc playback.

However, 90% DVD rippers can't do that very well, causing errors like DVD not reading, crashing/freezing, incomplete DVD copy, or poor output quality etc. For that, you might as well try an easier yet more effective one - WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, which digitize any (protected) DVD at GPU (Intel QSV/AMD/Nvidia) accelerated speed, 5X faster than any counterpart.

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  • Update weekly to ensure the support of decrypting various new released DVDs, and CSS, region codes, Disney and more encryptions.
  • 350+ output formats supported, including MP4, H.264, AVI, MOV, TV, mobiles, Tesla/Waymo and more. 100% quality reserved.

Attention: Never create digital backup copies from rental DVDs!!!

Any input DVD disc is supported
WinX DVD Ripper Platinum supports to decode and rip all kinds of DVDs

[Tutorial] How to Decrypt DVD to Digital Format

Get the DVD decoder download on Windows 10/8/7/XP or MacOS 10.15 or lower, install and launch it on your desktop. Then go through the rundown of guides to decrypt new & protected DVD to digital formats without DVD read/decode error.

Step 1: Load DVD disc to the DVD decoding software. Insert your DVD disc into the DVD drive, open WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, and click "DVD Disc" button to import your DVD. If you want to rip DVD to digital from ISO image or DVD Folder, you can also click "ISO Image" or "Folder" button to load it. The program will automatically choose the right title for you, no matter what encryption is used for the DVD, incl. the newly released DVDs.

Step 2: Select an output format. Choose output format from the popup window according to your needs. For example, MP4 for playback on mobiles, MKV for full titles, audios, videos and subtitles backup, ISO image DVD clone for later burning etc. Optionally, you can also click "Edit" button to trim, crop, adjust audio volume, add subtitles and more.

decode DVD to MP4 format
Rip DVD to digital without decoding error

Step 3: Start Ripping DVD. Hit RUN and it will begin decrypting DVD immediately. If your computer has supported graphic cards, you can raise the ripping speed maximally with hardware acceleration enabled, merely 5 minutes to rip a full DVD movie.

Disclaimer: Digiarty Software does not advocate ripping copy-protected DVDs for any commercial purpose and suggests referring to the DVD copyright laws in your countries before doing so.

#2. Install A Compatible DVD Decoder & Update Display Driver

If you insist on playing DVD on computer with Windows Media Player or Windows DVD player, a third-party DVD decoder is ever needed, which could solve a large part of DVD won't play on Windows 10/8/7/XP. If it doesn't work, you can also try to update the graphic driver.

How to install a compatible DVD decoder on Windows Media Player:

Step 1: Open your Winodws Media Player. Note: Windows Media Player is unable to play a DVD movies on Windows 10.

Step 2: In the Tools menu, click Options.

Step 3: Click the Player tab, and then click to select the Download codecs automatically check box. After you've done, click OK.

Step 4: Try to play the file. If you are prompted to install the codec, click Install. If you are not asked to install the codec and the DVD still cannot play on PC correctly, follow the steps below to manually install the DVD decoder.

Configure Windows Media Player
Configure Windows Media Player to download codecs automatically

Step 5: Determine whether the codec is installed on the computer that you're using to play DVDs.

  1. In the Now Playing area, right-click the file that you are trying to play, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the File tab, note the codecs that are specified in the Audio codec and the Video codec areas, and then click OK. If no audio/video codec is specified, go Step 6 to install the codec.
  3. On the Help menu, click About Windows Media Player. Then click the Technical Support Information hyperlink. If the codec is not listed, go to step 6

Step 6: Install the codec:

  1. If you receive an error message when you try to play the file, click Web Help. On the Microsoft Web site, click the link to the Wmplugins Web site to download and install the codec for the file.
  2. If you do not receive an error message when you try to play the file, obtain the codec from a third-party vendor such as K-Lite Codec Pack, and install it.

If you still cannot play DVD after installing a compatible DVD codec for Windows 10/8/7/XP, try to update drivers . To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1: Press Windows key + X and click on Device manager.

Step 2: Locate for Display Adaptor and expand it.

Update driver in Windows 10
Update driver in Windows 10

Step 3: Right click on the adaptor and click on update. This will launch the update driver software wizard, which presents two options: Search automatically for updated driver software and Browse my computer for driver software.

Step 4: Pick an arbitrary one, and click Next, then wait while the wizard completes the installation.

There is no guarantee that installing a codec and updating display driver will solve "can't decode DVD" error. If you still cannot decode and play DVD on Windows Media Player or Windows DVD Player, it might be an issue of DVD drive. You can buy another DVD drive to make your DVD disc recognizable, but it will cost you $40 or so. Given that, why not choose a cheaper and easier solution to fix "can't decode DVD" error?

#3. Use 5KPlayer to Play DVD without DVD Decoding Error

As above, installing DVD decoder may not be vaild to make your DVD playable. However, you need some Windows DVD decoder checkup utility to determine whether a DVD transcoder is successfully installed on your Windows XP/7/8.1/10 computer and whether the decoder is seamlessly compatible with your Windows Media Player. And there are so many compatibility issues between players and DVD decoding programs, some of which are not even safe enough. It would be fantastic to play DVDs without downloading and installing any DVD decoder (pack). It is easier than you think!

5KPlayer is a compatible multimedia solution for your PC, guiding it to the path of the DVD inserted for flawless playback on any DVDs. No fancy tricks, it with user-friendly GUI is a truly compatible multimedia solution that everyone should have. It plays regular DVDs, regional DVDs, copy-protected DVDs, movie DVDs, etc., as well as SD/HD/UHD videos, without any other third-party decoder or plug-in. It also downloads online music and movies, AirPlay streams audio videos...

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How to Play DVD with 5KPlayer:

Step 1. Launch 5KPlayer on your computer. It is totally free and clean.

Step 2. Insert any DVD into the DVD-ROM, and flip "+DVD" icon (the third one in the first line of UI).

Play DVD without a DVD decoder
Play DVD without a DVD decoder

Step 3. When 5KPlayer prompts you to open DVD disc, you can choose the source DVD disc from your DVD Driver. Just hit "OK".

Step 4. When the DVD info has been read, you can choose the language track and so on from the list. And then the player will begin to play the DVD.

Step 5. Similar to other DVD players, 5KPlayer allows you to double-click any position on the image to view the movie full size. Or you can click on the square button on the top right. You can also find your recent playlists in the "Library".

Watch video tutorial on how to play DVD without DVD decoding error

Final Words:

DVD not decoding/playing on Windows Media Player and Windows DVD Player happens owing to an incompatible DVD decoder, an outdated display driver and even a broken DVD drive. Fixing it would take you a lot of time, energe and money. Therefore, ripping DVD to digital formats using WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is the fastest and most cost-effective solution recommended by us. It is capable of ripping DVD to MP4, MOV, MKV, MPEG-2, ISO image, TS etc, making DVD playable on any media players, stored more safely as well as slowing down the loss of DVD lifespan because of over-analysis.

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author - Kaley Torres

Kaley Torres twitter icon

Kaley Torres is a self-motivated, creative editor with eight years of marketing and SEO experience, specializing in writing on DVD, video, audio, images, new digital contents etc. With a partiality DVD collection, Kaley also enjoys digitizing DVD and is keen to share her DVD video conversion solutions as well as video sharing tips on social media.

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