HandBrake Slow in DVD / Video Encoding / Decoding: Why It Happens and How to Improve?

[Latest Updated: Jan. 15, 2019 by Arlene Cooper to HandBrake Error Fixes]

HandBake Slow and How to Improve

HandBrake Slow: Why It Happens and How to Improve?

"HandBrake Slow" may allude to two things: one is the transcoding speed problem itself; another is a quality-oriented setting option in Encoder Preset bar under Optimise Video, in parallel with Slower, VerySlow, Pacebo, Medium, Fast, Faster, Veryfast, Superfast and Ultrafast. This text will primarily focus on HandBrake speedup ideas, but possibly also touch on the latter point.

It stands to reason that HandBrake is not slow, especially not for the latest version 1.2.0 which has embraced new hardware encoders and decoders, say, AMD VCE, Nvidia NVENC, and Apple VideoToolbox for acceleration. But if you are using the older version of the open-source DVD/video converter, or still suffer from tardiness after update, you've come to the right place.

Palpably, people's complaints can be classified into two situations:
1. HandBrake is always slow.
2. HandBrake is suddenly slow.

Let's dive deeper into the reasons and fixes, one by one.

Part 1: Why My HandBrake DVD Ripper Is Always Slow?

User feedbacks:
I was converting some video_ts and audio_ts DVD folders into MPEG-4 files on my i7-3770k PC using HandBrake. Strangely, it took 8-10 hours to convert a 2 hour movie. It doesn't make any sense that it even took times longer to convert than to play back real time.

The constant slowness of HandBrake is a matter of hardware or software, so to speak. The good point is it will be easy to handle. For most cases, upgrading your CPU would work. Otherwise, you can update the software to the latest version or try the default settings.

If still nothing has changed, do confirm whether your HandBrake is using all cores. Check your CPU usage: if it's not sitting on 100%, it indicates that you have room for acceleration. Change the process priority to High or Realtime to have a try.

Reading and extracting data or video content from a DVD folder or ISO image file arguably takes a shorter time than from disc itself. But to tell the truth, because HandBrake does not run for video pass through, it needs to decode and re-encode a DVD or a video every time to complete the whole process. It will take way longer time than lossless DVD pass-through (ripping DVD without transcording).

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, however, is equipped with sector-by-sector DVD / video / audio Pass-through Technology. Without transcoding, the all-in-one media tool can edit videos, convert a video stream to MKV for the inclusion of multiple audio / subtitle tracks; copy DVD to ISO image, VIDEO_TS or H264 MKV file with original DVD structure, and more. Converting a lengthy video or DVD costs as few as 5 minutes!

For Windows and Mac only. If you are a mobile user, please click here.

Part 2: Why HandBrake Suddenly Becomes Slow

User feedbacks:
I have been using Handbrake to copy my DVD collection to my NAS drive. But recently it has become really slow for no discernible reason. The fps has dropped down from 90-120fps to 8-22fps when ripping. It takes about 50-65 minutes to rip a TV episode.

If HandBrake normally runs fast on your PC or Mac, but becomes slow in some days or for some discs, things may be complicated, because it is spoiled with too many reasons, such as the video source (for example, DVD or Blu-ray not supported), incorrect encoding and improper settings.

You'd analyze and count out the reasons one by one and figure out the matched solutions.

Reason 1: Google Chrome slows down Handbrake

According to a tweet from a famous editor, Google Chrome locks down low-level VideoToolBox framework. As Handbrake also relies on VideoToolBox to accelerate video encoding, its DVD encoding speed is affected by Chrome. Appleinsider has tested the speed difference with Chrome and Handbrake, and the transcoding speed of Handbrake is 30% slower with Chrome compared with Safari. To improve Handbrake encoding speed, avoid Chrome or try other browsers.

Reason 2: The source disc is not supported by HandBrake

HandBrake is not slow; it depends on whether the source disc is supported by it. Normally, it takes ten more minutes to rip a common disc. However, HandBrake won't rip copy-protected DVDs if no libdvdcss is installed. And still, libdvdcss hasn't been supported in a long time. It more often than not causes issues. Moreover, newer structural DVD copy protections that are advanced and intricate than CSS became more pervasive. Libdvdcss are not enough to deal with them, leaving many discs not able to rip.

Therefore, when converting a severely encrypted DVD such as Disney DVD, HandBrake may loop, crash or stop at the 99th titles. Such phenomenon may be taken for HandBrake slow issue, but in fact it isn't. The same thing goes to video source, which may also make HandBrake stuck.

Although the unsupported source should not be taken as the HandBrake speed problem, there is a way out. To cope with new DVD movies or more protected DVDs, you are suggested to try another piece of software like WinX DVD Ripper Platinum or MakeMKV.

Reason 3: Your HandBrake wasn't optimized for GPU acceleration or CPU usage

Since version 1.0.7, HandBrake has supported Intel Quick Sync Video for HEVC/H.265 encoder; and since version 1.2.0, it has added AMD VCE, Nvidia NVENC, and Apple VideoToolbox driven hardware acceleration.

If your computer supports both Intel QSV and GPU hardware acceleration, you should enable and active both for the utmost hardware-accelerated video encoding. If you find that your HandBrake is not using GPU or multicore, please check your settings first.

Read specific solutions:
How to Set Hardware Acceleration on HandBrake >
How to Fix if HandBrake Not Using All Cores >

Reason 4: Improper settings on HandBrake

Some people complained that the newer HandBrake versions are way slower. That sounds absurd. The root cause would be the settings. You are suggested to go back to default settings to have a try.

In order to get a higher visual quality in resulting file, some user will turn to, for example, "High Profile preset", "2-pass Encoding", "Very Slow x264 Preset", "change x264 Tune to Film", "keep Constant Quality", "Remove the Pass-Thru", turn on "5.1 DTS-HD MA", "Dolby TrueHD", "AAC with Dolby Pro Logic II (PLII)". These HandBrake quality settings may all slow down the conversion process.

However, the cruel truth is: The Slower Presets don't always tend to change image quality all that much. And compared with Slow Presets, it rarely reduces file size by more than 1 or 2 percent. Even if you change it to Ultrafast, you wouldn't encode much faster because you'd be bottlenecked by the decoding.

Level-3 Hardware Acceleration will make up for the deficiencies. Unlike the average Hardware Encoder, this technology will extract intact raw data from source DVD, realize Hardware Decoder, and buffer for GPU-based processing and hardware encoder in later processes. It can quicken the whole process of DVD or video transcoding without affecting image quality.

Handbrake alternative download

WinX DVD Ripper (Platinum Edition) is by far the only DVD ripper software that reaches this level, and utilizes hardware Acceleration in DVD video decoding, processing and encoding. It will be way faster to rip a copy-protected DVD without the help of any plug-in or third-party tool.

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum Box

The Best HandBrake Alternative

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is the best HandBrake alternative for DVD ripping. It even supports scratched DVDs, 99 title DVDs (Disney DRM), Sony ARccOS, UOPs, APS, RCE, etc. It converts DVDs / ISO images / folders to MP4, AVI, MPEG2, MOV, FLV, iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. at ultrafast speed.

For PC and Mac only. Mobile user Click here.

How to use | Contact Support | Learn More

Related External Source from Wiki:
HandBrake - HandBrake is a free and open-source transcoder for digital video files, originally developed in 2003 by Eric Petit (a.k.a. "titer" from his SVN repository username) to make ripping a film from a DVD to a data storage device easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions...

About the Author

   Arlene Cooper@cooper_arlene

Arlene Cooper is a seasoned content creator with over 10 years of experience in Windows at large. She has been specialized in almost any technology with Windows OS and written thousands of new articles, covering everything from in-depth features of new laptops, latest GPU/CPU PC hardware, games, to software related. While digging into new techs, she continues enjoying painting and comics.

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