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How to Free Rip Copy-protected DVD with VLC and HandBrake

Here's the guide on how to free rip CSS copy-protected DVDs with VLC and HandBrake, and we also recommend the best alternative for ripping any (copyright protected) DVD faster and easier.

Handbrake is very popular among DVD owners. It's free and reliable to help convert DVDs to MP4/MKV. However, Handbrake doesn't support copy protection officially. But if you have both VLC and Handbrake installed on your computer, things get easier. VLC can help HandBrake rip copy-protected DVDs for free. Why and how? Learn how to free rip protected DVDs using VLC with HandBrake in the article below.

VLC/HandBrake won't Read DVDs, Rip Crashes, Rip Parts only?

Handbrake and VLC can rip DVDs protected with region codes and CSS only.

Try WinX DVD Ripper [FREE and safe] - free rip ANY protected DVDs without the use of third-party tools. Rip Disney 99-title DVD, oversized 75GB disc, DVD with playlist obfuscation/bad sector, unplayable/damaged DVDs, workout/AV DVDs, etc. to MP4 (H.264/HEVC), MOV, AVI, WMV, iPhone, iPad, Android, Apple TV, etc. 5x faster to rip a DVD with Intel/Nvidia/AMD GPU hardware accelerated (rip a full DVD in 5 minutes on robust hardware configurations). No CPU overuse, crashes, incomplete rip errors!

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HandBrake vs WinX DVD Ripper

Part 1. How do VLC and HandBrake Handle Copy Protections?

HandBrake is free and popular to convert DVDs to H.264/H.265 MP4/MKV/M4V, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, etc. on Windows, Mac and Linux. However, Handbrake can't remove copy protections on commercial DVDs on its own. But with a third-party library called libdvdcss, Handbrake is able to read DVDs protected by CSS. The libdvdcss is a part of the VideoLAN project and is used by VLC media player. That means you don't need to install VLC in order to help Handbrake handle protected DVDs. What you need is the libdvdcss library.

So why do many online guides and this post tell you to rip DVDs with Handbrake and VLC? This is because installing libdvdcss, for most non-technical users, is more complicated than getting VLC, especially on a Mac device. VLC contains the libdvdcss library that Handbrake requires for protected DVDs, and there is a good chance that you already have it installed on your computer.

Note: VLC media player also has the power to independently rip DVDs to MP4 MOV AVI, etc. digital formats. But the DVD ripping process in VLC is not equal to the general DVD ripping as you thought. It's more like a process to record the DVD content to MP4 in real time. Beyond that, VLC only supports GPU decoding, not GPU Hardware accelerated encoding. Hence, the ripping speed is a snail's pace.

Rip DVD with VLC and HandBrake
Rip DVD with VLC and HandBrake

Part 2. How to Free Rip DVD with VLC and HandBrake

HandBrake doesn't have an internal decryption algorithm and has no plans to support copy-protected DVDs for copyright reasons. However, VLC assists in the removal of DRM from DVDs via the included library libdvdcss. Now, let's get started with ripping protected DVDs with VLC and HandBrake.

Step 1: Download Handbrake and VLC

Click to download Handbrake and VLC if you haven't got them on your computer. Make sure you download the correct versions for your operating system. Then install them as per the prompts. (The most recent Handbrake 1.5.1 version may prompt you to install.NET 6.0 Desktop Runtime.)

Instead of VLC, you can also manually download libdvdcss for Handbrake. Here is a detailed guide on how to download install libdvdcss. After downloading the libdvdcss, rename it as libdvdcss.dll and copy into HandBrake directory.

Note: Confirm that the dll file version completely meets your computer system, for example, Windows 32-bit or 64-bit.

Download VLC Libdvdcss for Handbrake
Download VLC Libdvdcss for Handbrake

Step 2. Load the source DVD

Now open Handbrake and insert your DVD into the optical drive. Click Open Source on Handbrake, and you should see your DVD detected under the Source Selection panel. Select it. Also, you can import an ISO image or VIDEO_TS folder by using the Open Folder/File options.

You don't need to run VLC, and Handbrake will automatically apply the libdvdcss in VLC to remove the copy protections. The process happens in the background and you may see a "Please wait" scanning window. After VLC libdvdcss successfully breaks the DRM, Handbrake will load the correct title and chapter. If not, Handbrake will give an error message like "no valid source found".

Load DVD to VLC and HandBrake
Load DVD into VLC and HandBrake

Step 3. Choose a quality preset

Open the Presets drop-down menu, choose a quality preset for the ripping. Normally, select General and choose Fast 579p25 or Fast 480p30 for ripping DVDs. A higher quality setting won't make the output quality better. You can also find presets for the iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, Android, etc.

VLC and HandBrake remove copy protection
VLC HandBrake remove copy protection

Step 4. Set the Handbrake to rip DVDs

Next, choose to use Handbrake and VLC to rip protected DVDs to an MP4 or MKV container under the Summary tab. Then click on the Video tab. You may need to decide if you want to save the converted DVD video in H.264, H.265, MPEG-4, VP9/8, etc. Leave other parameters, such as the quality settings, as defaults if you're not 100% sure what they mean. Handbrake will choose what it thinks is best for you.

Rip DVD with VLC and HandBrake
Rip DVD with VLC and HandBrake

Step 5. Start to rip copy-protected DVDs

Click the Browse button under Save as to set an output folder on your computer to store the ripped video file. Then click the Start Encode button on the top menu bar. The VLC libdvdcss and Handbrake will start to rip the DVD into the format you set.

Part 3. VLC/HandBrake won't Rip DVDs? Free Rip ANY Protected DVDs Easily

Handbrake with VLC can't rip all protected DVDs. DVDs with new and complicated encryptions (such as 99-title DRM) are not supported. In fact, neither Handbrake nor VLC are DVD rippers.

To handle an encrypted DVD, try the free VLC/HandBrake alternative - WinX DVD Ripper.

  • It's able to rip DVDs with CSS, UOP, RCE, region code 1-6, Disney X-project DRM, Sony ARccOS, and almost all other protections.
  • Convert DVDs to MP4, MPEG, WMV, MOV, MKV, VOB, ISO image, FLV, MP3, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Xbox, PS5, etc.
  • It can automatically check the correct main title of DVD to save your time to check main title by playing whole DVD in VLC.
  • The speed test proves that WinX is 5x faster to rip a DVD than HandBrake.
  • It is very safe to rip DVD with this best VLC/HandBrake alternative because it is completely stand-alone with adware, spyware, malware and virus free.

Further reading: WinX DVD Ripper vs. HandBrake…

Tutorial to Rip DVD with Best VLC/HandBrake Alternative

Step 1. Insert DVD in DVD-ROM and import this DVD to WinX DVD Ripper by clicking DVD Disc. Certainly, DVD folder can be imported as source by clicking Folder button.

Step 2. A couple of seconds later, DVD will be completely loaded. Select main title and click MP4 Video to transcode DVD to MP4 or other profiles for converting DVD to MPEG, WMV, FLV, MOV, Music or DVD to iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, HTC, Samsung and PSP. Also, you can adjust audio/video settings according to your requirement.

Best VLC/HandBrake Alternative
Best VLC/HandBrake Alternative

Step 3. Customize output settings, audio/subtitle/output folder. Then, click RUN to rip DVD with this best VLC/HandBrake alternative.

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Donna Peng

Jack Watt twitter icon

Jack Watt is a sought-after editor at Digiarty. He is responsible for digital and multimedia world, delivering definitive video and audio related software reviews, enlightening guides, and incisive analysis. As a fan of Apple, Jack Watt also brings his experience to more readers and focuses on writing of the Apple ecosystem at large.

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