How To Duplicate a DVD

Information About Free Software and Steps for Duplication

Duplicating discs

I used to travel a lot, and experience taught me to never take an original CD or DVD on the road. I invariably ended up damaging or losing a disk at some point. Because of legitimate piracy concerns, DVD manufacturers put copy protection on many releases, so duplicating a disk is not always a simple matter. This article does not attempt to teach you how to pirate DVDs, but if you have your own legitimate need for an archival copy, you can duplicate most disks inexpensively. 

This article will not duplicate information found in its companion article, which tells you how to choose DVD burning software.

  1. Choose your duplication software. See the companion article. I will use two examples below, DVDShrink, a freeware DVD burning software package, and Nero, a commercial software title. This article is not an endorsement of this product. It is just a title with which I am familiar.  You can also check out DVD Copy Pro - this is another commercial product, and it makes great copies.  The steps are pretty much the same for most copying jobs.
  2. Duplication using freeware. Even if your disk is not copy protected, the contents of a commercial DVD may often be too large to fit on a DVD-R/RW or DVD+R/RW. Freeware can take care of this problem. Get a copy of the free software DVDShrink. Also visit for the best step-by-step guide for using DVDShrink. They also have excellent and useful companion software there to make DVDShrink perform to its maximum, and it is all free. Other links from point to even more guides such as The Golden Rules of Burning. You will find DVDShrink easy to use. I prefer it to commercial software.
  3. Duplication using Nero. I purchased Nero 6. With a rebate, it was moderately priced. It tries to do everything, and it does some things well. For things it does not do well, I use something else. The module in Nero 6 that will duplicate a DVD is called Nero Recode. The procedure is very straightforward:
    • Start Nero Recode. Select Copy Entire DVD-Video from the Nero main menu.
    • Press the Import DVD button. You will get a common dialogue box with folders that will include your DVD player. Select it.
    • Examine the Content window. It will have columns labeled Content, Duration, Size and Video Quality. At lower right there is a check box labeled Fit to Target, and it should have DVD-5 (4.7 GB) as a default. If you have a dual layer burner and the right media, you can increase this to DVD-9 (8.5 GB), but you can only burn the resulting DVD on a compatible player.
    • Make the movie fit. See if you have to de-select any titles, audio tracks or subpictures to get the copy to fit. You can preview content to see if you can do without a title. Highlight the title in the Content window, then use the controls above the window at lower left to preview it. If you get rid of everything you feel you can do without, and the movie still will not fit, you have no choice but to reduce quality. Press the More button at bottom left. Click the Profiles button. Select your preferences for the relative quality of main movie to extras. Save as a new profile. What percentages do the Video Quality sliders indicate at the right side of the Content window? Can you live with this quality? Does the movie fit (according to the meter at the bottom)?
    • Click Next at bottom right. Make sure your burner is the destination and that the temporary files drive has at least 5 GB of space.
    • Burn the DVD.

Again, this is not a tutorial on pirating DVDs, so it is assumed that is it legal to copy the disks you have selected for archival purposes. The user interfaces for the free burning software and commercial duplicating software above are actually similar in terms of most functionality. The concepts are the same: rip the audio and video from the source DVD to the hard disk, calculate compression and delete unwanted content or features to make things fit, and burn to the new disk. Good luck, and may all your backups be successful.


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