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This is a fantastic piece of software, which allows you to back-up your DVD movie collection to disc's or to a folder on your computer.
DVD's are so expensive and this takes away all the stress of having them, as all you have to do is copy your movie and then you can let the kids loose with it to play frisbe or whatever it is they do to manage to break and scratch them!
It wil copy pretty much most DVD's and also 'shrinks' the content down to fit on to a regular DVD-R disc, which are really cheap themselves.
Copying a disc takes between 25-45 mintues dependent on your computer and the DVD you are copying.
This software also has the ability to split up an original dvd, say if you wanted to remove the menu, or the extras to save space, you can do that with the flick of a button.
One thing that is lacking from this software is the ability to create a menu. This is not really a good piece of software for copying your own movies onto disc's, although you can do it, many features and options are lacking.
Overall a great piece of software, and avaliable as freeware, so you will be able to download it for free!
You want to let your kids have DVDs, why not? Well, one reason could be that they get their grubby little paws onto the disc surface, or don't take particular care with what could a treasure part of your collection. Back in the days of video tape, you could make a copy of the movie using a couple of video recorders. You accepted that the quality may not be the same, but it was better than having to buy a new copy because the kids had destroyed the original.
A similar thinking can be applied to DVDs, however, original DVDs store a lot more information than the blank recordable DVDs that are available, usually 6 to 9 Gb, compared to 4.3 Gb of a blank.
Imagine if you will, you had a big sponge, and wanted to pack it in a small bag. Leave the sponge as it is, and it won't fit. But squeeze that sponge so it takes up less room, and hey presto, it fits. Why does the sponge now fit? It is because the sponge has been compressed.
DVDshrink's primary function is to compress the data on a DVD, such that it will fit onto a standard recordable DVD. If an area appears to be a lot of the same colour blue, then why not mark that as one large bit of blue, instead of hundreds or thousands of little ones. It takes a lot less storage to store one big patch, then lots of little ones.
DVDshrink also allows you to identify parts that you don't want or don't need on the backup disc. If you only speak English, you can remove the French, Spanish, German etc. audio files, and also the subtitles for those nations. Different audio types can also be decided upon, allowing you to select between 2-channel stereo, or Dolby 5.1 surround sound. If you don't mind losing some of the audio experience this can be a great way to save space for better quality video.
Perhaps you don't want the extras or special features, these can also be removed, resulting in the main feature (the movie) being of better visual quality.
If you travel a lot, and often find yourself in different region's of the world, you may find that a normal DVD will not play in the DVD players in the foreign country. This is due to the disc having a region code, this is a licensing issue as opposed to a technical issue. DVDshrink can remove the region code from the backup disc, or indeed, change the region code so that it can be played in any DVD player worldwide. DVDshrink also handles most of the encryption methods applied to DVDs, another plus point.
Once you have decided upon your 'ideal' backup disc, you can set DVDshrink away, it will read the original, creating a temporary structure on your hard disc, then if you have Nero Burning Rom, allow you to burn to your blank DVD.
The only discs I have found it difficult to shrink have been Sony discs who employ a copy protection system that Shrink doesn't like. I have also reverted back to v3.1 of DVDshrink as I was somewhat unhappy with the quality produced by v3.2
I can see how this tool could be abused by pirates, and probably accounts for some of it's popularity. For this reason, I am not going to link directly to it, but a google search should result in enough hits for you to get the idea. I would like to give thanks to the videohelp website, who have guides for all sorts of different video and disc conversions. The tool is also free to download and use.
Have you ever tried getting a two litre jug and trying to ram it full with 3 litres of liquid ? What happens isn't that successful, though when it comes to making DVD's inexperienced users try to do just that, though with content rather than liquid. The content of a DVD is often enormous and cannot be written to an average size writeable DVD. When you try to do this with standard re-write software, although some offer limited shrinking of files, like the Microsoft Media Centre, often that little bit of squashing of the file results in bad copies, or isn't sufficient to shrink the file sufficiently to copy it.
Believe me, I tried everything to get a back up copy of one film without the use of this program, and before I even knew that it existed, and ultimately failed. I was trying to squash things, without really knowing what I was doing.
So how can you squash a file, make it work efficiently, and fit a standard DVD Rom ?
This is where DVD shrink comes in, and believe me, it works. When you open a DVD with the DVD shrink program, what the program shows you on the left hand side of a very easy screen is the list of files that make up the DVD that you wish to back up. It takes a little while for the program to sort out all the files but it really is worth waiting for. When they are sorted, there is a neat list and what this shows you are the many things that you can delete to make the file manageable. For example, do you really want all the language options that are available ?
By unticking the boxes for the languages that you do not want, you reduce the size of the file that you are going to copy. On the left hand side of the screen are the different areas that make up your film, and a typical example is this ;
By pressing each one in turn on the left hand side, you get the contents of this section showing up on the right hand side and again can untick those items that are not required on the copy you are about to make. A nice neat bar at the top tells you the size of file that you have, and below this the compression choices appear, although here I tend to trust the program to know what it is doing and tend not to mess around with the settings. The options available are are Automatic (or pre-set shrinking) which I use all of the time and seems to suit my needs, or you can be adventurous and set your own settings, using the bar at the top of the screen to judge just how much you need to shrink a file to fit it on a standard DVD.
Having unticked all the items that you don't want, you can go on to copying your DVD by pressing the Backup button at the top. This really is a neat feature, and although it takes time, what it does is move all the files you wish to be on your finished disc to a file. The best bit about this is that instead of having heaps and heaps of movie files on your hard drive, each time you use DVD shrink, it gets rid of the last batch of files from your last copy, and replaces them with the new ones from the DVD you are trying to copy.
DVD shrink works in conjunction with your chosen back up software, such as Nero, and whilst most of the time it works fine, I have a choice of two programs to work in conjunction with DVD shrink, i.e. Nero and One click DVD copy. Both work well, though generally Nero kicks in and copies my files very adequately, with only the occasional need to use the other program.
DVD shrink also works on the encryption of DVD files, and has built in decryption algorithms and what this means to the user is that it can overcome problems encountered with protected data. It also has a very neat area for re-authoring your DVD or choosing bits that you don't want to show up on your copy. This is extremely handy for compilations and allows the user to choose which bits they want, and which bits they don't.
I wanted to learn how to use it without interacting on forums which are available on the net, and one of the places that gave me the best information of all was Doom9.net where a full instruction sheet on DVD shrink took me through all the stages it takes to have the confidence to use the program to its best ability, and learning to re-author really was a bonus, because I could choose to copy just the main film and forget about all the extras that are unimportant to me, although if you have several files, you cannot recreate a menu. How this affects me is that I cannot put several episodes of television programs onto one disc with this program, since it is not possible to access several files without creating a menu and here, I use Nero on its own, which allows me to do this. Since the episodes I write to DVD don't require shrinking, this doesn't cause me limitations, though I can see that not being able to create menus may hinder others in their creation of DVDs.
You can do a deep analysis of your files to ensure the best quality of pictures, though I have to admit that I haven't used this option and the quality of my DVDs is first rate. When everything is shrunk to your satisfaction, pressing the back-up button takes you into the file being created which then loads into Nero and copies direct to disc. Easy, simple and effective.
The speed of copies is not as fast as using OneClickDVD software, although the copies are super, and the drive really isn't noisy whilst using this program to prepare your DVD files to burn.
The program can be downloaded free from the Internet. You should never have to pay for it, and it works well with all Windows from 98 through to XP. It's a tiny program at 0,97Mo, downloads quickly and really doesn't take a lot of skill to learn how to use. It's a very easy program to use, and when analyzing your film, you get a small vignette of the film itself with a progress bar which tells you the stages of analysis. Leave it working away. It really is worth it, because the program is so basically simple that even debutantes at making copy DVDs soon get into the swing of using it on a regular basis.
A very worthy program, and one that I would highly recommend to those people who have tried to put 3 litres into a two litre pot. Shrinking the DVD contents doesn't seem to distort the picture, and since many of the items you chose to shrink are by elimination, i.e. Languages and extras that you do not require, the quality of the copies is superb. I haven't encountered a DVD that the program cannot handle yet, and believe this to be the easiest of all the programs that I have ever tried to use to make those large files small enough to copy.