DVD Ripping Software: Fairmount & SlySoft AnyDVD

AnyDVD Logo I’ve been looking at two pieces of software to rip my DVDs as part of my Video on Demand project. They are pretty much polar opposites. One is free (open source/GPL license) while the other is commercial. One is for Windows and the other is for the Mac.

Fairmount is Open Source for the Mac that is included in the download for DVDRemaster. DVDRemaster is a commercial product that does not have to be installed (and I haven’t installed it). Fairmount does require that the VLC Video Player is also installed. VLC is also Open Source.

The Fairmount product page outlines it’s basic operation:

    * A disc is inserted by the user.
* FairMount receives a notification about the new disc.
* If the disk is a video dvd, the original disk is unmounted.
* It then starts a local web server (which is only accessible by the local host), to serve the decrypted image.
* The decrypted image is then mounted using Apple’s tool (hdiutil).
* When the user ejects the image, the web server is stopped, and the original disc is ejected.

The Fairmount screen is shown below:

Fairmount Screen

Once Fairmount has opened the drive it appears in Finder as a mounted DMG (disk image) file. Files can be copied using drag & drop.

I had good success using Fairmount but there were several DVDs that it couldn’t handle. Also, while I can’t prove it was Fairmount, I did have considerable system instability issues on my iMac after using it for awhile. I’ve since stopped using it on my iMac and it’s been stable since. I’ve also used it on my Mac Mini and it’s been stable there, although that machine typically gets shut down daily and only runs a few different apps.

For the DVDs that Fairmount couldn’t handle I’ve been able to use AnyDVD from SlySoft which is commercial software for Windows. I’ve used the 21 day evaluation version which doesn’t save settings between sessions but is otherwise fully functional. In the 21 days I evaluated the software there have been three updates to fix issues or handle new DVD copy protection schemes. I’ve been running AnyDVD under Parallels on my Mac (a Windows XP vm) and haven’t had any problems. I also haven’t encountered any DVDs that it hasn’t been able to rip.

The AnyDVD settings screen and DVD ripping screen is shown below. Files can also be copied using drag & drop.



I haven’t done any precision tests but ripping using AnyDVD seems faster than Fairmount although each can take an hour or more depending on the DVD.

AnyDVD is 49 Euros direct from SlySoft. They are currently running a 20% off promotion (listed as ending June 22nd but already extended once). There’s also a version for ripping high-def DVDs although I didn’t look at that.

Bottom Line

Since I have a large number of DVDs in my personal library that I want to rip and have already encountered some problems with Fairmount I will probably buy AnyDVD during the promotion. It’s handled all DVDs I’ve thrown at it and it’s obviously kept up to date.

The pattern I’ve fallen into is I have Fairmount on my Mac Mini but not on the iMac. I pop into the bedroom room (where the Mac Mini is) every hour or so and swap the DVDs. This has resulted in a relatively stable system. The only other things I do on the mac Mini are encoding and watching video.

I’ve been using AnyDVD on my iMac (under Parallels). This doesn’t add any noticeable overhead over Parallels itself so I can rip DVDs while I’m working at my iMac as long as I don’t need the resource parallels is using. I’m typing this blog post now in Windows Live Writer while a DVD is being ripped. Neither CPU or memory usage in the VM is stressed.

There’s also MacTheRipper which is a classic DVD ripper for the Mac. MacTheRipper Version 2.6.6 is still free but it is a couple years old. I had more problems with MTR than I did with Fairmount although it was fine for older DVDs. There is a MacTheRipper 3 but this requires going through a donation process in order to get it and future updates are dependent on the level of donations being sufficient. Register in the forums to find out about version 3.