How to Backup DVDs and Stream Them on Plex to Watch On Your Roku

Let me be perfectly clear: I am absolutely NOT promoting the idea of piracy here, nor sharing the DVD content online or in any way, redistributing, or selling the DVDs or content in any way.

Over the years, my family and I have collected countless TV series and movies on DVD and they’ve been taking up room on shelves. Over the years, we (Dad and I) have been slowly going through them and ripping many of them to our computers for backup purposes, and more recently to stream via the Plex app to our Roku devices to watch on our TVs. DVDs can take up a lot of space, and they get scratched easily.

After Dad passed a little over 3 years ago, I have continued that tradition. It’s a tedious and time consuming process, but has allowed us to donate a lot of them to second hand stores after we’ve ripped them. We can’t be bothered to try and sell them online, and we’re not sure it’s even legal to do.

Most recently, I got The Rifleman series on DVD from a seller on eBay. Here is the process I used to rip them – again, solely for backup purposes and for streaming to our own TVs using Plex and Roku.

The program I use to rip the DVDs to my hard drive is MakeMKV. It’s free. Start by clicking ‘File’, then ‘Open disc’, then select the DVD drive.

MakeMKV will then scan the DVD for content.

Next, MakeMKV will show the content it has found categorized as each ‘title’ or episode. All titles will be selected by default. I recommend leaving that alone. Then under ‘Output folder’ click the folder icon and tell MakeMKV where to rip the contents of the DVD to as individual episodes in MKV format. Then click the hard drive icon with the green arrow under ‘Make MKV’.

On this screen, MakeMKV is ripping the individual episodes to your hard drive. Once that’s done, close MakeMKV and open Handbrake to convert the MKV files to MP4 (M4V) format, which will stream easier on Plex, and be a MUCH smaller file size in M4V format. (1.XGB vs 150MB+)

Open Handbrake, click ‘Open Source’, then ‘File’.

Navigate to the folder and MKV files you want to convert to MP4 (M4V) format, and click ‘open’.

Handbrake has now loaded that MKV file. Simply click ‘Browse’ on the bottom right to tell it where to save the MP4 (M4V) file. Then click ‘Add to Queue’, then ‘Start Queue’.

The conversion process will take some time (5-10 minutes in my experience) depending on the size of the file you’re converting. You can see the real-time progress in detail at the bottom.

Repeat this process for every MKV file you want to convert. That being said, you can also do a ‘Batch Scan’ and add multiple episodes to the Queue and Handbrake will do them all, but you MUST tell it where to save each converted file using the two-step process below.

To convert many MKV files to M4V format at once, click ‘Open Source’ then ‘Batch Scan’. Then select ‘Title’, and one by one (no way around this), click them, then ‘Browse’ to tell Handbrake where to save each M4V file, then ‘Add to Queue’, and repeat the process for each episode. Then click ‘Start Queue’, and go have coffee or lunch or something. It’s going to take a while. You can do other things on your computer at the same time, but I wouldn’t recommend anything intensive as to take it easy on your computer.

Once all your MKV files are converted to M4V format, the files will have a MUCH smaller file size. This screenshot and the next one illustrate that. The MKV file is 1.84GB. The M4V file is 178MB. Significantly smaller.

This step is optional, but once you convert all the files to M4V format, I suggest deleting the MKV files to free up a lot of hard drive space.

Once you’ve finished converting all of your DVDs from each season of a TV show, you will NEED to organize them into folders for each series, season, and name them appropriately for Plex to know what to do with them. For example, Season 1 Episode 1 could be ‘S01E01’. I do this manually, but there might be a program that will do it for you. This also allows Plex to pull information from IMDB for the TV series and each episode.

Open Plex on your “server”, or the computer running Plex that your media is stored on. Scroll down on the left pane, and click ‘Libraries’. Then click ‘Add Library’.

Click the category of media that you want to apply to the media folder you want Plex to use, and give it a name in Plex, then click ‘Next’.

On this screen, browse to the folder on your computer you want to add to Plex.

This is an example of what Show Page might look like after it’s added and you browse to it within Plex.

(You may notice it looks like I’ve ripped a lot of stuff in the left pane. That’s honestly not the case. It just shows multiple folders I’ve added from stuff I’ve ripped over the years and haven’t organized as well as I should. Once I better organize it on my computer and in Plex, less will show up there.)

Here is what a particular season of a TV show might look like in Plex.

That’s it. It’s really not very complicated, just a few steps involved. If you do it a few times, you’ll get used to it. This was certainly a learned process, so I’m happy to share my experiences. 🙂

A Cool Little Story About an Old Smartphone, Dropbox, and Sharing Photos

Mom traveled back to Alberta last month for a few days to help our family decide what was be moved to our place in British Columbia, and what was being sold or donated, and to start the process of listing our Alberta house for sale.

She took the above photos using my old phone, which the Dropbox app automatically uploaded to the “Camera Uploads” folder in my Dropbox account, which then synchronized with the “Camera Uploads” Dropbox folder on my computer in British Columbia within minutes. Later on the phone, she walked around to the different rooms and we discussed the items and decided what to do with them.

We were both very impressed with how well that process worked, so I wanted to share it with you!

Obviously, the phone she used had to be connected to the house’s WiFi network in order for the Dropbox app to upload the photos. In our case it was done last Summer before we moved to BC.

Dropbox doesn’t automatically (last I checked) enable camera photo uploads by default, so this feature must be turned on. You can do that by going into “settings”, then…

Tap on “Camera Uploads”, then…

Then tap the slider to “on” to enable Camera Uploads, which then creates the “Camera Uploads” folder in your Dropbox, and linked computers.

Once the photos were done uploading and synchronizing (within minutes), I moved them all to “Photos of Leduc Stuff” folder I created in my Dropbox for easy viewing.

It’s worth noting here that Mom is one of the least tech-savvy people you could ever meet. So for her to take photos and know they simply showed up on my computer impressed both of us. All she had to do was take the photos. Technology and Dropbox did the rest. Beautiful. And stress-free. That was worth what I’m paying this year for Dropbox alone.

You can do this easily with the free version of Dropbox, but overall space is limited to 2GB, which isn’t much nowadays. I pay $120 per year for 1TB. I currently use under 200GB as a self-proclaimed Dropbox “power user”. I’d be happier paying half that for 500GB, which I doubt I’ll come close to, but those options don’t exist yet.

That said, I absolutely recommend Dropbox to everyone, as I have for many years. If you’re thinking of moving and need to share photos in the same way we did, I strongly recommend it. That said, you can also share specific photos and folders with non-Dropbox users via a privately shared link via email, Facebook, etc. Simply right click on the file or folder and click ‘Copy Dropbox link”, and share it as you see fit. 🙂