Building your stream-able media library Part 1 – Digitizing your DVD Collection


This is the first section of a two part guide on creating a stream-able media library for videos and music. This is something I am currently going through myself and after a lot of trial and error I found something that works well for me. Our goal is to put all of our media on a local machine and stream that content from anywhere that there’s a connection. When you’re done you will be able to access your videos and music wirelessly wherever there is an internet connection!!! In Part 1 I will show you how to take your unwieldy pile of DVDs and turn it into a compact digital library!!! Then in Part 2 we will focus on the networking stuff.

Step 1:What you will need:

  • First you will need a DVD drive (duh…)
  • Second you need dvd ripping software. After going through lots of “free” options I finally settled on a nice little program called Make MKV which can be found here for FREE!
  • Third you’re gonna  need conversion/compression software. I chose a free tool called Handbrake which can be downloaded here.
  • Once you have both of these programs installed grab your dvd collection and GET READY TO DIGITIZE!!!

Step 2:Ripping your DVD Collection

First We need to take your DVD and turn it into a .mkv file. An mkv is just a file format capable of holding a large number of tracks, which makes it the perfect format for dvd information. These files are gonna be BIG but don’t worry, I promise we’ll take care of that later. If you’re curious you can check out the Wikipedia Article to learn more, otherwise let’s get rippin’

  • Start by picking your DVD and popping it into your disc drive.
  • Next start MakeMKV.
  • When MakeMKV fires up it will detect your DVD. Once it has, the button in the middle of the screen will turn from grey to colored. When you see this click it.

image of button

  • Wait a few seconds and you will be presented with a hierarchy of check-boxes. You will want to uncheck all of the boxes save for the main one (usually the first, always the biggest). Expand this selection to view all of the audio tracks and subtitle tracks. I like to keep English audio and subtitles but you can keep whatever you think you’ll need. The less you check, the smaller the file will be in the end.

Picture of available titles and tracks

  • Once you are satisfied with your selection click the picture of folder icon button to select the output folder.
  • Last of all click the picture of Make MKV buttonbutton to begin the ripping process.
  • This will take a bit so just sit tight until a popup window displays. Press OK and you’re done ripping!!!

picture of Popup Window

Step 3: Compressing/Converting your Files

Now that we have our nice big .mkv file we’re gonna want to slim it down a bit. Not only that but you might decide you don’t like this .mkv fellow. After all what’s wrong with trusty old .mp4 or .mov? Well with the power of Handbrake we can custom order our video files just how we like them!

NOTE: This part takes quite a while and really sucks up your CPU so if you need to get stuff done it might be best to wait, otherwise PRESS ON!!!

  • To begin, yup you guessed it, fire up Handbrake
  • First click Source at the top left of the window and select Video file. Then find the .mkv file you just made and press OK
    • HINT: if you never renamed the file it may be titled something like Title00

  • Now it’s time to customize all of the settings. Since there are so many options I will just lead you through my personal preference.
  • If you click the browse button you can select the output folder for the converted file.
  • Below that is an option for Container, change this from MKV to MP4 File (unless it already says MP4 file).
  • On the right you will see a list of presets. Select Android High and we will begin customizing the Audio, Subtitles, and Chapters settings.

  • Start with the Audio tab. If you ripped more than one audio track from the DVD you’ll need to select the ones you want from the drop down men and click the Add Track button. If the list at the bottom contains tracks you don’t want, select them and click Remove.
  • I also like to increase the Gain by clicking the Advanced button and sliding the Gain bar up to 8. This makes the playback a bit louder but is totally unnecessary.

  • If you want subtitles go to the Subtitles tab and select the tracks you want from the drop down list. Then click Add

  • Go to the Chapters tab and make sure the “Create chapter markers” box is checked

  • Now that you have all of the settings ready to go, just muster your patience and click 
  • As I mentioned earlier this will hog your CPU and take quite some time so go read a book or something


Well that’s it! Now you have the ability to turn your entire DVD collection into compact MP4 files that can be played with virtually any media player on the market! Once you get comfortable with the steps feel free to play around with the settings and see what works for you. Keep an eye out for part 2 of this guide where I show you how to set up a media server for your digital collection that can be streamed to ANY DEVICE!!!


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