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Build the Raft Before the Flood (Matrix Pt. 4)


This post is all about backing up your treasured Swedish DVDs & Blu-ray discs, for all the good reasons you can think of, but especially for the ones you can’t.

Once you get a serious collection of Swedish movies going, the temptation is to push it all the way. I've given in to the temptation. This translates into a fair bit of scratch, though that's the smaller concern when you start thinking about what it would take to rebuild such a collection. Many of the titles I've bought have been the only copies listed for sale. (See my earlier post on finding content.) I'm not sure that it would be possible to find them all again, despite the Internet marketplace at my fingertips.

Backing up is a bit of a process. The peace of mind that comes with protecting your time and investment is the direct benefit. There are also two bonuses to your efforts. The first is portability: you can play the backup files you create on the devices of your choosing. I'll detail the other bonus in my next post.

What does it take to make your backups, then? Here's a way to do it on a Windows PC, and I'll add a few notes regarding Mac along the way. There are four pieces to the solution:

1. Your PC or Mac, with enough storage space to save your files.

2. A drive which can read Blu-ray (BD) and DVD discs. (A BD drive will read both.)

3. An application which can read the discs and create the backup files.

4. An application which can play the files on your PC, Mac, Kindle, iPad, etc.*

Because the content includes both Blu-ray discs (BDs) and DVDs, you need a drive which can read both. I bought the LG Electronics Blu-ray DVD Writer (model #BE16NU50) from Amazon. You can get away with a reader, but this is my only optical drive, so I bought big. I'm talking more about the drive itself rather than price. While it's only about $140 on Amazon, it is roughly 9" x 6.5" x 2". I found desk space for the drive, but it's hardly portable by modern standards.

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 recognized the LG drive, and Amazon reviews suggest that it works fine on Macs. I recommend not installing the Windows software that comes with the LG drive, if you only need to backup ("rip") your discs.**

Instead, get a copy of MakeMKV, from http://www.makemkv.com. The trial period is thirty days, and it's $50 for the full version. Here's how to work with it -- pretty easy. When you open the program and put a disc in the drive, it looks like so:

Click on the picture of the drive, and MKV will read preliminary info from the disc. This takes a while; just how long depends on the amount of data on the disc. For this example, I'm using the first disc from Äkta Människor, Season Two.

Once MakeMKV tells you "Operation successfully completed", choose an output folder and click "Make MKV".***

MakeMKV will let you know when it's finished making your backup. That brings us to the final piece of the solution: playing your backup files.

If you go the "Output folder," you'll see that MakeMKV creates files called (for example) "Title1.mkv". To play these files, I recommend VLC Player (www.videolan.org/vlc). It's free, it's open-source, and the versions for PC, Mac, iPad, Kindle, Android, and Linux all can play .mkv files.

Special Note for TV Series

You should handle series differently from movies. MakeMKV places all the chapters into a single folder. You need to move each episode into its own folder. This can take some time. For Äkta Människor (which was four discs), I played each disc in the set, just to see the first minute or so of each episode. Then I viewed the .mkv files, found the file that corresponded to each episode, then moved that .mkv file into a folder by itself.

I recommend that you do this for every series you buy. You should end up with something like this -- a folder for the show, a folder for the season (ignore my Säsong_Ett), and then a folder for each episode.

Keep an eye out for my next post on "magically" adding subtitles to shows which originally did not have them!

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* You can also "cast" from your PC to your TV, using devices like Microsoft's wireless display adapter or something similar.

** Actually, I think Windows 10 will write ("burn") BD & DVD discs without extra software, though you may need other software if you want to want to write discs that play in standard BD or DVD players. I'm fairly confident Mac does all this natively too.

*** An advanced note here: you can see that I checked just one of the "Title" boxes in the left pane of the window. Usually, I pick the "Title" which is the largest and has the most chapters, unchecking all the others. I do this to save space. MKV will check all of the boxes by default, and you can proceed that way if you're not worried about running out of space on your computer.


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