The best software for ripping your discs

You’ve got a mountain of discs and a free weekend. It’s time to put the kettle on and start The Great Rip

Physical media is so very 20th-century.

But before you can start streaming songs to your Sonos, you'll need to turn your discs into data. Likewise, you'll need to convert your DVDs and Blu-rays to digital video files if you want to embrace the streaming media revolution. These are the tools you'll need.

Scenario #1: You’re archiving physical media for the first time

Start by making a ‘master’ rip in a lossless format. Then sell your discs (this does, of course, make you a terrible person), or make dumbbells from them. 

For audio rips, software that works with the AccurateRip online database is best. Rip CDs into FLAC files with MediaMonkey (S$31) for Windows 8, or dBPoweramp (US$38). On a Mac, use XLD (free) for FLAC, or iTunes if your kit is mostly Apple. 

For video, rip Blu-ray and DVD masters into the MKV format with MakeMKV (PC and Mac, free). Prepared to pay? AnyDVD (from €37) for PC and RipIt (US$25) for Mac, are slick and quick.

More after the break...

Scenario #2: You want to convert discs and lossless files for your tablets and smartphones

Time to make your masters into phone-friendly mini files. Or, if you like, rip a disc straight to the desired size.

For audio rips, both MediaMonkey and dBPoweramp offer wide format support for those using Windows, but a free option is MediaHuman’s Free Audio Converter. Works for Mac too, as does XLD, but less prettily.

Ripping video? You'll want the popular and free Handbrake app. Available for both Windows and Mac, it’ll swallow any format you throw at it and spit out a made-to-measure conversion. It also includes handy presets for Apple and Android devices for a two-click rip. Good ol’ Handbrake.

Scenario #3: Your existing collection is in need of a spring clean

Does your library have missing artwork and tag discrepancies (‘Pixies’, ‘The Pixies’)? Give it the feather duster treatment.

For audio, the best free tool for tag fixes and cover art is MP3Tag, which searches online to get you the right metadata. It’s Windows-only, though, so Mac users should check out Tagr (free) or TuneUp (US$50) for a more comprehensive clean.

Cleaning up your video collection? MetaZ for Mac (free) gets data from sources such as Tag Chimp. Your Windows option is FileBot, while XBMC users should get Media Companion, which finds everything.

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