Category Archives: Backups

If you had to do DVD backups from windows

Say you want to let your grandmother backup her DVDs using her clunky old windows laptop. You want a windows solution that 1) rips the DVDs, 2) copies them to a backup, 3) makes them available for viewing from wherever (e.g. accessible over the internet).

The solution I came up with is as follows:

  • Download cygwin and install rsync. I hadn’t used cygwin for a long time, but basically you download either the 32 or 64 bit version here, then filter for rsync and select it. Cygwin seems to do a good job of only pulling what is necessary.
  • Download HandbrakeCLI. You dont need the full Handbrake installer, just the CLI. You should be able to google for it, but i found it here
  • libdvdcss. This is all over the internet. Just google and ye shall find. You need this to be able to decrypt most DVDs. Just place the DVD dll inside your handbrake folder to enable decss capability.
  • Download VLC. I felt like ripping my DVDs with chapter markers. The best format for supporting this kind of thing seems to be matroska (mkv). VLC natively supports mkv, which is handy if youre viewing these DVDs locally

I then automated the whole thing with the following script:

@echo off
set /p dvdname= Enter DVD Name (no spaces):
set basepath=<localScratchDir>%dvdname%.mkv
set remotedir=<remoteBackupPathDir>/%dvdname%.mkv
FOR /F "tokens=* USEBACKQ" %%F IN (`c:\cygwin64\bin\cygpath %basepath%`) DO (
SET basepathunix=%%F
echo Ripping to %basepath%
HandBrakeCLI --main-feature -m -i d: -o %basepath% -e x264 -q 20 -B 160
echo Copying %basepathunix% to backup
c:\cygwin64\bin\rsync.exe -e "/usr/bin/ssh -p <remotePort>" -auvhP %basepathunix%  <remoteUser>@<remoteSite>:%remotedir%

if "%errorlevel%"=="0" (
        echo Completed successfully!
if not "%errorlevel%"=="0" (
        echo DVD backup did NOT complete successfully!
echo Removing %basepath%
del %basepath%

set /p dummy=Press enter to finish

Note some assumptions about this script:

  • You are running 64bit cygwin. If not change from c:\cygwin64
  • You want to push to somewhere offsite. You can just skip the rsync step if you want to go local.
  • Note that I used a custom port in this example; you can remove the -e switch and its argument if you’re using a standard port.
  • This example assumes you have set up ssh keys properly. Meaning you ssh-keygen on your windows box (from your cygwin shell!) then copy your key to the dest machine (perhaps using ssh-copy-id). I don’t allow password authentication, so somtimes its easiest to just ssh into the remote host somewhere that has access, then teamviewer/rdesktop/whatever into your windows box to copy the ~/.ssh/ file into the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file.
  • I don’t care about extra content, so im only ripping the main feature.

As for legally accessing your DVDs remotely: you can use one of any methods. I have found PLEX to work well.

FenBackup Through the Years

This is more of a tour of the past six years or so of various iterations of Fenimore backup solutions.


  • Solution 1.  Soon after I got married I found that between my wife and I we had around 1TB of movies, images, and documents from school.  We were also accruing around 5-10GB a week on family videos and pictures (hey, 1080p video cameras are readily available, and generate fairly big, hi-res videos).   Around Oct 2010 the price of 1.5TB drives was pretty low – around $80 each (this was right before the huge price spike a year or so later due to some disaster in the Pacific).  So I built a 3TB software-RAID 6 array with linux and a large tower.  I also had two 3TB RAID 5 arrays that plugged into hot-swap bays.  I periodically rotated these arrays to an offsite location.  By “periodically,” I mean it was every week or so for a month, then exponentially decayed to about once or twice a year towards the end.  backup_schemes
  • Solution 2. Enter the QNAP.  By this point I had upgraded to 3TB drives in my consolidated linux solution.  I took those drives out of my linux box and moved them into a 4-bay QNAP (TS-453 Pro).  I found that all of these 3TB WD Green drives started dying.  As I write this I am actually not sure what the heck happened, but soon I found myself buying some 5TB WD RED (NAS-grade) drives to replace the WD Greens.  These have worked much better.  This solution has also been nice because anytime I need to do work on my linux box or on the NAS it doesn’t take down my whole network.  It was also nice because I ended up making all my files accessible (in theory) via QNAPs cloud software.  The only flaw is that I tried to continue my offsite backup scheme wherein a drive was cycled to an offsite location; this actually was worse with QNAP, because QNAP doesn’t like the drives to be removed. backup_schemes2
  • Solution 3: Redundant QNAPs over VPN.  This is basically an upgrade to my QNAP solution where I bought a cheaper 2-bay QNAP.  The second QNAP fulfills my offsite backup goals. It sits on the other side of the country and is available 24/7 for my main qnap to push a copy of my data to it.backup_schemes3

Overall I’d say this solution is just about flawless.  It at least seems secure, works well, etc.  I found, for example, I could get to my files when I am not home.  I was even able to stream video from my qnap via PLEX to my laptop in my hotel; this turned out to be useful, for example, when my daughter wanted to watch tangled, which worked fairly well.