How to Speed up DVD Backups and Shrinking


 By  Diller234







Programs such as DVDDecrypter, Smartripper, DVDShrink, etc. rely on a fast, efficient computer system for rapid copying. Transcoding (shrinking) depends upon the speed of the CPU, memory and motherboard, in particular. But all programs depend upon the speed of the DVD-ROM drive. The speed of the DVD-ROM reader can make a tremendous difference in terms of the  total time required. For example, in my tests, I have seen the same 16X DVD-ROM drive rip a new 4.7 Gigabyte single layer commercial DVD-Video in seven minutes in one configuration and in over one hour in another. There are a number of people in the Forums who have complained that their system once ripped quickly and now, for some reason, runs at a snail’s pace. No amount of tweaking the BIOS or Windows seems to help.


I have done some research and experimentation using different drives and computers to determine what can be done to expedite this process. It is also important to remember that the speed of the DVD-ROM drive can also affect the quality of your DVD Video playback. This is particularly true on a slower machine, since software playback is hardware dependent.






The speed of a one time (1X) CDROM is 150 Kilobytes per second and the speed of 1X DVD-ROM is nine times faster at 1.32 Mbytes/sec. The rotation speed for a DVD drive is not much faster than a CD-ROM drive but the data acquisition speed is much faster due to smaller tracks and tighter spacing of the data tracks. Most drives also include RAM  buffers to allow burst rates of about 12 Mbytes/sec. Programs such as DVDDecrypter also provide main computer memory buffers. You can observe these buffers fill and empty during ripping in this program.


Current DVD-ROM readers cost about $70-$100 US retail (for an IDE drive) and provide read rates which are typically 8 to 16X for DVD-ROM read. Some units actually specify that DVD-ROM speed is 16X while DVD-Video is 8X and DVD-R or CD-ROM yet a different speed. Some are honest enough to confess that these speeds are only realistic when connected to an IDE Drive at ATA100 or faster. I have not seen any significant troubleshooting information in the sparse literature accompanying these drives. 


DVD Burners have made progress in terms of their abilities to read quickly. They were formerly considered relatively slow

but the new Pioneer DVR-106  and others read  at a very respectable speed. The overriding question becomes: why wear out your expensive DVD-burner motor and lasers when you can own a second, read-only drive for a relatively low price?


DVD-ROM drives and burners can be connected using IDE connectors, SCSI, USB 2.0 or Firewire (1394). Consumer SCSI drives do not generally read over 10X rate.




The UDMA Question



Transfer of data from the hard drive or any CD-ROM or DVD-ROM  can be performed using IDE slots on the motherboard .

This is the method which is most often used due to simplicity and cost. Many new computers are equipped with either DVD-ROM readers (which also read CD-ROM) or a “combo” drive that reads DVD-ROM and reads, as well as burns, CD-ROM.

The transfer from the IDE drive to the CPU and memory can be performed wither with Programmed Input-Output (PIO)

or with Ultra Direct Memory Transfer (UDMA). Some BIOS’s allow you to monitor and change the PIO status of your drives.

A PIO mode 6 is the maximum that I have seen and may only apply to one drive. This is usually IDE 0 (the master) on the Primary IDE controller or C Drive. This setting may be ignored by Windows which determines its own “optimal” setting depending on the motherboard and version of Windows.


The other, preferred method of transfer is using UDMA. The UDMA controller is integrated into the motherboard and PCI controller system.  It provides for direct transfer of data from the drive to main computer memory under instructions from the CPU (central processing unit).  PIO requires much more CPU activity so that UDMA is much faster, on the order of 7 to 10 times, depending on the UDMA mode and the number of drives present. Sharing of UDMA channels does occur but it depends upon the motherboard and other factors. Certainly installing your motherboard chipset drivers will help maximize transfer rate.


I also should point out that Windows behavior with the same hardware is unpredictable. One day the drive may run at 7X and the next day, 2.0 times. I used a 16X DVD-ROM drive for months at 7.0X but after a necessary Windows 200 installation , the rate dropped to 2.0 times and could not be adjusted, regardless of its position in the IDE system  or tweaking .


You can and should examine the UDMA status of your drives. It is simple under Windows 2000 and XP. Open Control Panel=>

System=>Hardware=> Device Manager=>Click on IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers (Figure 1, Win2k)  then right click on each Channel

(Figure 2, Win2k) to examine the DMA status. Choose the tab for Advanced Settings. These examples are from a two year old motherboard. Current systems will show a UDMA setting of Mode 4 or 5 for the Primary Master (Drive 0) and Mode 2 for the Secondary Master (Drive 0) which is frequently where the DVD-ROM drive is installed. The Primary Slave can be faster but the Secondary IDE Slave is usually the slowest position.


I recently examined two name brand Pentium 4 2.5 Gigahertz machines. The DVD-ROM drives showed only UDMA 2 and performed at only 3.5X with a new 4.7 Gigabyte drive! The C drives were at UDMA mode 5. You cannot, however, install a DVD-ROM as Primary Master or the operating system will not start!


Windows 9.x gives only the option of right clicking on your CDROM drive in Device Manager. You can choose DMA and reboot, which is usually a good idea. DMA can cause problems with hard drives in Windows 9.x.




Figure 1






Figure 2


Speed Data


Both  DVDDecrypter and Smartripper will give you a real time monitor of ripping rate. I prefer the former program because its data is a little more complete. Although these programs remove Macrovision and deencrypt, most of their function is dedicated towards copying the large VOB files (or an ISO file) to the hard drive. Since most current hard drives are ATA100 and up and DVD-ROM operates at a maximum of ATA33,  the hard drive should not be a limiting step. We will address the bottle neck in the next section.


In my tests, I used various DVD-ROM drives, all advertised as 16X. For a commercial DVD-Video of 4.7 Gigabyte maximum capacity (2 hours playing time), the average read rate was 5.0 to 8.0X overall and 13X maximum when properly configured. The same drive, when poorly configured, ran at 0.7 to 1.0 time. These discs are single layer and use parallel track paths (a non-continuous ring)


For a commercial 9.4 Gigabyte disc, the average rates varied between 3.0 and 5.5 X.  These are dual-layer discs that use Opposite Track Paths. These means that the reader reads one layer from inside to outside and then the second layer is read outside to inside. On a double sided disc, one side may be widescreen and contain special features and is therefore more than 4.7 Gigabytes. This would be the dual-layer side and often has a gold tint. The other, more silver colored side, may represent the film in standard aspect ratio and is less than 4.7 Gig. Only once have I seen a double dual layered disc. 


For DVD-R, high quality, the average rate was between 2.0 and 5.5 X.


These differences are explained by a number of factors. First of all, no disc drive reads at a constant rate and they do not ramp up to maximum rate immediately. There is an error checking mechanism present and scratched or worn discs will produce more errors. This does not mean that the software will halt since some errors will always be present but perhaps not viewable. Minor errors will, however, slow the drive—sometimes drastically. Severe, unreadable sections of the disc will cause your software to halt.  You will also notice in DVDDecrypter that the drive slows down when moving to the next VOB file—this is due to the need to reapply the CSS crack. In addition, all files are not burned to the disc in the most efficient manner. The read head may need to search the DVD-ROM for the proper files.


Commercial DVD’s are produced using laser etching of a metallic master. Subsequent copies are then stamped. DVD-R or +R

are produced using a dye which is sensitive to exposure with a laser. The quality of the media and methodology is also responsible

for the differences in speed. In other words, the DVD-ROM will not read any faster than the speed at which it can reliably extract the data.


Since the disc read rate is not constant,  I can also rely upon the total time to copy as an index of speed. This information is very interesting from the standpoint of the meaning of TIMES. Does one time mean that this is the minimum required for smooth viewing of a DVD?  At one point, I had an external drive connected as USB 1.1 to a fast laptop. The movie was certainly watchable but there were some rough spots. The read rate was reported at 0.7 times!

Smooth playback is dependent upon hardware only in a set top box and upon multiple factors in a PC. These include software, the DVD drive, its connection to the system, the CPU speed, memory, motherboard and video card. This is why WinDVD warns you that software playback is hardware dependent when it first opens. Most DVD drives operate at 1.2 to 2.0 speed under worst connection conditions and therefore can read faster than the PC requires to display the video.


If you can rip a two hours (120 minute) movie in seven minutes or less. does that mean that the read rate is 17 times

(i.e. 120 divided by 7)?  DVDDecrypter and Smartripper will report this rate as 7X during ripping. Perhaps this is what is meant by the manufacturers when they advertise this merchandise as 16X. More likely, it refers to maximum possible read rate.


DVDShrink indicates the data rate during deep analysis. During one session, the rate was s reported at 3.8 Mbytes/sec. Therefore, the DVD drive must read at least  3X  to avoid  a delay in the remainder of the system. The analysis and shrinking process must involve numerous mathematical operations since this rate would not be limited by the hard drive.



The Solutions


It should be obvious that connecting your new DVD-ROM drive anywhere in the IDE chain can slow it down. You burner is another issue. If your burn at 1X or 2X, and the burning process progresses smoothly, there is no reason to relocate it from its current position on the IDE bus.


SCSI DVD readers are somewhat more expensive and may only give 10X maximum speed—check the documentation that comes with it.


There are two methods that will improve your read speed:


The first is to use a PCI card IDE controller. These controllers are marketed by a variety of companies. The most famous has the brand name Promise but Best Buy sells the SIIG brand for about $40 US. Since these controllers plug directly into the PCI bus, they can deliver UDMA performance. By setting the DVD-ROM drive to Master, use a separate IDE port for it on the card. Be certain to purchase an ATA133 card since it will deliver the latest improvements in technology. The card should include at least one 80 pin high speed IDE cable. Drivers are provided with the card.


The remaining ports can be used for other drives if you purchase an additional cable. If you create a master/slave IDE drive using this port, the UDMA speeds will be somewhat reduced, as in the main PC IDE port situation.


Install the card and then its drivers. Check Control Panel to determine the UDMA status of the card. You can right click on SCSI and RAID controllers in Device

Manager to check the DMA status of the new controller card (Figure 3). Not all card drivers will display the current UDMA status.




Figure 3




Notice that in this configuration, the 80 pin IDE cable was attached to the Secondary channel and resulted in UDMA mode 4 . Attaching it to the 

Primary channel also gave UDMA mode 4. This resulted in a read rate of about 13.0X maximum.



The second method involves using an external DVD player with either USB 2.0 or Firewire (1394)  inputs to the PC. There are many commercial

external drive products available for either  DVD-ROM or DVD burning. You can simply search the Net for USB 2.0 or 1394  DVD to find them.

Instead, I chose an external enclosure (about $70)  for USB 2.0 and installed the new 16X DVD-ROM inside it . This particular unit had its own small power supply with mini cooling fan to supply the circuit board . The drive was about an eighth of an inch (3mm) too long for the enclosure which was not a problem. The enclosure has IDE and power connections internally and a standard 110 volt connector and USB jack externally. .


My laptop had onboard USB 2.0 connectors and I purchased a  $20 card USB 2.0 card for the PC. In both cases, drivers were required for the USB 2.0 serial hub as well as the host controllers. The external enclosure box included drivers and the PC card drivers were specific to the NEC controller on the card.

First the computer is booted fully and the USB cable from the drive inserted. The first driver is then loaded. After reboot, examine Device Manager

for question marks indicating uninstalled drivers. Right click to open Properties and install the missing driver from the CDROM or Windows Update. This

process can be frustrating but it is ultimately successful . If  Windows Explorer cannot recognize your DVD title, it is most likely a driver issue. Since you no longer

need the USB 1.1 sockets, you can save an IRQ by disabling this port in your BIOS settings.


Before removing power from the drive, it must be “stopped  by clicking on an icon on the taskbar and then choosing STOP.  Otherwise, Windows can become unstable and the drivers may need reinstallation . If Windows locks during ripping, however, removing power to the drive will allow you to Shut Down peacefully.


The speed  results for the same drive using an internal IDE card and external USB 2.0 connection were essentially the same—both provided no restriction in transfer rate from the drive. There was one small issue with DVDDecrypter on the laptop using the external drive:  it would rip in ISO mode (up to 13X!) but not in File mode. All other ripping programs behaved normally and there was no such anomaly with the external drive on the PC. Playback was also very smooth with the external drive and it saved wear on the expensive laptop combo drive.


Many retailers sell USB 2.0 and Firewire enclosures including enclosures with both outputs. One of many is

The maximum USB 2.0 transfer rate is 60 Mbytes/sec and for Firewire (1394), 50 Mbytes/sec. The USB 1.1 rate is 1.5 MBytes/sec.







The DVD read drive is the “front end” of the backup system. Even with a very fast, current system, there can be a significant restriction

in ripping or shrinking speed due to inefficient transfer of data from this drive.


Here are some suggestions:



  1. Test your current DVD ripping speed using DVDDecrypter or other ripping programs. Install your motherboard’s chipset drivers.
  2. For DVD backup, Purchase a separate, dedicated DVD-ROM drive with 16X speed, unless SCSI is used or you choose an integrated, external USB 2.0 or Firewire drive.
  1. If you purchase a combo drive, find one with high DVD read rate.
  2. Consider using a PCI controller for an IDE DVD reader with one port dedicated to the reader.
  3. An external enclosure for an IDE drive can be used and provides USB 2.0, Firewire, or both inputs to a PC or laptop.
  4. Ripping speed depends on the media as well as the presence of scratches and wear. Transfer rate is highest with a  new commercial, single layer

4.7 Gigabyte disc and an optimized reader.






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