Making personal backups of DVDs is a highly controversial topic that is still being tested in the courts. No copy-protection mechanisms were circumvented during our testing, and CNET does not encourage or condone the illegal copying of commercial DVDs.
DVD Copy's interface is straightforward, flexible, and unambiguous. Nearly all of its features can be accessed from a single, easy-to-understand screen that organizes most copy jobs into an intuitive, three-step procedure.
DVD Copy's three-step main screen lets you set up most disc-copying jobs simply by specifying a source, a target, and an output format.
You begin by choosing source and target devices and selecting an output format. The program analyzes your selections and reports the number of pieces of blank media you'll need. You can easily change the media count by changing the source, target, or output medium. In most cases, DVD Copy will automatically configure its copy settings to burn as quickly as possible, but two buttons, Properties and Customize, let you fine-tune to your preference. These buttons offer fewer choices than Pinnacle InstantCopy's extensive Details section, but what's there is useful--and less intimidating to newbies. Once you have everything in place, you simply click the Start Burning button to begin copying.
DVD Copy is designed to back up DVDs, but it can also duplicate CD-Audio and CD-ROM titles. The program can copy DVD movies to VCD (VideoCD), SVCD (Super VideoCD), and DivX CDs. It can also rip a DVD to an image folder stored on your hard drive and subsequently burn discs from saved images. DVD Copy won't duplicate copy-protected DVDs. It also knows which types of output are legal for any given source and won't, for instance, let you try to copy an audio CD to a DVD. But like most other disc-copying packages, it has no compunctions about burning a cracked disc image that was created with third-party freeware.
DVD Copy's Customization features let you preview each movie chapter and delete unwanted content to save space.
DVD Copy can't read or create compressed ISO disc-image files (a common type of file used to exchange video content on the Internet), but it easily handles the more common type of ripped DVD image--multiple files stored in a video_ts folder. The program also boasts the unique ability to combine several such folders into one job. This lets you rip multiple movies to your hard drive one at a time, then burn them together as a single title.
Whenever necessary, DVD Copy compresses DVD-Video content written to CD or to a single piece of DVD media, automatically deciding how much compression is needed to produce the best-looking results. It can also generate a perfect uncompressed (1:1) copy of any disc that's small enough to fit on one DVD, and it can back up a dual-layer disc without compression by splitting it between two pieces of DVD media. In the latter case, all menus and navigational controls are copied to both discs.
The "Fit to one disc" function automatically squeezes your output onto a single piece of blank media with optimal video quality. Unchecking this box allows a DVD-Video source to be copied to multiple DVD blanks without compression.
DVD Copy's modest selection of optional features let you set a few easy-to-understand parameters such as the size of your blank media and the name of your output disc. The program's Customization panel lets you preview each movie chapter and omit any that you don't want to copy. This step can save you some disc space, but editing is limited: you can't remove subtitles or extra audio tracks, nor can you modify navigational restrictions that prevent viewers from performing functions such as fast-forwarding past an FBI warning screen.
DVD Copy could be the fastest DVD-copying program we've tested, thanks to a sophisticated burning methodology that creates direct disc-to-disc copies in a single pass without buffering content to the hard drive (assuming that you're copying between media in different drives).
DVD Copy is superfast because it creates direct disc-to-disc copies in a single pass without buffering content to the hard drive.
During our hands-on evaluation, DVD Copy ranked first in every benchmark, often by a ridiculously wide margin. It compressed an unprotected 8GB dual-layer DVD onto a single piece of Verbatim 4X DVD+R DVD media in 1 hour, 20 minutes, easily beating Pinnacle InstantCopy's 2-hour-and-5-minute results. It performed a 1:1 (uncompressed) copy of that same disc to two pieces of DVD media in less than 27 minutes, compared to slightly more than 50 minutes for 321 Studios' DVD X Copy.
The margin was narrower when burning a 60-minute DVD-Video movie to VCD, producing a 1-hour, 13-minute result compared to 1 hour, 26 minutes for 321 Studios' DVD Copy Plus. The difference in actual elapsed time was greater because DVD X Copy's process required more steps. In all cases, our testbed was configured with a 2.5GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of PC800 RDRAM, and a 7,200rpm Western Digital Caviar hard drive. We copied content from a Pioneer DVR-A05 to a Sony DRX-500UL DVD-rewriter.
DVD Copy's output quality was competitive with that of any of other program we've tested. When copying our dual-layer test disc to a single piece of media, video was squeezed to about 60 percent of its original size. The resulting degradation was obvious on our test setup--a 57-inch Hitachi SWX20B rear-projection HDTV and progressive-scan Panasonic CP-72 DVD player--and nearly identical to the output produced by InstantCopy. Many users would find the loss of picture quality acceptable when viewed on a smaller monitor.
InterVideo's Web site provides access to upgrades and patches, as well as to a small number of FAQs and e-mail support. The company also maintains a tech-support line that's available at a toll number from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET.
When we made a test call during heavy usage hours, we were connected to a specialist after only a few minutes on hold. Although she worked hard to solve our admittedly challenging problems, she wasn't able to answer our most difficult questions. Nonetheless, she took our e-mail address and sent us satisfactory answers the following day.