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Backing up to DVD is easy with a backup program or a DVD burner. Copying a video DVD, however, requires a different tool, and may be illegal.
How do I backup to DVD? How can I copy video DVDs?
DVDs have become great backup media. With capacities of nearly 5 gigabytes on a single disk you can place a LOT of data on one. Doing so needn't be difficult but there are a few options.
Copying video DVDs on the other hand may not be that easy.
Chances are your DVD writer included software with it to be able to burn not only DVDs but CDs as well. That's always the best place to start. (If your drive did not include software, I've had good luck with Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator.) I use these types of packages to copy files I've selected onto CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R media.
Windows XP itself also has burning software included. With XP you can treat some types of media - most notably "RW" media - as if they were just another drive by simply copying files to it.
Important: While we're talking about formats, it's important to note that the "+" and "-" in the DVD media types are significant. DVD-R and DVD+R are two different standards. Most DVD writers will work with one or the other but not both. The same goes for DVD-RW and DVD+RW. Make sure you get the right kind of media for your drive.
Now then, about copying those video DVDs.
As much as I hate to say it, I've always viewed the claims of copying software very skeptically. The fact is that the movie industry has taken many steps to prevent piracy, and it wouldn't surprise me if the claims made for the ability to copy video DVDs weren't blown out of proportion. I'd be fairly shocked if there was a package that could legally copy a commercially produced DVD. I definitely understand that there are legitimate needs for making a personal, backup copy of a DVD you own, I'm just not currently aware of a working legal solution.
So my recommendation is this: get the backup scenario working. This will validate that your drive fundamentally works and that you have the correct type of media. Then you can try the DVD copying packages. I'd be interested in hearing which ones actually work, if any.
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