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Back up your DVDs with free BDlot ISO Master

Whether you're outfitting the ultimate home-theater PC or just trying to protect your copy of "Toy Story 3" from the kids, this utility can help.

BDlot DVD ISO Master has just three functions, all of them handy for those who need them.
BDlot DVD ISO Master has just three functions, all of them handy for those who need them.
Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

The days of physical media are slowly but surely drawing to a close. Of the last 10 movies I rented, eight came from Amazon Instant Video and one from iTunes. There wasn't a shiny silver platter in sight.

That said, lots of folks have giant DVD libraries, and with good reason. DVDs are cheap. They work great in minivans that have DVD players. And, um, oh, what was that third one again? I can't...sorry. Oops.

I kid, I kid. I'm just jokingly making the case for why you might want BDlot DVD ISO Master, a free utility that backs up your DVDs -- even if they're copy-protected.

Update: BDlot's entire site seems to be down, and has been for a couple days. I'm not sure why, but I'll update the post again if I'm able to learn more.

Specifically, it converts any disc to an ISO image file. That's not the same thing as converting it to, say, a mobile-friendly AVI or MP4 file, which a lot of commercial DVD rippers do. No, an ISO is more of a straight backup -- effectively a digital copy of your physical media.

What good is that? Well, suppose you bought a copy of "Despicable Me" (Best. Movie. Ever.) for the kids to watch. (Right. The kids.) Just one problem: the kids tend to treat DVDs the way they treat toy trucks, and it doesn't take more than a single scrape across the hardwood before you've got a scratched, unplayable coaster. That's $20 down the drain.

Or not, if you have an ISO backup of the disc. Now you can burn another copy, so long as your PC has a DVD burner. You can also make a spare: one for the living room, one for the minivan, for example.

ISO images also work well with home-theater PCs, as there's no loss of image or audio quality or any of the extras typically found on a DVD. All you need is an ISO-mounting utility (which DVD ISO Master conveniently includes) to watch these ripped files in Windows.

All you do is pop in your disc, then decide if you want all the default options. The program can remove not only CSS encryption, but also DVD region codes and those annoying, non-skippable FBI warnings. Click Run and wait while it does its thing.

I don't know if DVD ISO Master can bypass the copy protection on every DVD movie out there, but it won't cost you a penny to find out. This is a handy little utility for those looking to preserve or archive their discs.