How to copy your old CDs and DVDs to your hard drive

To copy the contents of old CDs and DVDs to your hard drive just use some free programs available on the Internet

You've read our article about the CD "disease", also known as disc rot, and now you're afraid of losing forever the photos of an old vacation, your favorite album or a good movie from the early 2000s. No drama, it is possible to copy CDs and DVDs to a hard disk.

Let's start by saying that copying a CD or DVD is an extremely easy task that requires little time and little knowledge. Moreover, in most cases, it is also a completely free action. Some of the software useful for this task can be easily found on the Internet, while others are installed by default on our computer. Let's start by saying that the process obviously changes depending on the operating system we're going to use and also on the contents we want to copy to the hard disk.

Logically, we can only copy a CD or DVD to our hard disk if it's an original one.


The first thing we need to do to copy the contents of a CD to our PC is to create an image file, that is, an archive where all the contents of the compact disk will be stored. On Windows, to create an image file we can use a software that can be found on the Internet and is easy to download. We are talking about ImgBurn. It is a free application that allows you to copy and burn CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays of any kind. To download it just go to the official page of the software house. Once you have completed the installation, which is very simple, just follow the recommended steps and uncheck only the promotional software REACHit or AVG Zen and we can start copying the disc to the PC. To start the process we have to click on the "Create disc image" item. As the source we select the CD we have inserted in the player. At this point we copy the files inside the CD to our new folder. Set the reading speed and start the process by clicking on the CD icon with the blue arrow and the white paper next to it. At the end of the process we will have an ISO file that we can save to our hard disk.

Disk Utility

The process is even faster if we use a MacBook at home. These devices, in fact, already have installed a software, which is called Disk Utility, that can conveniently perform this task. First, we open the software and insert the CD we want to copy. Once this step is complete, click on Other and then select the icon that marks the disc we inserted. To do this we have to go to the menu File > New image > Image from [CD title] which is in the top left corner. Now click on the Format item and select the Master DVD/CD option. Now all we have to do is click on save to start copying the data. The final file will be in cdr format, which is very similar to the ISO format obtained on Windows.

Audio CD on Windows

In the beginning we talked about music albums, so let's see how to carry out the same process with music. On Microsoft operating system we can rely on Windows Media Player. True, on Windows 10 this software doesn't make much sense anymore, and it doesn't even read DVDs anymore, but it can still be used to rip a music CD. The operation is absolutely trivial. Launch the app and select your CD. We'll see all the tracks, so go to the Copy from CD &gt settings menu; Format  which is in the top right corner, and select your preferred output format from MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC and ALAC. Select the tracks to be copied one by one or all together and click on the Copy from CD button to start the process.


To do the same task on a Mac just use iTunes. It is also available for free for Windows users. First, launch the program and insert the floppy disk into the PC's disk drive. At this point we'll only have to answer the question that will appear on the screen. A question that reads: Do you want to import [CD title] into the iTunes library? If we answer Yes, the process will start automatically and we'll have the songs on our PC. Also in this case we will just have to drag them to the external hard disk. Attention, to change the transcription format, go to Import Settings and select MP3 format.

Copy a DVD

An old movie, which we particularly like, is saved on a DVD that is slowly getting ruined. What to do? Simple we use software like AnyDVD to save the contents of the DVD to our PC and then transfer it to an external hard drive. This way even the oldest movies are safe. AnyDVD is a paid tool but it has a free trial version that we can use when needed without spending money to safeguard our film library. Once the software installation is complete, we launch the program and insert the DVD. Now all we have to do is select the option Decrypt disc to hard disk. After that we have to create a folder where the contents of the DVD will be copied. It is important that this folder be in the form of VIDEO_TS. Once this is done, click Copy Disc to complete the process. But be careful, if this step seems too difficult for you, go back to the paragraph about ImgBurn. If you have a Windows PC you could copy a DVD using the same tool you already use for photos and documents.