What Handbrake doesn’t want you to know



Handbrake is now the most commonly used software to transcode video from one format to another format or from a large file size to a smaller file size or you can even do both. Its flexible, with a huge array of options you can fiddle with if you are so inclined, its updated occasionally, it actually works and its free. The most common use of Handbrake is in making backups of your personal DVD and Blu-ray collection. Here is where the story gets strange. Years ago Handbrake had the ability to RIP movies directly from disc, which was super convenient but then one dark day that feature mysteriously disappeared and that is where our story begins.

Since that mysterious day in order to enable Handbrake to RIP a disc then compress it to the size/quality you wanted was to drop off a library (file) in a specific location on your computer. That was it! Handbrake was and still to this day is programmed to look in that specific folder location to see if the library is there and then it will use that library (there is one for DVDs and one for Blu-rays as well) to remove any protection that is on the disc then compress that file (making or much smaller) and formatting it into an MPEG4 (.mv4 .mp4 or even an h.265 file) in one action.

After that fateful day, what users in the know did was to install VLC because by coincidence VLC dropped the libraries into that very same location. This solution worked very well because VLC needed the libraries itself to play discs anyway so it was no problem for one open source software group to share with another open source software.

Fast forward a few years and VLC stopped providing those libraries which left Handbrake users in a panic however an anonymous group stepped up and provided its own libraries DVD ripping (and then also for Blu-ray ripping) for free. Now all Handbrake users had to do was to download the installer, run it on their system and the files would be restored.

These libraries work very well and process just about all discs without any problem (no ripper software works perfectly so we should never expect perfection). There was a short period of time in 2016 where the libraries were not updated and a few discs were unable to be processed.

Considering that its free software, this is an amazing track record for these libraries. Think about it, how many bugs has Handbrake itself had? Thousands? Probably more than that. Think about how long Handbrake took to get to version 1.0, was it a month? A year? A decade? No, it took that large team of developers 13 years to get the software to Version 1.0, which is as best as we know a world record.

Compare that to these fee libraries that worked great with their initial version, and only had a very brief period where a few new discs could not be processed, then you can see that the quality of these libraries is far better than that of Handbrake itself.

Updating of these libraries is important because occasionally the disc makers will change to newer forms of Copy Denial© to try to stymy your attempt to backup the discs that you personally own (which is legal under US Law). If you happen to purchase a new disc and the library cannot undo the Copy Denial© then you simply don’t get your backup copy. Wait a while and when the libraries get updated you try again and and it will work fine.

The libraries aren’t updated often but then again, the Copy Denial© methods aren’t updated very often either (sometimes years pass between updates so the timing really isn’t all that critical.

Apple in their previous macOS update accidentally broke the ability for users to use these external libraries with Handbrake. It turned out that it wasn’t Apple’s fault at all. The location for the folder that the library installer used was deemed to e insecure by Apple, its not a place where users should have been placing files at all, the Linux folks that originally selected these locations (for Linux and macOS) just did not take security into account.

I found that this flaw in the installer was true and that users could not install file sin the correct location. With a trivial amount of research I saw that the instructions noted that there was a second location to drop the library off in. In testing of that location, it turns out that the alternate location is in a safe and secure location and the library works just fine there.

This is where Handbrake has a deep dark secret. More specifically, the Handbrake moderators are keeping that dar secret from you. Anyone that talks about the use of the external libraries will get warned and then banned from the forum.

Yup, its true, Handbrake moderators do not believe in free speech.And to make this worse, they deny us res such about a feature that has been a built-in part of Handbrake since the beginning, its a feature that works perfectly, its a feature that doesn’t require any support from Handbrake (since it has worked just fine for many years), but if a user tries to use the old installer and it doesn’t work (it won’t) then the Handbrake moderators will not let you tell anyone that yo simply have to drag the file to the correct location.

Easier still, the Moderators can simply go to the third party and ask them if they need help in updating the installer (an update like that would take an experienced programmer five minutes to fix, just change the default location to the correct location, its that trivial). The fix really is that easy, but no, the Moderators are practicing medieval style of oppression to keep this all silent.

Handbrake’s Moderators go out of their way to deny your posts to help others with this simple issue, they deny that it works, they tell users with broken systems that it can’t work and that its unstable. Its not broken if you bother to read the directions, its not unstable, it works as well as any other Ripper software that is on the market.

The Moderators will divert anyone you try to help to download commercial (not free open source software)  MakeMKV or AnyDVD. AnyDVD has its own issues and went through an ownership change that left previous users stuck with a version that no longer gets any updates, worse than that it only works on Windows which renders it useless for us.

MakeMKV does work but has its own issues that makes new users just through a lot of hoops to make it work for them. First of all, its expensive commercial software that is in BETA, its not even a stable released production version. You can download a 30 day trial but trust me, its a real pain when you go to process a disc that your two year old grabbed a hold of and try to make a backup copy before the use it as a sled across the concrete sidewalk, and find that MakeMKV won’t run.

Of course that means that MakeMKV’s (and many other) forums are flooding with help requests that the Handbrake Moderators are not providing support for, so they really don’t care that their users are having problems elsewhere.

The next problem is that Handbrake is not automatic, you have to sit there and wait until MakeMKV scans the disc (it takes a while), then it offers a list of titles that you have to figure out which is the correct one to select. There is no obvious sign, no clues, no preview windows to help you out. The majority of the support forums online will tell you to select the largest titles (sizes are easily visible) but sometimes there are multiple titles with the same size and sometimes the largest one is not the correct one, so its very hot and miss.

Then you have to select the title you want, if you are using the Mac version of MakeMKV then there is an old bug where the title that you select will deselect itself and all the other titles get selected (this happens immediately) so you have to manually reverse all those checkmarks, which can take time and become tedious if there are 99 titles to deal with.

Then you start the software and again wait for processing to complete. This is where the next wave of user support complaints shows up all across the web, complaints that the Handbrake Moderators once again are not involved nor could be bothered to help with because the resultant movie file is in the .MKV format which 99.9% of users around the world have no experience with and just do not know what it is.

This resultant .MKV file is gigantic, because its its a direct copy of what was on the disc (typically 4 to 9 GB for DVDs or 25 to 50 GB for Blu-rays) so they take up gigantic space on your drive. Now the average user has no choice but to scramble and find out that they have to go back to Handbrake to make an MPEG4 file that is playable on all their devices, so now they have to wait once again while Handbrake takes its turn to process that massive file for you.

Once this is done, most users forget to go back and delete the massive .MKV files that get left behind, so users commonly experience a panic when their hard drive is full.

Thats a lot of work that the Handbrake moderators want you to go through, just so they keep their little secret. Its just not right that they oppress us, especially on an open source forum, which we expect to be free to help each other on, its also a form of lying in no small part to tell people that the feature doesn’t work, it does, to tell people that its unstable, its very stable and to tell users that its unsupported, its is, just not by the Handbrake Moderators (shame on them), its actually support by the many experienced users that actually use that feature and reach out to others to lend then a helping hand. That is truly what open source software is all about.





Blackstone’s Formulation

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” William Blackstone

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