Increase DVD Ripping Speed by Removing “Riplock”

| MGG Answers

Question:

Darren writes: I just bought a new iMac and I decided to test out my new computer’s performance by encoding a DVD with Handbrake. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that my new iMac is significantly slower at ripping and encoding a DVD than my 2008 MacBook Pro! 

After testing various scenarios, I found that encoding a file from the iMac’s hard drive is much faster. Do I have a bad DVD drive? What can I do?

Answer:

The problem you’re facing is likely caused by a DVD firmware “feature” called Riplock. Officially intended to reduce the transfer speed of a DVD video disc for the purpose of reducing noise and extending the life of the drive, the feature has the (perhaps intended) side-effect of drastically reducing the rip speed of a DVD video disc for the purpose of re-encoding it into a digital file.

Most new DVD drives, including those incorporated into Apple computers, include the Riplock feature. However, there is a way to remove it by flashing your DVD drive’s firmware with modified firmware designed to remove Riplock. Unfortunately, modified firmware is not available for all DVD drives so you’ll have to check your drive to see if you qualify.

First, use System Profiler (“System Information” in Lion) to determine the exact make and model of your DVD drive. To do this, hold down the Option key and click the Apple Menu in your menu bar. Select “System Profiler” or “System Information” if you have Lion.

OS X System Information

Use OS X’s System Profiler/Information to Determine the Make and Model of Your Mac’s DVD Drive.

Next, from the list on the left, choose “Disc Burning” to view your Mac’s optical drive configuration. In the example shown, the Mac has the Optiarc DVD RW AD-5690H DVD drive.

Now head over to The Firmware Page, which lists available modded firmware for a multitude of drives. Searching through their forums leads us to Liggy’s and Dee’s Modified Firmware page, where we find updated firmware for our drive.

Using the binflash utility found under “Links,” you can manipulate your drive’s firmware and update to the modified version you just downloaded. The process shown in the screenshots below will be slightly different depending on your specific DVD drive.

Step 1: Use the “-scan” option at the command line both to confirm the drive Model as well as get the Device ID. You’ll need this Device ID for the remaining steps. The command is:

./necflash -scan

In this case, the Device ID shows up as “A:”. Note that we’re using the command “necflash” but you may wind up using something called “binflash” — they’re essentially the same, just different depending on the build and the name of the binary. If you downloaded something called “binflash” just substitute that for “necflash” in all the examples.

Riplock Firmware Flash

Step 2: Save a copy of your drive’s exising firmware by “dumping” it to your hard drive. For this example, the command is

./necflash -dump OrigFirmware.bin A:

That will save it in the current directory as “OrigFirmware.bin” just in case you need that to roll things back to their original state.

Riplock Firmware Flash

Step 3: Now you’re ready to flash the firwmare you downloaded onto your drive (note: you may need something like Stuffit Expander to extract the individual firmware files from a downloaded archive). For this example, we’ve chosen the “_fast” version of the firmware because our download instructions indicated that was the one to use to remove Riplock. That command is:

./necflash -flash 4ah5_fast.bin A:

This tells the necflash utility to flash the device called, “A:” with the 4ah5_fast.bin firmware file.

Riplock Firmware Flash

And that does it! For many users who have compatible DVD drives, this will successfully remove Riplock from your drive and drastically increase the speed of DVD video rips (we saw an increase from about 85 fps to 135 fps). However, it will also increase the noise level of the drive and may decrease the drive’s life so use these instructions at your own risk.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a drive with firmware that has not yet been updated, continue to check The Firmware Page and other resources periodically as new drives are frequently added.

This question was originally answered on MGG 375: Tips on Dock, Resume, AppleCare, Gmail, Ripping, & More

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8 Comments Leave Your Own

archimedes

Wow, custom DVD drive firmware.
Will this also remove the annoying “region coding” feature?

b9bot

How do you get to the correct directory to search for ./necflash?
I get no directory found when I type ./necflash -scan.
Where would necflash be located in terminal?
When I open binflash it opens and logs out says Process completed, so I can’t use any of the commands.
Can anyone clear this up in so someone without much command line experience can do this please?
So far none of this works as the article says.

Dave Hamilton

The command will either be called “binflash” or “necflash”—in order to run it, make sure you’re IN the directory that contains the command binary and then use the ./ syntax as indicated, either:

./necflash [options]
./binflash [options]

You’ll need to use the Terminal’s “cd” command to change to the directory of the folder containing the utility. For me in this example, I made a directory in my Downloads folder called “optiarc”—If you did the same thing, then the following command would get you there:

cd ~/Downloads/optiarc

Once there, assuming binflash (or necflash) is in there, the aforementioned commands should work.

ALL that said, this process is completely unsupported and *will* likely void your warranty. If you’re not comfortable with the command line I really don’t recommend doing it. There are some things that are fine from Terminal, but things like this that make permanent hardware modifications and are easy to screw up are not something I’d recommend for a Terminal novice. Unfortunately there is no GUI utility that we’ve found for doing this.

b9bot

First you have to install it which is why the directory was not found.
This is the step that was missing on the website instructions. See below.

sh-3.2# install necflash
usage: install [-bCcpSsv] [-B suffix] [-f flags] [-g group] [-m mode]
          [-o owner] file1 file2
    install [-bCcpSsv] [-B suffix] [-f flags] [-g group] [-m mode]
          [-o owner] file1 ... fileN directory
    install -d [-v] [-g group] [-m mode] [-o owner] directory ...
sh-3.2# ./necflash -scan
Binflash - NEC version - (C) by Liggy and Herrie
Visit http://binflash.cdfreaks.com

List of supported devices:

Device   : B:
Vendor   : OPTIARC
Model   : DVD RW AD-5680H
Firmware : 3AHB
sh-3.2#

b9bot

To install the new flash, the easy way is to drag the new firmware file to the end of the command
./necflash -flash (here) and then finish with the drive location in my case B:

It worked! Also you have to restart your Mac to see the new firmware in the system profiler.

Dave Hamilton

First you have to install it which is why the directory was not found.

Installation was not necessary for us here. I simply downloaded the pre-compiled Mac OS X binary of necflash from http://binflash.cdfreaks.com/#download and it worked perfectly. No “install” command necessary.

Ross Edwards

The iMac optical drive is non-removable, and that to me is a sign that any wear that can be avoided on it probably ought to be avoided.  It makes far more sense to buy an el-cheapo external blu-ray drive and use that for ripping, rather that risking burning out your iMac’s built-in drive with a firmware mod to run it at a higher speed.  The ripping speeds of external BDRs/BDRWs are excellent, and you get the added bonus of being able to rip HD blu-ray content instead of just DVDs.  Just use MakeMKV and encode with Handbrake.  It’s really very easy now.

Danny

I flashes my firmware because I needed a region free dvd player.
But is it true that I need to choose the region, everytime I insert a DVD from a different region?

Thanks

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