Saving files from hard to read optical discs - the case of an old set of Éiriú-Eolas DVD/CDs


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Some years ago, I bought the Éiriú-Eolas DVD/CD set, but then after some time I discovered two of the three discs had a problem somewhere, so I kind of lost interest in using them, which was not a big problem, as the video can be found online, and I did have the audio, which is what I used the most. The only difference was that the Danish subtitles did not make it until the present online version, but it is on the DVD set.

Yesterday I took a look at the discs again to see what could be salvaged, and the results were encouraging. Below I share some steps from the process. To begin with, the three discs in the set are:
Audio disc

First I played them and found the discs got stuck at places. No amount of soap water, clean water or alcohol (I tried the one for polishing mirrors) made a difference and neither Windows Media Player or the VLC player could eliminate the challenge. Then I tried to copy them to files on a USB and that went quite well except, again, for a couple of files where the programmes continued to freeze. One time I succeed, by simply trying again, that is copy paste unto the same folder where most had worked, but still that did not work for all issues. Then I moved the discs onto another computer where I had recently installed Linux, besides it also had a different DVD player. Eventually I could assemble all the files in a readable format, but how to play them?

In a DVD player, it is usually just enter disc and click the application that plays the DVD. One does not worry about playing files one by one.
In ee1 there were the files listed in the image below contained in a folder called VIDEO_TS:
Above one notices the extensions BUP, IOF and VOB. On a Russian website they explain:
If you take any standard DVD, when you open it, you will find two folders -AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS.
About the VIDEO_TS folder, the website explains:
Inside are various files with BUP, IFO, and VOB extensions. What are these files?

IFO files are disk information files, they "know" what is in the VOB files and maintain the order in which they are started.

BUP-a backup file of the IFO file (for backup purposes). Note that each IFO file corresponds to a BUP file of the same size.

VOB - main DVD files that contain information about video, audio, and titles
From experimentation I found that the IFO was not associated with a known programme and for the .VOB files It turned out that: VIDEO_TS.VOB, VTS_01_0.VOB, VTS_02_0.VOB did not play nicely with VLC. I looked up the problem and decided to associate .IFO with the VLC player, as can be seen in the image above taken after association with VLC. Maybe you have another app, but the way to associate the IFO file with an app if it is unassociated like the BUP file above is in Windows if you have not tried it: "1. Right-clicking the file/image and selecting "Open with" -> "Choose another app" ->"VLC or similar media player" ->"Always use this app to open 'IFO' files" The explanation was adapted from this source.

It appears that VTS_TS.IFO, and VTS_01_0.IFO are similar, just as VTS_02_0.IFO is similar, but still larger. I don't understand why, but somehow, if I now play the video with VLC by clicking the IFO files, then all is well. The menu opens using the 0.VOB files, and one can play the Introduction and later the Practice section. In ee2, the second disc, there is a similar structure, but simpler, and now that the IFO is associated with VLC, it plays too. The next question is of course to find out if there are anyone interested in watching with the recovered subtitles. We will see.

Below: A few less important details about where I found the Danish subtitles, in case somebody would like to find the track number where the language they are looking for is hidden.
In the VLC Player menu there is an item called Title, under that there is DVD Menu, Title 1 and Title 2
The VIDEO_TS.VOB, VTS_01_0.VOB, and VTS_02_0.VOB are the basic menu files

If one in VIDEO_TS.IFO chooses "Danish" I found later under the subtitle menu in VLC, that it played under "French". Perhaps this is due to a new version of VLC, or that it was adjusted for a different player, or some other peculiarity. It is of no importance, if one just uses the IFO files, that opens up the VOB menu files and one selects the language one needs. The rest is automatic.

Title 1: This is the introduction and lecture by Laura:
VTS_01_1.VOB has the first 21:53 of the introduction.
Danish is track 25 and 26, but this is only noticed if one plays this file alone.
VTS_01_2.VOB covers from 21:53 to 42:16.
Danish is track 1 and 2, but this is only noticed if one plays this file alone.

Title 2: Practice This is the part with the physical exercises.
VTS_02_0.IFO works. Select the last item in the menu: "Practice" In the new menu click "Play" If you only select the subtitles after, note that they may not correspond to what is listed.
VTS_02_1.VOB Plays until 21:48
Danish is on track 25 and 26, but this is only noticed if one plays this file alone.
VTS_02_2.VOB Plays from 21:48 to 29:05
Danish is on track 11 and 12, but this is only noticed if one plays this file alone.

If you have a similar problem, and the discs are not impossible, perhaps it is worth considering saving the information. Besides, there is the reality that many modern computers do not have a DVD drive, most is now played from a USB or streamed from the cloud. DVDs are becoming history.
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