Quite a lot of people want to download movies and their favorite TV shows directly from the internet, but not very many know where to start. This walkthrough will take you by the hand and lead you through every step, and by the end you'll be downloading movies in no time. Please note that this is for PC users. Mac users will actually have a much easier time performing these functions.
There are two methods by which you may view your movie. You can either watch the movies straight from your computer, or you can burn the movie to a DVD and watch it from your TV set as you would a regular DVD. Most people prefer the DVD method.
What You'll Need
Blank DVD's 8.5 GB
4.7 GB DVD's are good only for 1 hour shows and shorter movies. Buy the larger ones. The size will be clearly listed on the packaging; if in doubt ask the store clerk.
Most DVD Writers that are on the market today are inexpensive and cost less than two commercial DVD's. You may already have one on your computer if you have a newer machine check the front of your computer for the DVD logo. You may have been using one as a CD burner and not even know!
If you are purchasing new, and aren't familiar with the innards of a PC and installing drives, get an external DVD writer that you can just hook up with a USB port to your computer. Keep in mind that this option will cause your DVD's to copy a little slower, so you may want to pay someone to install an internal DVD writer if you care about how fast your DVD's will copy.
For a really fun touch, get a DVD writer with Lightscribe technology. Lightscribe allows you to literally burn an image into the face of the CD while you are copying it. It isn't a full color picture, rather more like an outline with the details of the picture, but the end result looks really cool.
DVD Burning Software
You will require software that will allow you to convert the files that you are downloading into a format that is readable by your home DVD player, so that you can just put it into your DVD and hit play without having to worry about the format that it is in. Often this software comes with DVD Writers, and is easy to both install and use.
Want to Skip Burning DVD's?
If your computer and television are reasonably close together, you can purchase an S Video or VGA cable to go between the two. This will allow you to set up your TV as a secondary monitor on your computer and watch movies from the comfort of your couch. You need a video card in your computer that will let you do this. Mine is an ATI Radeon Pro that I bought back in 2003. Most newer computers are already equipped for this. You also need plenty of disk space on your hard drive and a cordless keyboard and mouse won't hurt either. They will be acting in the place of a remote control. I do both and quite frankly decided that it wasn't worth the bother and moved to burning DVD's like the rest of the world.
More Disk space
If you don't already have a large hard drive, you will want to purchase a larger hard drive to store your movies before burning them to DVD. Until you can get more disk space, you will want to limit yourself to downloading a few movies at a time, burning them immediately when you do, and then erasing them from your hard drive. Keep in mind that you should always keep 1 Gigabyte free on your hard drive in order for Windows to run seamlessly on your PC. Anything less than a gigabyte of free disk space and you will find that your system performance degrades significantly.
The world has moved from using P2P programs like Limewire or Morpheus to using Torrents and programs like UseNext. Torrents are a way to break up the original file so that the entire file is never resident on any one computer. This allows for faster download times for everyone.
Install A Program
There are several equally good programs on the market which allow you to download movies; most are free, and may be downloaded from the recommended Movie Download site.
Downloading and installing is easy. Any of the movie download sites above give complete instructions on using the software. If the software is blocked because you are using either client at work, it is perhaps best to do this from home only.
It is also advisable to not download from work because it is quite likely that you will be detected by IT technicians; Movie downloads eat up a huge amount of bandwidth, something every company is trying to conserve today as internet hosting companies are coming up with reasons to charge for bandwidth use.
Search a Movie Website
Now we come to the part where you actually find the files that you want. Even with all of my tech savvy, I was stumped at this point initially because I was used to the environment of the peer-to-peer programs like Napster, where you could search within the software. With movie download sites you can do this. It gets a little confusing sometimes but the movie download sites will give you step by step directions. You need to login to your download site to search for what you want.
It works just like any other site that you search on, plug in your desired movie title and it will give you results.
A Word on Formats
Make sure that the file that you choose is in a format that is friendly for DVD conversion if that is your end goal; just to refresh, DVD conversion is getting it to play in your home DVD player.
When referring to formats, what you are going to need to look for is the File Extension, or the three letters preceded by a period at the end of the file. For example, a Microsoft Word document has .doc as its file extension.
Formats like .mkv are not going to translate well to DVD. You want to look for an .avi file or an .mpg file. AVI files are the most common.
If all you can download is a less common format like .mkv, you will probably have to watch the movie on your computer.
Downloading Your Movie
You will then get a window popping up which asks you which components of the download you wish to initiate. If it is just one file, click OK. This is a great way to browse for the stuff that you want or don't want, as the case may be with larger packages such as entire TV series. Specify the folder that you wish to download to. Once you click OK, the torrent software that you installed earlier will do the rest of the work.
Copying Your Movie
This is generally just a question of opening your DVD writing software, following the prompts, and popping your DVD into the drive. Here are a couple of helpful tips;
Make Sure you Choose DVD
Most DVD burning software will give you the choice of making a data CD or making a DVD for use in your DVD player. Make sure you choose DVD.
Don't Save an Image on Your Computer
Most DVD burning software will also give you the option to save the finished file on your computer. I would advise against this unless you have purchased a 500 gig hard drive; it will eat up tons of disk space just to have it as a backup. If you have the room, you will want to say yes to the option of keeping the original file just in case something goes wrong with the burning process, but this can be deleted after you have successfully burned the DVD.
Make Sure the DVD is 8.5 Gigs
This is very important. If you went out and bought smaller DVD's against that earlier advice, here is where you are going to run into problems. Most DVD burning software will allow you to split up the movie into two halves, but this is choppy and will inevitably end up in the loss or repetition of a portion of the movie.
Bad Disc - Troubleshooting
While this is usually a simple process, sometimes the DVD's don't work in the DVD player. There are a few reasons for this.
Cheap DVD Player
If you purchased an inexpensive DVD Player, this is where it is going to start to show. If you have rented DVD's from the store and they haven't played, it is almost a guarantee that the discs made by your computer will not function 100% of the time in your DVD player. The only way to really combat this is to get a new, better quality DVD player.
Check Your Settings
Make sure that you didn't just make a direct copy of the file; make sure that it made a proper DVD copy. Pop the DVD back into your computer to check that it has indeed been converted to a different format. The file on the DVD shouldn't be just one file, it should have been separated into different files that you won't recognize. If it is simply a data DVD, pop another one in and be sure to choose the DVD rather than data option.
Otherwise, enjoy your new movie watching freedom! You are now in complete control of what you watch. It's a great feeling! Go to the website and select an inexpensive membership. You can select yearly or lifetime. Lifetime is the best buy because it lets you download as many movies as you want year after year.
-if you are considering the purchase of a new computer, get one with a larger hard drive and a built-in DVD writer. If you want to make copies of your DVD's, you may want two DVD writers for faster copies.