You have 900 dvds and haven't ripped a single one of them yet? What have you been doing for the past 8-9 years?
Is there a way to just drag off the VIDEO_TS folder and use that?
No, you need to defeat the copy protection and other tricky things first.
After you have ripped the disc to a hard drive, Plex can play the resulting VIDEO_TS just fine, but, if you eventually plan to stream that video, you're probably better off ripping, then queuing up a bunch of those rips in Handbrake, then doing transcodes as a batch, letting it run overnight. It'll take you forever, though, since you have been asleep all this time, digitally speaking. Essentially transparent Handbrake presets for sd dvds were worked out years ago. If you might add all this video to iTunes at some point or might have iOS devices or Apple TVs down the road, best to transcode to the .m4v extension.
Going way back in time, most of us here used the exact same workflow to rip and transcode our dvds--you ripped with MacTheRipper and then transcoded with Handbrake. Then RipIt appeared on the scene, then blu-rays and MakeMKV. Now you have a plethora of good ripping and transcoding options, things like iVI in the Mac app store, for instance. I still use all of them, depending on the disc, its special features, subtitles, whether I know I want to watch it on an iPad, etc. Basically, there's no single easy and quick method that will suit everyone. MakeMKV works with standard dvds, so that might be a good place for you to start: MakeMKV will "rip," i.e. defeat the encryption on a commercial dvd (or blu-ray) and then extract the video and audio without any loss, resulting in an .mkv that can easily be watched with or served up by Plex. Keep that file as it is, or then decide to transcode it with Handbrake into a more iOS and iTunes compatible file.Edited by chefklc - 7/26/12 at 10:43am