Reminiscences have a lifespan. That’s why we do our greatest to seize essentially the most valuable moments, from births to graduations, by way of photograph and video. When it comes to growing old, outdated photographs are fairly simple to digitize. Scan, add, and retailer in your pc, thumb drive, or the cloud. However, digitizing outdated video is usually a bit tougher, a minimum of in relation to footage captured on the all-but-dead medium referred to as Video Residence System, aka VHS.

The format was by no means supposed to final eternally and degrades over time. In case your valuable house movies managed to outlive to date, chances are you’ll need to salvage the footage earlier than time takes its toll. Changing well-worn movies won’t ever be flawless — the slightest hiccup can interrupt the switch sign — however it may be achieved on a modest price range with a number of primary instruments.

Under, we’ll present you the way to save lots of your moments digitally on a number of codecs, together with DVD, Blu-ray, or digital file. Should you’re simply too busy, we’ve additionally acquired a record of the varied VHS conversion companies, together with pricing, that will help you protect that 20-year-old footage of you bailing in your first bike. If not for you, do it for posterity’s sake.

Disclaimer: It’s unlawful to supply copies of economic movies and copyrighted content material, however there are not any restrictions on copying house movies. Plus, you’ll be able to normally choose up a used copy of Prime Gun or The Breakfast Membership on-line for subsequent to nothing. 

Retail VHS-to-DVD conversion companies

For many who’d quite forgo the technical hands-on course of, many big-name retail companies supply VHS-to-DVD (and in some circumstances VHS-to-digital) conversion companies by way of their photograph departments. Shops like Costco, CVS, Walmart, and Sam’s Membership supply video conversion, and plenty of of them use the identical firm for his or her conversion: YesVideo. Should you head to the YesVideo web site, you’ll discover conversion companies ranging from $26 per tape for the primary two hours, after which a further $26 for each two extra hours of changing. However the value you pay at Walmart or Goal might be decrease. These costs have been trending upward in recent times, so should you’ve been ready to get your tapes transformed, you may need to get on it.

Obtainable switch codecs embody every little thing from VHS to Betamax, and most companies will can help you switch as much as two tapes to a single DVD earlier than charging you further. Alternatively, there are a few nice web sites that supply the identical service for a extra inexpensive value should you really feel snug transport the VHS tapes your self.

Firms like Legacy Field supply comparable companies. Merely mail your VHS tapes in, they usually’ll offer you DVDs, downloadable digital recordsdata, or a thumb drive crammed with your entire reminiscences, plus the unique tapes in return. Costs begin at $59, which incorporates conversion of two tapes.

Utilizing a VHS-DVD combo or separate VCR and DVD burner

Should you’ve acquired a ton of movies to switch, chances are you’ll need to tackle the job your self to avoid wasting inexperienced. One of the simplest ways to transform by yourself is with a VHS-DVD mixture participant/recorder. In the present day, these are outdated and will be exhausting to search out. You’ll find dinosaur fashions on-line should you look exhausting sufficient — strive looking “combo deck” or “VHS DVD recorder” on websites like Amazon or eBay, and even Craigslist — however these will usually run you $100 or extra (and take eternally to ship), so it’ll solely be value it should you’ve acquired a large tape assortment.

You may also purchase the gadgets you’ll want piecemeal. Should you don’t have already got a VCR, you may be capable of discover one on-line for round $70 to 100, however once more, it’s not the simplest process. You possibly can strive wanting on Amazon (most choices there can be secondhand), however chances are you’ll have to resort to eBay and even your native Craigslist, although we suggest warning should you go these routes — at all times make certain your eBay vendor has excessive overview scores earlier than continuing. Then you definately’ll want a stand-alone DVD recorder, which will also be a problem to search out nowadays. Securing one will seemingly require the identical strategies outlined above.

When you’ve acquired the products, you’ll be able to hook up the DVD participant to the VCR by plugging an RCA audio/video cable from the VCR’s RCA output to the DVD participant’s RCA enter. On some fashions, you may want an RCA-to-HDMI converter to attach the 2. That is basically the identical course of you’ll want to make use of with an older video digital camera that makes use of tapes — merely join the digital camera’s output to the DVD recorder by way of the RCA cable or, if obligatory, the RCA-to-HDMI converter we simply talked about. With a combo participant, after all, the method is easier.

Subsequent is the switch course of. Pop a tape into the VCR and a clean DVD+R or DVD+RW (some models solely settle for considered one of these codecs, so double-check that) into the DVD participant, then start the switch course of. The strategy differs between fashions, however it needs to be comparatively simple. Chances are you’ll have to comply with the producer’s directions, however most manuals will be discovered by way of a Google search in case your elements didn’t include them.

Professional tip: It’s at all times sensible to scrub your gear and the tapes you’ll be transferring. The efficacy of various cleansing strategies is some extent of competition, however the easiest way is to open the cassette encasing and thoroughly take away any seen mud or grime utilizing a mushy fabric or cotton swab. You may also contemplate cleansing your VCR’s heads through the use of a VHS head cleaner.

Transferring to DVD, Blu-ray, or digital file on Home windows and Mac

Panasonic DMP-BD91 BD blu-ray player tray

This course of is extra concerned and requires a number of extra supplies, however it has its advantages. Particularly, you’ll be capable of switch your tapes immediately from a VCR into digital recordsdata versus one other bodily format, permitting you to protect them on a tough drive and even within the cloud. You possibly can then copy and save the recordsdata wherever you’d like, and switch them to DVDs or Blu-rays.

Assuming you’ve already acquired a VCR, step one is to purchase a digital-to-analog converter should you don’t have entry to at least one. There are lots of fashions on the market, however fashions such because the UCEC USB Video Audio Seize Card are made particularly with VHS transferring in thoughts.


When you’ve acquired one, join the digital-to-analog adapter to your pc and your VCR or digital camera. Most adapters include software program that walks you thru the complete switch course of, together with importing the ensuing footage right into a extra complete video editor or burning straight to DVD. Discuss with the set up disc, instruction guide, or producer’s web site for extra data on putting in the software program and downloading the required drivers.

As with the earlier technique, we recommend giving your tape and VCR a glance over to ensure every is clear. Particles on the tape could cause blemishes within the video through the switch, whereas soiled heads can damage the complete challenge.

Now for the principle occasion. Insert the tape into your VCR, and a clean DVD or Blu-ray into your pc (or exterior participant/burner). The precise steps for conversion range relying on which gadget and what software program you’re utilizing for video seize. Recording and digitizing will occur in actual time, that means you’ll should painstakingly sit by way of the complete size of footage (or go do one thing else for some time) earlier than you’ll be able to end up the challenge. As soon as it’s achieved, nevertheless, the contents can be eternally preserved in digital format.


At this level, if all you needed was the digital file, you’re achieved; you’ll be able to edit, transfer, and identify the file as you need. Should you’re planning on burning the file to a DVD or Blu-ray, after all, you’ve acquired one other step to go. Most conversion software program may have an choice for burning a DVD or Blu-ray upon completion of transferring the footage. If not, find the ensuing file in your pc and open it in iMovie, Home windows Film Maker, VLC, or the same program that may burn your footage to DVD. (You may also use these applications to edit the size of your movies.) The burning course of will range relying on what software program you select, so seek the advice of directions for additional clarification.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to strive utilizing a direct digital conversion instrument to simply copy VHS footage immediately onto a microSD card for digital use. Bear in mind, although — you may want further cables and a much bigger SD card (strive 64GB).

VHS to Blu-ray

Just remember to have the suitable toolset to transform VHS to Blu-ray utilizing a PC, particularly, a pc with a Blu-ray writable drive and third-party software program. In case your PC doesn’t have a built-in drive, you have to an exterior drive. To economize, we suggest utilizing the free albeit outdated program ImgBurn for home windows customers. The choice is paying for a non-free choice like Opencloner or BurnAware. For Mac, we favor Leawo Blu-ray Creator for its ease of use. 

Until the content material in query has private worth, we warn you that changing VHS and different tapes could also be a misplaced trigger. VHS image high quality tends to be poor, so your conversion gained’t obtain a lot in upgrading the viewing expertise. Needless to say Blu-ray gamers and writers usually work for DVDs, too, so that you don’t essentially have to waste your cash there.

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