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How to Convert VHS to Digital and DVD (DIY Guide)

Video Home System (VHS) tapes used to be the standard media format for all things video. From films and television shows to home movies, everyone relied heavily on the VHS format. However, as time went by and modern technology started to take over, VHS went largely out of style. Nowadays, almost nobody owns a VHS player anymore. They’ve simply gone obsolete. However, if you’re one of those people who saved your VHS tapes and now want to modernize them for easy accessibility, there are some ways you can convert VHS to digital formats.

 

What to Consider When You Convert VHS to Digital

Converting VHS To Digital
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You must remember that VHS tapes and players are a thing of the past. That means they’re not as advanced and easy to transfer compared to today’s media formats. So, before you convert VHS to digital, you must take note of the added equipment and tools you will need.

 

VHS Tapes

First of all, you will obviously need the old VHS copies that you wish to convert to digital. You can’t do anything if there’s nothing to convert. Additionally, you must make sure that your old VHS tapes are, at least, functional. The conversion process will require you to play your VHS tape. Therefore, if it doesn’t play anymore, then you’re probably out of luck.

 

Equipment

VHS player
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Furthermore, you will need the help of some hardware and software. You need a standard VHS player. You can use your old one if it’s still functional. Alternatively, you can buy one online. Most of the VHS players you can find online are used, but that shouldn’t be a problem considering your purpose.

Apart from a VHS player, you will also need a converter. This type of converter has three plugs (for the VHS player) on one end and a USB plug on the other. You will also require the help of conversion software, which usually comes with the converter as well as a copy of instructions.

 

Time and Money

Depending on how many VHS tapes you intend to convert, you must also set aside enough time. Perhaps an entire afternoon will work. However, it really varies and relies on the number of VHS tapes (and their duration) you want to transform digitally. 

When you convert VHS to digital, you will obviously need to invest a lot of time and money into the endeavor. For most people, the conversion is a one-time action. Therefore, you can always re-sell the hardware and software either on eBay, Craigslist, or other websites.

 

Professional Help

convert VHS to digital companies
© Photo by Costco

If you don’t have the luxury of time or would rather pay someone else to convert VHS to digital or DVD, there are plenty of companies that offer this service. All you need to do is bring all the VHS tapes you want to convert and pay a sum of cash. Companies that offer this service include Walmart, Target, Costco, and CVS. You can even find some local electronics stores providing this type of service.

Although most of these companies use the same service (YesVideo) for conversions, it’s important for you to know that YesVideo typically charges a higher fee if you go to them directly. As such, it’s best to simply make use of the services at your nearby retail giant.

Additionally, you must know that the prices for VHS conversion have been increasing over time, especially as more new technology emerges. So, if you have some old VHS tapes you want to save, now is the time to convert them.

Seeking professional help is always a good option, particularly if you can’t be bothered to do it yourself. After all, the process of converting VHS to DVD or digital can be cumbersome and confusing.

 

Will the Quality Deteriorate When Converting?

It’s worth noting that VHS tapes are from a totally different time. Therefore, the quality of VHS videos is characteristically poorer. If you haven’t viewed your old tapes in a long time, you may find yourself surprised at the significant difference in audio and video quality compared to modern-day files.

Although some software programs do attempt to enhance the quality of VHS videos when converting them, they don’t always work. And, when they do, the difference isn’t that noticeable. When you start with poor quality from the beginning, there’s little to no chance of it improving with conversion software.

One thing you can be certain of, though, is that the audio and video quality of the tape will not deteriorate when you convert it. More advanced technology has made sure of that. So, if you’re worried about a resulting low-quality file when you convert VHS to digital, your worries are ungrounded. You can rest assured knowing that the conversion process will not lower the quality of your tapes even further.

 

How to Convert VHS to Digital

The first thing you need to do is clean your old VHS tapes. Any dirt or dust that has gathered through the passage of time must be removed. This way, you can ensure none of the dust enters the inside part when you play it. You should also make sure the spindles are working well. If they’ve seized up, manually turn them to get it started before placing it inside the VHS player.

 

Convert VHS to DVD

VHS DVD combo player
© Photo by Amazon

To convert your VHS to DVD, you will need to buy a VHS/DVD combo player. You will find a number of these being sold online, with some even offering them secondhand for a cheaper price. If you don’t plan on using the combo player for anything other than conversion, then a secondhand player is a good option. This type of combo player will allow you to rip the VHS file and convert it straight to DVD with a single machine.

vhs to digital converter
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Another way is to use an analog converter for your computer. You can usually find analog converters online or at your local electronic store. Additionally, you must make sure your Mac or PC has a DVD drive. If it doesn’t, then you will need a separate DVD drive attachment. For this method, you will need to plug the USB side of the analog converter into your computer. Then, plug the three other plugs into your VHS player, matching the color for each plug. 

VHS DVD combo cable ports
© Photo by Amazon

On your computer, install the software (this usually comes with the analog converter). Place your old VHS tape into the player. Adjust the settings according to your wishes and set the destination folder for the ripped video on your computer. After that, you can convert the VHS tape in its entirety or select which parts to convert.

 

Convert VHS to Blu-Ray

© Photo by t:marietjieopp on iStock Photo

The steps for converting VHS to Blu-ray remain largely the same as the steps for converting VHS to DVD. After all, the only real difference between DVDs and Blu-ray CDs is the quality of audio and video files. Blu-ray discs are known for their larger storage, which in turn, influences the audio and video quality.

To convert VHS to Blu-ray, all you need to do is follow the same process for converting VHS to DVD or digital. All you need to do is replace the DVD disc with a Blu-ray disc instead. This will allow you to store your old VHS videos on Blu-ray. Keep in mind, though, that since VHS videos are naturally poorer in audio and video quality, transferring them to a Blu-ray disc will not improve this aspect.

 

Convert VHS to Digital File on PC

If you want to convert VHS to digital, all you need is your VHS player, your computer, the appropriate hardware, and the necessary software. You can usually buy the hardware (along with its accompanying software) online or at your local electronics store. Some software programs have a feature that can improve video quality, though there’s no guarantee of this working. VHS tapes are, after all, inherently low-quality since they’re from a different time.

Once you have everything you need, follow the instructions below:

convert VHS to digital using computer
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  • Plug your VHS player into your PC using the hardware (converter). The USB portion goes with your computer, while the other three cables go with your VHS player. Make sure to match the colors when you connect them.
  • Place your old VHS tape in the VHS player.
  • Play your VHS tape from the point you want to digitize and start the recording software on your computer.
  • Once you’ve reached the endpoint (or the point you want to finish), pause the VHS tape, and stop the recording software on your computer.

 

You can then save this file to the destination folder of your choosing. Alternatively, you can burn this video file straight to a CD or DVD with the help of a burner. Not all computers come equipped with this feature, though, especially newer ones. Therefore, you may need additional hardware and software for this step.

 

Start Saving Your Memories

Home videos are always a great source of nostalgia and joy. Unfortunately, with old media rapidly dying out, you may not be able to enjoy your old VHS tapes in a few years. Save your memories with the help of VHS conversion. You can either go down to your local Walmart or Costco for the job or take a DIY approach. Just remember, when you convert VHS to digital or DVD, you need time, some necessary hardware and software, and patience.

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