How To Digitize Your VHS Tapes

From the VHS to DVD, recording systems have taken a great leap in the past few years. This giant leap for mankind left years of priceless memories trapped inside your old VHS tapes. If your VHS are still intact and survived the wrath of time, you have to be very cautious with them; unless you are deliberately trying to sabotage some embarrassing footage from your golden years... Tapes deteriorate with time and were not made to last forever. To save all those cherished moments and make them last a lifetime, you will have to invest some time and money to transfer your videotapes to DVDs.

Four VHS tapes sit in a square grid on a seamless background the color of orange sherbet. On the left is a vertical standard VHS tape in a white case. The white case has a blue, green, yellow orange and pink stripe across the middle. At the top is says "Polaroid" in black san-serif text. The rest of the box is filled with black technical copy. To its right is another black plastic standard VHS but this one lays horizontally and is not in a case. Two horizontal black plastic mini 8mm VHS tapes sit beneath the un-cased VHS. One has a turquoise spine and the other a bright red spine. These items are shot from an arial point of view.

There are three ways to go about converting your VHS tapes to DVDs depending on your budget, time, and patience:

Using a combo VHS/DVD player

The most straightforward method is to convert your VHS to DVDs using a combo player. Obviously, you will need to purchase the device if you don't have one. Don’t be frugal when choosing one, as the cheaper models might do a lot more harm than good by damaging your tapes and usually are not compatible with all tape formats. An all-in-one model that supports various tape sizes will cost about $200 or more. Before inserting the cassette, open the encasing and gently clean off the dust with a soft cloth. Insert both the VHS tape and an empty DVD into the combo player. Then hit the "record" button, and you should be good to go!

Connecting a VCR to a DVD recorder

A less direct but fairly simple way is to use a videocassette recorder connected to a DVD recorder using RCA cables. Just connect them according to the colors of the RCA cable and outputs on the back of your VHS and DVD recorder. Insert the cleaned VHS tape and a blank writable DVD, press play on the VCR and record simultaneously from the DVD recorder. Mission accomplished!

Converting VHS tapes using a computer

The last method is the most difficult as it takes a few extra steps. It requires an analog-to-digital adapter (which costs about $40), a VCR, a computer with a DVD burner and a DVD burning software. First, you need to connect the VCR to your computer using the adapter and insert a clean VHS tape into the VCR, and a blank DVD-R (or DVD-RW) into the DVD burner. Next, open your DVD burning software and follow the instruction to burn to the DVD. One of the big downsides of this method is that it requires a massive amount of space on your hard drive. Sometimes, 30 minutes of a VHS tape can necessitate up to 43GB! But, it lets you edit and cut out parts once uploaded to your computer, as opposed to the other methods.

On the left side of a wood plank table, a standard black plastic VHS tape lays on its back. On top of it sits a black 8mm tape with a bright red spine.  Cut off at the top of the frame is a medium size succulent in a red terra-cotta pot. To the left sits a kraft paper southtree DVD case with a white CD on top. The CD says, "Swim Team 1995". This whole scene is shot from an arial vantage point.

Or hire a professional…

If these methods sound too time-consuming, you might want to have someone else do it for you. For those of you who zoned out after the first method or just don’t want to buy all that equipment, Southtree has the answer. With our advanced technology, we can preserve and convert any format of tapes into Premium Mastered DVDs. We also offer different packages to suit any budget and preference. Our "Experience" package, even includes a digital copy, making your precious moments never-ending memories. All you have to do is to send your tapes and let us take great care of them!

Interested in trying out Southtree? Click the button below to get started today.

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