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To keep your VHS memories, you deserve to transfer the tapes to digital video clip files on your computer.

You are watching: How do i transfer vhs tapes to my computer


Time stops for no one, and for no technology. There to be a time when you more than likely preserved household memories by saving them to videotape, however videotape is now totally obsolete. If you’re favor a lot of people, you have a cabinet full of VHS tapes however haven’t had actually a VCR come play them on in 10 years or more. And while it’s possible to convert VHS come digital, don’t wait too lengthy to actually carry out that. Eventually, the components of her old tapes will certainly be unable to do forever, since the video clip stored on VHS degradation by as much as 20% every 10-25 years.

Even if your grandkids’ robot butler will certainly someday be able to 3D print a VCR indigenous archival blueprints that 20th century consumer electronics, by then her old tapes might be also fuzzy for them to watch.

If you desire to maintain your family members VHS tapes as video files on your computer hard drive, you can do it without lot trouble; you just need to assemble a couple of components. Native there, girlfriend can transform the videos nearly effortlessly end the course of a couple of lazy weekends.

But remember: The clock is ticking. With every year that go by, your videotape arsenal degrades a tiny more. If friend haven’t seen a videotape in a while, you might be shocked by just how low the quality is compared to video clip from a smartphone or digital camera, and also your tape collection has actually probably currently lost 10-20% of its quality compared to the job it to be shot. So, don’t waste one more minute—here’s what you should know.


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What You’ll need to convert Your VHS come Digital

To transform your VHS tapes come digital, you’ll require four major components. We’ll walk over that list first, and also then you have the right to join us further down the short article once did you do it figured out and gathered whatever you need.

The Playback Medium: VCRs and Camcorders



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If friend didn"t store your VCR native the before Times, this is the trickiest component of the equation, due to the fact that it’s increasingly difficult to uncover a functioning VCR. VCRs room no longer manufactured and finding one new-in-box is vanishingly rare (and relatively expensive, if you space lucky sufficient to uncover one).

Consequently, your finest bet for finding a VCR is to buy one indigenous an online auction at eBay. Here, you have the right to browse a huge selection of supplied VCRs and pick one that, based on the photos and also description, looks most likely to work. They’ll every be used, and mostly from separation, personal, instance sellers—not refurbished or factory reconditioned—so you need to not be surprised if your an initial VCR acquisition is a bust and you need to return it because that a refund. If you persistent, though, you’ll land a VCR that functions well enough to play, rewind and eject tapes.




If you have mini-sized tapes (called VHS-C tapes), you might need a camcorder rather than a VCR. Over there are additionally adapters the let girlfriend insert those old VHS-C tapes right into an ordinary VCR.


VHS-C adapter

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Whatever you select to buy—camcorder, VCR or VHS-C adapter—be certain you check it right away as soon as you get it therefore you have plenty the time to paper a case with eBay or whatever site friend purchased it from because that a refund if needed. And constantly test a new acquisition through a tape friend don’t care about. That way, you don’t shed anything crucial if the VCR or camcorder destroys the very first tape friend insert.

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The video Converter

A video converter is what goes in between the VCR and also computer. The takes the analog video clip signal and converts it to a digital entry for your computer’s USB port.

Roxio straightforward VHS come DVD 3 Plus


Roxio straightforward VHS come DVD 3 Plus

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Roxio has remained in the service of video editing and conversion for countless years, and also the basic VHS come DVD 3 add to is a refined product that shows that expertise. The box contains a USB capture an equipment that associate to her PC’s USB port and also has inputs because that the VCR or camcorder’s analog calculation cables.

You additionally get Roxio’s capture software, which allows you compose the videos directly to DVD or to a video document on your tough drive and also includes a organize of editing options—you deserve to make fast edits, enhance color, include transitions and also even stabilize old video clip footage. Roxio consists of a pair of blank DVDs to get you started, however not the cables. You’ll need to administer those yourself.

VIDBOX video Conversion Suite


VIDBOX video Conversion Suite

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The VIDBOX video clip Conversion Suite consists of a capture machine that connects her computer’s USB port to the audio and video outputs ~ above the VCR or camcorder, and has support for both Mac and also PC. You additionally get every the cables you need—both USB and also RCA analog audio. (If you desire to use the slightly higher-quality S-video connection, you’ll require your very own S-video cable, though). The software has actually a friendly step-by-step magician for capturing your video to the tough drive or DVD, yet doesn’t offer much in the way of video editing to fine-tune your footage.

Elgato USB Analog video Capture


Elgato USB Analog video clip Capture

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Compatible v both PC and Mac, the Elgato video clip capture maker predictably plugs right into the computer’s USB port and also connects to her VCR or camcorder’s audio and video cables. It likewise supports S-video because that slightly far better image quality, yet the S-video cable isn’t included. Choose the others, the Elgato package has software that allows you save video clip from VHS come DVD or your difficult drive. As well as the ability to trim the beginning and end that the video, though, there room no editing capabilities here.

A computer system To procedure The Conversion


HP 15 Laptop

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Most contemporary computers, either laptop or desktop, are up come the job of conserving a video file from the USB port making use of the converters detailed earlier in this article. This HP 15 laptop is representative the what you need: one Intel main point i5 processor and 8GB RAM will certainly serve you well. In addition, be sure you have at the very least one easily accessible USB port and you’re prepared to rock.

Storage space For Safekeeping


Samsung 64GB USB 3.1 speed Drive

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You won’t require a lot of hard drive space—your videos will certainly consume around a gigabyte per hour the footage. Uneven you have a truly monstrous library, you deserve to probably to the right your whole family video clip library on a 32GB USB speed drive, or archive it in a cloud storage company like Dropbox. That provides you a the majority of options; you have the right to keep all your VHS movie on the same difficult drive as all your various other files, or put them top top a one-of-a-kind portable USB drive simply for those kinds of memories.

We introduce storing them through all your various other data files and also sync them with a cloud organization like Dropbox or OneDrive. That means they’re safely preserved for future generations.

How to convert VHS come Digital

Once you have all the facets on hand—video converter and computer with sufficient storage an are to transfer and also convert your an initial video—the process to transform your very first video is really straightforward. Remember, you must probably try this procedure with a test tape first, ensuring you don’t lose anything in the event that your equipment malfunctions.

Step 1: Follow the instructions that came through the video clip converter to download the software and any device drivers needed to prepare your computer for video converting.

attach the cables native the audio and video clip out ~ above the earlier of the VCR come your video clip converter. Johnson

Step 2: Place the VCR or camcorder and also computer close to one another and also then connect them via the video clip converter. You must run the RCA-style audio and video cables native the calculation of the VCR or camcorder come the entry jacks top top the video converter. These wires room usually color-coded to make certain you attach them properly; red and white room for stereotype audio and also yellow is for video.

Step 3: If you have a VCR or camcorder with an S-video output, that’ll create a slightly higher image high quality than the yellow analog video clip cable. It’s a great idea (but not essential) to attach the S-video cable rather of the yellow video cable.

The S-Video cable provides slightly far better image high quality if your VCR support it. Johnson

Step 4: Plug the converter right into your computer system using the USB cable.

Step 5: Insert a VHS tape and also rewind it.

A VCR, laptop and video clip converter all set to deliver videotapes come digital. Johnson

Step 6: Start the video converter software program on your computer and follow its accuse to begin the video capture process. You’ll most likely need to name your video project and also specify whereby you want to save the video clip file.

Step 7: When you’re ready, push Play ~ above the VCR and the proper Record button in the video software on your computer.

usage the software that came with the video clip converter to "record" the videotape come a digital file. Johnson

Step 8: The videotape will certainly play and also record in real time—in various other words, if you have a two-hour videotape, it’ll take it two hours to revolve it right into a digital video file.

Step 9: When that done, avoid recording ~ above the computer system and allow the software to conserve the file to a folder on your computer.

Tips and Tricks for Converting your VHS Tapes to Digital Video

Thankfully, converting your old VHS tapes is pretty simple once friend have everything you need—the video converter does all the difficult work. Yet here space a couple of tips and tricks to aid you maintain your videos:

You don’t require a TV. Together you most likely noticed, there’s no television listed in the points you need previously in this article. The VCR connects come your computer system via the video converter, and you’ll see the videotape beat on the computer system screen. So nothing waste any kind of time searching for a means to attach the old VCR come a new all-digital TV. even if you carry out no advanced editing come your video files, you need to trim them using the built-in trim device in the video clip conversion software. That’ll permit you remove static and video clip glitches from the very start and also end of each tape. Make certain you back up your converted videos. After ~ you save your converted videos come digital files, make sure they’re a part of her computer’s regular back-up or put a copy of lock in a cloud company like Dropbox or OneDrive. After friend go through all the problem of converting your videotapes, you wouldn’t desire to shed them come a failed hard drive or damaged computer. Don’t stroked nerves copying her videotapes to DVD. DVD is no a lot much better than VHS for permanent storage that your video clip collection. DVDs fail as the optical layer degrades end time. In general, DVD discs have a expectancy of somewhere in between 25 and 100 years. The bottom line: The best method to keep your videos is in computer storage, through a regular and reliable backup on one more physical difficult storage machine or in the cloud—preferably both.


I’m a an elderly editor at and also though I began out in brand-new Jersey, i am at this time living in Los Angeles. ~ college, I served in the Air pressure where i operated satellites, taught room operations and also performed room launch planning.

After that, I spent eight years together a content lead on the home windows team at Microsoft. Together a photographer, I have actually photographed wolf in their herbal environment; ns have likewise been a scuba instructor and co-hosted several podcasts that encompass Battlestar Recaptica and currently, Rick and also Dave control the Universe.

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I am the author of almost three dozen books around photography, mobile tech, and also more; I’ve even authored an interactive storybook because that kids. I have added to sites including CNET, computer World and Business Insider prior to joining the team in ~ Vetted.