How To

Here are the best ways to transfer VHS tapes to the computer so they're saved forever

May 13th, 2019

If you grew up in the 70s, 80s, or early 90s, chances are you have watched a VHS tape or two. Widely used before the invention of the DVD, more recently VHS has taken a backseat to more modern technology, becoming obsolete.

A big reason for the replacement of VHS with DVD and Blu-ray discs is that VHS tapes can degrade over time and are more prone to breaking with repeated use. Many people who grew up with VHS technology do want to save all of those memories they have stored on VHS tapes.

Fortunately, through the wonders of modern technology they can transfer their precious memories to a computer, here’s how.

Gather What You Need

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Amazon Source: Amazon

Before you begin, you need to determine which of your VHS tapes you want to save to a computer hard drive. Once you’ve set aside the tapes you want to transfer, you need to gather all of the equipment needed for the transfer process. Items needed to transfer VHS footage to a computer include:

  • VHS player with an audio/video output
  • Computer (either a desktop or laptop)
  • External Hard Drive (if the one in your desktop or laptop is not large enough for the transferred information)
  • VHS tapes to be transferred
  • Adapter (contains the video transfer card and connectors to bridge the difference in technology between the VCR and the desktop or laptop)

Connect the VCR to a Computer

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YouTube/expertvillage Source: YouTube/expertvillage

Next, connect the VCR to the computer using the adapter. The adapter should have the audio/video connectors on one end and a USB or HDMI connection on the other end. The audio/video connections are color-coded yellow for video and red and white for audio. Also, connect the external hard drive, if you plan on using one, and get it set up.

Download the Adapter Software

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Amazon Source: Amazon

Once everything is connected, download the adapter software, which in the case of the YouTube video below is for the Elgato capture card. Without the software, the computer will not be able to translate the video signal into a format that it can then store within its electronic files.

Perform Initial Setup, Including Where You Want to Save the VHS Footage

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Medium Source: Medium

After the programming for the adapter is downloaded, start up the software to see if you need to make any additional setup before downloading the VHS tapes to the computer. Many times, the software itself will walk you through this initial setup process.

In addition, create a file where you want the transferred VHS footage to reside on your computer or external hard drive. Make sure to enter a file name that will allow you to remember what is in the file. You should also put it in a location within the files on the computer or external hard drive that you can easily remember when it comes time to retrieve the data.

Record the Footage to the Computer or External Hard Drive

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House Beautiful Source: House Beautiful

Once everything is ready, hit the record command within the program interface and then press play on the VCR. This should start the transfer process from the VCR to the computer or external hard drive file. There should be some kind of indicator to let you know that the data is being transferred from the VHS tape to the file location.

Allow the Footage to Play Through

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YouTube/Steven Schultz Source: YouTube/Steven Schultz

When transferring your VHS footage, keep in mind that you will have to let the video play through in real time as the information transfers from the tape to the file you have set up on the computer or external hard drive. If you stop the transfer at any time during the process, it could affect the quality of the data stored.

Save the Files

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FreeImages Source: FreeImages

After the VHS footage has been transferred to you computer or external hard drive, make sure to save it. Failure to do so could result in the data being lost and you having to do the process all over again. Here is a video showing you how the VHS video transferring process works.

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Source: C|Net