How to Digitise Old VHS Tapes and Convert Them to Video Files

While VHS has largely been replaced by digital videos, you may still have a few old VHS tapes lying around. Some of these may be home movies or other irreplaceable videos – in which case digitizing and converting them into video files would make it more convenient to watch them. 

Keep in mind that the quality of VHS tapes is much lower than most digital video available nowadays – and digitizing it won’t improve it. As such before you go any further you may want to try watching the VHS tape in question and decide whether or not you really want to convert it. 

Required Equipment 

If you want to digitize old VHS tapes and convert them into video files yourself, you’ll need several pieces of equipment. The first of these is a working VHS player – and you should try to play your VHS tape on it beforehand to make sure it checks out. 

It may help to clean the VHS player that you’re using as well as the VHS tape itself to avoid any complications. 

Next, you’ll need an analogue converter (sometimes known as a USB video capture) so that you can connect the VHS player to your PC or Mac. Typically analogue converters have a USB connection that you can plug into your computer, and video cables on the other end that you can connect to your VHS player. 

Last but not least you’ll need software that will let you capture and convert VHS to digital, such as Movavi Video Editor. Some analogue converters include their own software that can be used to capture video as well. 

How to Start Digitizing a VHS Tape 

 Assuming you have everything you need, you can digitize a VHS tape in a few simple steps: 

  1.  Set up the analogue converter by plugging the video cables into the VHS player and the USB to your computer. 
  2. Launch the capture software that you’re using. 
  3. Queue up the VHS tape from the point that you want to digitize it and play the video while starting to record in the software on your computer. 
  4. Stop the recording when you’re done, and then save the video and encode it in a format of your choice. 

Normally it is best to encode the videos that you digitize in a fairly universal format such as MP4 with H.264 in order to ensure you have no problems viewing it on any devices. That being said in some cases you may want to use more specialized formats, such as DVD-compatible video if you want to proceed to burn it onto a DVD. 

After your VHS tape has been digitized into a video file you should find it much more convenient to watch it. More importantly, you won’t have to worry about needing a VHS player just to watch the few VHS tapes that you have left, and can instead view it on any device that you want to.

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