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Tech tip: Convert your old VHS tapes into digital format

The way we view and capture footage has changed over time. While many people still prefer to shoot on film, digital is easier to share, and the storage potential is massive.

Your smartphone has turned video capture into an almost careless practice. You can shoot just about as much as you want and quickly delete what you don’t need. But how do you share videos with others? Tap or click here for tips on putting together a movie from various clips for friends and family.

Analog is mainly gone but not forgotten. Remember VHS tapes? You may have a collection of home movies and feature films on this historical medium, and hopefully, you didn’t get rid of them. Read on for ways to preserve those precious memories.

Save your old home movies

You might have had an extensive movie collection on VHS back in the day, but at least they can be replaced with DVD, Blu-ray or better yet, digital copies and streaming services. But what about all the home movies shot on VHS, especially as VCRs become increasingly harder to find? Not to mention, tapes degrade over time.

The good news is you can convert home movies to digital and easily enjoy them again while sharing them with others. You have a few options, and we’ll detail some below.

RELATED: Tech tip: Convert your old film negatives into digital photos

Best VHS to digital convertor

If you want to go the DIY route to convert your VHS to digital, you’ll need some old equipment, namely a VCR or VHS camcorder. If you don’t have one, check places like eBay, where you can buy VCRs that seemingly work for as little as $35-$40.

Ensure the seller has good ratings and ask questions before placing a bid. It can be as simple as asking, “Does it function?” and “When’s the last time you tested it?”

You’ll also need a converter like a budget-friendly option from UCEC that digitizes video onto a computer. The UCEC video capture card can transfer VHS to digital. Plug the device into your computer’s USB 2.0 port and connect your analog video source (VHS or camcorder) to the device using the included RCA composite or S-video cables.

Use the included software or another one of your choosing. You’ll have to transfer your VHS recordings in real-time, so set aside some time. You can even connect the capture card to your TV and record from that to your computer.

Another option is the more full-featured Roxio Easy VHS to DVD 3 Plus. Capture analog video directly from your camcorder or VCR and convert it to digital on your computer. You get some editing tools to trim video, enhance color, add titles, credits and transitions, reduce noise and stabilize old footage.

To start, connect the Roxio Capture Device to a USB 2.0 port on your PC and download and install the software. Connect your VHS player or analog camcorder to your PC using the capture device and an RCA or S-Video cable (cable not included). Follow the onscreen instructions, and you’re all set.

Have a company convert your old tapes for you

You can send VHS tapes to companies like Costco to digitize them for you. You can save your files onto a thumb drive and have them backed up to a MemoryCloud account, which you can access for 90 days. With that, you can download your video to your phone or computer.

Prices start at $24.99 for the first tape (any length) and then $16.99 for additional tapes. Tap or click here for more details from Costco.

Keep a couple of copies

Just as with scanning old photos, where you keep your videos is important. Those files can get corrupted or accidentally deleted, so some redundancy is a good idea.

You can save your files locally to an external hard drive or securely back them up to the cloud with our sponsor IDrive. With IDrive, you can backup all your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into ONE account for one low cost. 

Go to IDrive.com and use promo code Kim to Save 50% on 5 TB of cloud backup now. That’s less than $40 for the first year!

RELATED: Tech how-to: 5 easy ways to convert audio files to text

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