For years my family’s VHS tapes sat on a shelf, and we couldn’t watch them because our VCR player no longer worked. I finally decided to do something about it and that’s when we converted our VHS tapes to digital.
There are two ways you can convert VHS tapes: you can do it yourself or you can take the tapes to a professional.
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At first, I had planned to convert all 50+ tapes on my own. That’s when I realized it’d take hours and hours and I’d need to buy a VCR player, which are quite expensive these days.
So, I found a professional on Yelp who had a ton of reviews. This made me feel like I could trust him. I was concerned I’d drop off these invaluable tapes with someone who would break or lose them. That’s why reading the reviews helped me decide where to take the tapes. I took them to him in person, so I was able to meet him first too. But there are also services that can accept your tapes via mail.
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If you take your tapes to a professional, discuss the cost upfront. They should give you a timeline as well. It took less than a week for me to get my tapes back. I asked for them to be put on a thumb drive, but another option was a downloadable link.
I found the most amazing footage when I got my tapes back!
Not only did I have family movies of my parents with me and my brother, but I also had even older family footage from the early 1900s that had been transferred to VHS at some point in history.
I was able to see a video from my sweet 16 birthday party, a video of my cousin and I putting on a play at home, and videos that my friends and I made in middle school and high school just for fun.
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If you want to transfer videos yourself, you’ll need a few things.
First, make sure the VCR works and will not eat your tapes. Then you’ll want to invest in a cord (specifically a USB-to-composite video converter) that can link the VCR to a computer and you can copy it that way. You’ll want downloadable software on your computer to process the transfer. Amazon also has kits that can help you with this process.
As I was going through my parents’ tapes, I also found old photos. Some were slides (like the one below) and needed a slide viewer to properly see them.
It’s fascinating to see how much technology has changed since photography became maintream. And it’s a good reminder to preserve your photos and videos today.
You never know how tech may shift in the future. If you have material content, digitize it. If you only have digital content, make a material copy.
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