Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Converting VHS Tapes to DVD

Do you have shelves or boxes full of VHS Tapes? Are they labeled or indexed so that you even know what's recorded on them?

Here's my stash of VHS tapes in my closet...

Yes, they have been there for YEARS...and I don't know what's on them. This is Phase II of the project because I already separated the Purchased Tapes from the Recorded Tapes. This stash is only the tapes I recorded. I do know that there are some tapes within the stash that have some precious recordings on them that I will want to preserve by converting them to another type of media.

This has been one of those PROJECTS that is going to take a lot of preparation and a lot of time to complete. I call anything that requires more than one action or task a "project". This has been on my list of things-to-do for a very long time.

So, it was time to tackle this - as VHS tapes are prone to deteriorate over time. I did keep them in a controlled environment away from direct sunlight, temperature controlled and with low humidity, i.e. my office closet.

I pulled our old VCR from the living room, the only one left in the house, into my office and researched how to connect the cables from it to my computer. Now, I already have a program installed on the computer which will copy and burn to DVD. You will also need some kind of conversion device as VHS is ANALOG and it needs to be converted to DIGITAL.

That was all finished and the first test run was done. The result? The old VCR ate my tape! I tried another and it didn't play either - therefore, it wasn't the tape, but the machine.

So, it went in the garbage and I found myself purchasing a new VCR! I know, at this day and age they are almost obsolete and I am buying a new one! But it's needed. I bought one from Wal-Mart with a VCR and DVD player combination. They had a machine that plays a tape and burns to disc all-in-one. But I saved the money knowing that I already have the software needed to do it on my computer. You could pay the extra few bucks and save yourself the trouble of the computer software and conversion device.

So, here is the new VCR in my office attached to my computer. I also pulled out the old "rewinder" machine. It is exclusively used to rewind your tapes and save the wear and tear on the VCR.

Now, when I am sitting at my desk, I play a tape with the volume up loud enough to hear the content but not distract from my task at hand. I am playing an old HGTV episode of "Room by Room" as I write this.

I know that I mostly have HGTV and DIY recorded as well as some History Channel programs. But, I am mostly interested in finding an old image of my grandmother. She was a model in New York and always told me about how she was a "Chesterfield Girl" on a billboard. She described being a platinum blond with big white teeth holding her cigarette in a red convertible with a red scarf blowing in the wind. She was 5'9" and beautiful.

I never saw the image. Or any of her other modeling images because they were destroyed in a flood in the basement. That only added to my desire to see one. I also found in the 1930 census that she was 21 and a "saleswoman for ladies wear". Then one day, I was watching TV (and can you imagine that I happened to be recording?) when her image flashed up on the screen! I was beside myself in shock! It was one of those spiraling images that flashed up large and then disappeared for another to follow just behind it. I couldn't believe my eyes! I played it over and over, paused it and watched it in slow motion! It was her! Exactly as she had described it. Sadly, I couldn't tell her about finally seeing it as she had passed away.

I also have some TV commercial I was in and other TV shows. Nothing big - no voice, just an extra in most of them. I'll be sure to post some images once I find them.

It has been a week and I have gone through four tapes. I only recorded one segment off of "The Christopher Lowell Show" of a beautiful room redo that I had not forgotten about. The rest went into the trash. BOY DOES THAT FEEL GOOD! Finally started the project and finally cleaning out the closet to capture the memories I want to keep and discard the junk!

If you have VHS tapes that you wish to preserve, I highly suggest that you convert them now to a newer media. Don't procrastinate, get started now.

Copyright © 2010 Joanne Schleier


  1. Thanks for the prompt. I've been meaning to tackle this project for years! I have many VHS tapes of my boys when they were little. It's time to preserve them. Thank you!

  2. This is a GREAT post! I need to do this badly and it has been on my to do list for a couple of years. Not only do I have VHS tapes but also 8mm. I have been afraid to do anything due to fear of destroying them but I know if I wait the likelihood of damage becomes greater.

    Then there are the reel to reel audio...

  3. wow, a software to convert the vhs tapes. I wonder what the life is on them. I can still record over them. but anyway, I have a lot. That new vcr /dvr is interesting. I wonder if the old vhs tapes just get fragile?
    Lke you it's hgtv and well some Home Shows of the past as well as old Good Company tapes.and fragments of something. I got lucky once and saw my husbands cousins on a talk show a talk show that I rarely watched. and I think a friend.

    Glad to see this post.