Converting VHS Tapes to Digital: A Complete Guide

As VHS tapes and players become relics of the past, preserving the memories stored on these tapes becomes increasingly important. Converting VHS tapes to digital formats ensures that your cherished memories are not only preserved but also easily accessible and shareable. This guide will provide you with various methods and tips for converting VHS tapes to digital formats effectively.

Reasons to Convert VHS Tapes to Digital

VHS tapes are susceptible to wear and tear, leading to a decline in audio and visual quality over time. Additionally, VHS players are becoming increasingly rare, making it challenging to view these tapes. Digital formats, in contrast, offer greater longevity, ease of storage, and compatibility with modern devices, making them an ideal solution for preserving your memories.

Methods for Converting VHS Tapes to Digital

There are several effective methods for converting VHS tapes to digital formats. Each method has its own set of advantages and considerations. Here, we discuss the most popular options:

1. Using a VHS-DVD Combo Recorder

A VHS-DVD combo recorder is a convenient device that can play VHS tapes and record the content directly onto a DVD.


  1. Insert the VHS Tape: Place the VHS tape into the VHS slot of the combo recorder.
  2. Insert a Blank DVD: Insert a blank DVD into the DVD recorder.
  3. Select Recording Mode: Choose the desired recording mode (SP, LP, etc.) based on tape length and desired quality.
  4. Begin Recording: Press “Record” on the DVD side and “Play” on the VHS side to start the transfer process.
  5. Finalize the DVD: After recording, finalize the DVD to ensure it can be played on other devices.

2. Using a USB Video Capture Device

A USB video capture device allows you to connect your VHS player to a computer and digitize the video.


  1. Connect the VHS Player: Use RCA cables to connect the VHS player’s output to the USB video capture device.
  2. Connect to Computer: Plug the USB video capture device into your computer’s USB port.
  3. Install Capture Software: Install the software provided with the capture device (e.g., Elgato Video Capture, Honestech VHS to DVD).
  4. Configure Settings: Open the software and configure the video capture settings (resolution, format, etc.).
  5. Record the Video: Play the VHS tape and press “Record” in the software to begin capturing the video.
  6. Save the File: Once the recording is complete, save the digital file in your preferred format.

3. Using a Digital Camcorder with Pass-Through Capability

Some digital camcorders have a pass-through feature that allows you to convert VHS content to digital format.


  1. Connect the VHS Player to the Camcorder: Use RCA cables to connect the VHS player’s output to the camcorder’s input.
  2. Set Camcorder to Pass-Through Mode: Put the camcorder in pass-through mode (refer to the camcorder’s manual).
  3. Connect to Computer: Connect the camcorder to your computer via USB or FireWire.
  4. Record the Video: Play the VHS tape and use video capture software on your computer to record the video.
  5. Save the Digital File: Save the captured video in the desired digital format.

4. Using Professional Conversion Services

For those who prefer not to handle the conversion process themselves, professional services can convert VHS tapes to digital formats.


  1. Choose a Service: Select a reputable conversion service, such as Legacybox, iMemories, or Costco’s conversion service.
  2. Send Your Tapes: Follow the service provider’s instructions to ship your VHS tapes.
  3. Receive Digital Copies: After conversion, you will receive your original tapes back along with digital copies on a USB drive, DVD, or a cloud download link.

Tips for a Successful Conversion

  • Inspect and Clean Tapes: Ensure your VHS tapes are clean and in good condition to avoid transferring dirt or damage to the digital copy.
  • Choose the Right Digital Format: Select a format that best meets your needs; common formats include MP4, AVI, and MOV.
  • Backup Your Digital Files: Create multiple backups of your digital files on external hard drives, cloud storage, or DVDs to prevent data loss.
  • Organize and Label: Clearly label and organize your digital files for easy access and future reference.


Converting VHS tapes to digital formats is an essential step in preserving your valuable memories for future generations. Whether you choose to do it yourself using a VHS-DVD combo recorder, a USB video capture device, or a digital camcorder, or opt for a professional conversion service, the process is straightforward and accessible. By following the methods and tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your VHS tapes are safely and effectively transferred to modern digital formats.