How to Transfer VHS Tapes to DVD’s

How to Transfer

Now that Christmas is over, I can share about one of the gifts that I got my parents.

Last time I was at their house, I snuck all of their VHS tapes out of the basement. I then began the process of transferring them to DVDs. Weeks later I had a stack of DVDs wrapped up and under the tree for them to open on Christmas. They were more than excited to have all of our home movies accessible again.

Why Transfer VHS tapes to DVD?

  • VHS players are becoming harder and harder to find. I’m sure replacement parts are even harder.
  • The video and sound quality of a VHS tape begins to deteriorate after 5 years. Once they are really old, the tape in them can easily snap (happened to two tapes with me).
  • DVDs can preserve memories for 100+ years without threatening the quality.
  • VHS tapes take up a lot of room!
How Much Does it Cost?
This depends on which method you choose to use. The method I chose (see below) ended up costing me around $60 when all said and done.
There are tons of businesses out there that will transfer the tapes for you. They range anywhere from $13-$20 per VHS tape. I had over 25 tapes to transfer so the second option was out of my price range.
How I Transferred my VHS tapes to DVD

There are lots of ways to do it. I personally used a program called Roxio EASY VHS to DVD for Mac. The program had me install an application and use a special cord to connect the VHS player to my computer. Once everything was set up I had to go through the long process of playing each VHS tape in real time and recording it on my computer. Here is a picture of my setup.

Transfer VHS tapes

After footage was recorded and stored on my computer, I used iDVD (a program I already had on my computer) to create a DVD of the home movies. Once my DVD was burned, I would erase the footage (to create more room for the next tape) and start all over again.

Lessons Learned

I learned quickly that I wasn’t a huge fan of iDVD. In fact I had burnt over 8 DVDs when I realized I had been doing the menus wrong which made the DVDs not playable. I also had problems with the Roxio program and found very little help or support to fix my issue. However, I have a friend borrowing the program and using it for the same purpose and she isn’t having any problems at all. So it very well could have been my computer and/or operating error.

I’m glad I was able to do this for my family but I don’t know if it was worth all the time (and frustration) of doing it on my own. It was MUCH cheaper to do it on my own but if you don’t have a lot of time and patience, this project probably isn’t for you. However, I did enjoy watching all the home movies I haven’t seen in years. They gave me quite a laugh. Particularly this one of three-year-old me throwing a tantrum in my denim bikini.

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  1. My parents have a ton of VHS movies. I have been considering transferring the home videos over the DVD’s so that we could watch them again. Thanks for explaining the process of how this works. How long did it take you to do all of this? Is it just the time is takes to watch the VHS in real time? Thanks for sharing!

    • Polly says

      Hi Nathan. To be honest, if I were to do this again, I would pay for someone else to do it. I saw the service offered at SAMs club a while back. I’m sure it is offered other places as well. It takes a LONG time and one of my DVDs didn’t have sound when I was done. Probably my fault but again, I’d rather pay for someone to do it in the future!