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How Do I Convert Videos from VHS to a PC?

Trial and error might be needed to successfully convert data on a VHS to a PC.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The era of VHS tapes is ending, but that doesn't necessarily mean that a person will lose all of his or her VHS content. Converting VHS tapes to digital files will extend the lives of the original recordings by putting them into a format that is easy to copy, store, and burn on to DVD. There are several ways to convert videos from VHS to a PC, but it may take a little trial and error to find out which way works best.

One of the easiest ways to convert from VHS to a PC is through DVD conversion packages. These are special computer packages that contain all the hardware and software necessary to upload the original VHS files, convert them into digital version, and burn them as DVDs. Conversion packages will sometimes also contain video editing files that allow the user to manipulate and enhance the converted files. Using video editing software allows home movies to be edited together, soundtracks to be added, and problems in the original files to be minimized or removed.

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The most basic way to move files from VHS to a PC is using a video capture card. Video capture cards come standard with some high-end models of PC, and are often an internal device. For computers without an internal capture card, a hardware device exists that can plug into the VCR and computer using USB or firewire cables. To enable the transfer, a conversion software program may be necessary; these will usually come with the external devices, but may also sometimes be downloaded from the Internet. Once the device is installed and activated, use the VCR to play the tapes and the files will be transferred from VHS to a PC.

Some home video cameras can also be used a proxy method of converting VHS to a PC. Since some models have a built-in capacity to convert analog files, such as VHS videos, to digital files, they can be used in place of a capture system or conversion package. To move files in this matter, the VCR must be hooked into the camera, and the camera into the computer. The VCR can then be used to play videos through the camera, which converts them into digital files that can then be captured by the computer. For people that have a home video camera and don't wish to monkey around with external packages, this may be the best option.

Whether a camera or computer has the capability to capture or convert files will depend on the make and model; contact the manufacturer to find out which conversion method should be used for a particular type of PC. In order to turn captured files into DVDs, it will also be necessary to use a DVD burner, which comes standard on many moderate-to-high-end PCs. External DVD burners can also be purchased at computer stores if an internal model doesn't exist.

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