How To Convert VHS To DVD

Want to convert your VHS to DVD with your PC? Here’s how to do it.

If you love old movies, home movies or even just making your own movies chances are you have a box of VHS tapes gathering dust somewhere in your house. It does not matter if they contain those movies you don’t find anymore or your favorite family vacation, you want to keep those memories around for as long as you can. But you know you can’t, you know sooner or later the tapes will eventually fail. Why not convert the data in those old VHS tapes to DVD while you still can?

Before you start, you should know there are companies that offer this service, transferring VHS to DVD. What they might not want you to know is that you can do this by yourself. Yes, you. Don’t let the seemingly complicated process fool you. With the right guide and step-by-step instructions you can convert your old VHS tapes to DVD in no time.

Apart from going to a VHS to DVD conversion service there are two other methods to choose from. One is to use a combo VHS/DVD recorder while the other is to use your computer.

A combo VHS/DVD recorder machine looks just like a VCR but is also equipped with a DVD burner. The method is pretty straightforward as the machines does everything. But the problem is a combo VHS/DVD machine can cost upwards of $200! Is this price worth it for a machine that you are likely only going to use once or for only a short time?

This guide will show you how you can transfer your VHS tapes to DVD the other way: with your computer. (You can get special conversion software to do this.) Take note that you can also transfer video to digital format from your DV camcorder, 8mm/Hi8 camera or DVR box as well. Before that you will need some equipment and we can assure you these won’t cost upwards of $200.

What You’ll Need To Transfer Your Video Tapes

pc-mac1. PC or Macintosh Computer. This we must mention early on: you must have a fairly new PC to pull this off. It must also have either Windows Vista/7/8 or Apple OS X operating system installed. Anything less might not be able to do the job.

Black Hi-Fi VCR2. VCR Tape Player. If you have VHS tapes, chances are you still have the player, if not then buy one from the Internet. Remember that if you want to transfer PAL format tapes you have to get a PAL formatted VCR.

rca-video-cable3. RCA Video Cable. This is for connecting the VCR player to your computer. Get the “stereo” type with three plugs on both ends.

usb-video-capture-card4. Video Capture Device. This is another type of cable device that converts analog information from your VHS tape for storing in your hard drive. Consider the StarTech SVID2USB2 device.

video-editing-software5. Video Editing Software. There are free video editing programs like Windows Movie Maker. While Movie Maker is not packaged with Windows 7 it is available for download and is totally compatible with that operating system. However, buying a professional video editing software is also advisable, we highly recommend Pinnacle Studio 16 because it’s easy to use. The software will record video from your capture device, let you edit the saved video and then burn it to DVD.

blank-dvd-r6. DVD Burner & Blank Discs. You need either an internal (like an installable drive) or external (like a portable one) DVD burner. It’s advisable to get DVD-R discs as these can be played on most players unlike DVD-RW or DVD+R. Each disc can hold about two hours of video equivalent to 4.7 gigabytes of data. For creating custom label consider getting Avery DVD labels.

You’re Ready To Convert Your Tapes!

Step 1) Install Software & Updates

Make sure you have everything installed before you start: the software in the CD that came with the capture device and the video editing software you have chosen if you are not using Windows Movie Maker. Also, make sure that you have the latest updates of all the software you are going to use. Make sure you also have the latest graphics card driver. You can do this by using Windows Update. (Click Start, and type in “Windows Update,” and then click it in the list that comes up.)


Step 2) Hook Up The Cables

First plug in the capture device and let your PC detect it. If this does not happen, try restarting your PC.

Next position the player close to the PC, plug one end of the RCA video cable into the analog output jacks in the back, and the other ends to your video capture device.

Put the VHS tape you want to copy into the VCR (make sure it has been rewound to the beginning) then press PLAY. There are newer players with DRM restrictions or tapes that are copy-protected, but this process should bypass any restriction as the player cannot tell between playing the VHS tape for a TV or a computer.


Step 3) Transfer The Video

Now start up Pinnacle Studio 16 and go to the Capture tab.

Click on the Settings button and make sure the video source is set to your video capture device. After you see the video being played in the program click Start Capture to begin the transfer process. After the tape has ended, terminate the operation.


Step 4) Edit The Video

Now comes the fun part! Go to the Edit tab in the software. Drag the saved file into the timeline at the bottom. If you want to include the entire video unedited choose the Files button before doing this.

Now you can edit the saved video. You might want to get rid of commercials or unwanted sections, stabilize shaky images, touch up the color or add menus. Your imagination is the limit. See the Pinnacle manual for instructions and suggestions.

Special tips:

1) Before you do this it’s worth mentioning to check how much space you have in your hard drive. Large video files require large space, be sure you have enough.

2) You might want to keep a backup of the saved video before you start editing, just in case you go overboard. You can save the file in any of the following formats: MP4, MPEG, AVI, DivX, MOV, QuickTime, iPod, iPad

Step 5) Burn Your DVD!

After you are satisfied with the final product it’s time to burn it do the DVD. Load the blank DVD into your DVD burner.

Click the Make Movie tab in the software, then choose Disc on the left and pick DVD for the disc type then click Create Disc.

Keep a file of the edited video in your hard drive just in case. Who knows? You might just lose the new DVD or just want to burn a new one for someone else.


You’ve done it! You have just transferred your first VHS tape to DVD. If there are other VHS tapes waiting to be transferred they should be viewed not as more work, but more opportunities to hone your newfound craft. Wait are you waiting for? Get started!

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