Video Home System (VHS) tapes have been pushed to obsolescence thanks to a wide range of digital media options. Therefore, that stack of VHS tapes is of little use now, especially if, like most people, you don’t own a VCR. Worse still, those tapes were never built to last forever. They degrade with each passing year, no matter how carefully they are handled or stored. 

You must transfer your VHS tapes to a more resilient medium before you lose your memories for good. Digitize them and move to your computer or burn them onto DVD. Here are some of the things you need to know about transferring VHS to DVD.

Using a VHS-to-DVD Conversion Service

For those who want to avoid getting their hands dirty, there are many large corporations that offer VHS to DVD conversion services via their photo departments. Several retailers, such as Walmart, Target, and Costco, do offer conversion services as well. Most such corporations actually outsource this task to a third party. 

You can usually contact the third party directly via their website, but the price on the site may be higher than what you’d get when you go through the retailers. There’s often a 21-day waiting period from tape drop-off to DVD pickup. The obvious advantage here is you do no additional work yourself.

Acquiring a VHS-DVD Combo or a Separate VCR and DVD Burner

If you have a huge collection of VHS tapes to convert, then doing the work yourself could save you the cost of engaging a conversion service. The best option would be a VHS-DVD combo player, but these are difficult to find today. You could check out used ones on Amazon, eBay, or Craigslist.

Alternatively, you can purchase the VCR and DVD burner separately. VCRs aren’t easy to find, but once again, your best shot is checking out Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist. Tread carefully whenever you are shopping for used items and only transact with someone whose credibility can be vouched for. 

Once you have the two machines, connect the DVD burner to the VCR using an RCA audio/video cable. In certain instances, you may require an RCA-to-HDMI cable instead, for certain models. With that done, insert the tape into the VCR and a blank disc into the DVD burner before you begin the transfer. 

The actual transfer process will differ between models but is usually quite straightforward. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if they came with the equipment. You could also run a Google search to see if the instruction manual is available for download on the worldwide web.

Clean Tapes and VCR Before the Transfer

As is tradition when using a VCR, regular cleaning is important. So before you commence the transfer, clean both the equipment and tapes. The effectiveness of different cleaning methods may be a point of contention, but the easiest way is to open the tape’s encasing and get rid of any dirt or dust using a cotton swab or soft cloth. You can clean the VCR’s heads using a head cleaner.


DVD players are readily available in computers, gaming systems, and standalone DVD equipment, so you have multiple options for watching a DVD. Also, once you digitize a VHS tape, you have many ways to improve the content. 

For example, you can now add chapters and menus, so it’s easier to jump directly to the section you are interested in instead of enduring the painstaking forwarding and rewinding on a VCR. You can also upload the digital file to the cloud and share the link with friends and family

Protect your most cherished memories today by moving your VHS tapes to DVD.

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