Tech Q&A: Is it possible to digitise my old VHS videos?

Theresa has a lot of memories stored on VHS video tapes and wants to know how she can convert them into a more watchable medium and which one is best?

Q. Theresa
I have a lot of family moments captured on video but no-one in my family has a VHS player anymore. I would like to show these videos to my grandkids so they can watch footage of their parents as kids. How do I go about converting these old videos into a more watchable format? What format should I choose to convert these into?

A. It is possible to buy the necessary hardware to convert all of your video memories into digital files.  

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However, there are also companies that offer this conversion service and this will not only work out cheaper in the long run, it will also save you the hassle of purchasing equipment you will no longer use once you have converted all of your old memories.

These video production service companies are able to convert old VHS, VHSC, Video 8, Hi8, MiniDVs, DVcam, audio cassettes, super 8mm film and standard 8mm film to either DVD or digital format to store on your computer.

It is definitely a good idea to convert these tapes as soon as possible because they do degrade over time with an expected lifespan of just 10-15 years.

Whether you choose to go with DVD format or computer files that can be stored on a USB stick or hard drive is completely up to your personal preference.

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It might seem more convenient to have the files stored on a computer or USB drive, but if you upgrade your computer, it can be easy to forget the files you have on there and USB drives are notoriously easy to lose or misplace.

DVDs, on the other hand, are usually easily stored, but are perhaps less likely to be viewed because of the hassle of finding the exact one that you are looking for.

Some providers no longer offer DVD as a delivery medium because of concerns over durability and longevity, with writeable DVDs falling well short of the promises made by disc manufacturers.

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How much does it cost?
Looking around at some of the companies that offer these services, converting videos up to one hour in length costs about $20, while videos with a longer duration than that cost about $40.

If your old videos are faded or degraded, they can be cleaned and restored before they are converted. While this will add to the cost of converting your memories, it will be well worth it in the long run.

Do you have any old video memories stored in your house? Have you thought about converting them into a digital format? Are you worried that some of your videos have been lost forever?

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Written by Ben