Mini DV video tapes are very useful for storing home movies, particularly if your computer doesn't have a huge hard drive. These tapes can degrade over time, however, leaving your movies unwatchable if you don't back them up in a more durable format. If you want to avoid this unpleasant situation, consider transferring your Mini DV movies to MPEG format on your computer. Making this switch will ensure that you can access your movies for years to come.
Connect your camera to your computer, using a FireWire or USB cable. Open your video capture software. Adobe and Pinnacle both make popular capture and editing software for Window PCs, and Microsoft's Windows Movie Maker will work as well; iMovie and the Final Cut family are popular options for Macintosh users.
Import your movie from the DV tape. Save the file in the program's default format on your computer's desktop.
Open your web browser and download a file converter. Koyote Free Media Converter and Quick Media Converter HD (both available from Download.cnet.com) are two popular free options, but Format Factory (available at Formatoz.com) and many others are also quite useful.
Install and open the file converter. Select your imported video file for conversion. Set the output format to MPEG. If prompted, name and select a location for the converted file. Click "Convert" or an equivalent command.
You may want to purchase an external hard drive (ideally with a FireWire connection) to store the video files on after you've imported and converted them. This way, you'll avoid cluttering up your everyday hard drive and keep your computer running smoothly.
Unless you need to save space, don't throw away the Mini DV tapes after you convert them--hard drive failures do happen. Alternatively, back up your most important videos in digital form in a secure location. Then you can throw out the tapes, if you want.