How do I rip VHS movies onto my computer?

Written by aaron crocco
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How do I rip VHS movies onto my computer?
VHS tape (vhs tape image by Sonar from Fotolia.com)

With VHS tapes and VCRs fading in popularity, transferring old movies and home videos to a digital format is common. Digital media never gets worn out, never degrades and can be copied onto a variety of media. You can even just share the video online with friends and family. Many options exist to transfer your movies to your computer.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Computer
  • Video capture device
  • Video capture software

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Instructions

    The DVR Method

  1. 1

    Using a DVR is the simplest method if you already own one. Hook your VCR into the DVR's input connectors. Do this at a time when no shows are set to record.

  2. 2

    Set up a manual recording for the appropriate amount of time your VHS tape's duration. It is recommended to have it record in "Best Quality."

  3. 3

    Press play on the VCR once the DVR starts recording your VCR's output. Your DVR should now be recording your VCR tape.

  4. 4

    Stop the VCR and DVR recordings once the video is completed and verify it has recorded the entire tape.

  5. 5

    Transfer the video to your computer. If you used a TiVo, use the TiVoToGo software that TiVo provides for free for both Mac and PC. This will place the video onto your computer and allow you to edit it and burn it to DVD. Other DVRs may have the capability to transfer to a computer or burn to DVD.

    The Video Capture Method

  1. 1

    Connect a video capture device to your computer. Pinnacle makes devices for the PC and Mac, while the Elgato Video Capture device is for Mac only.

  2. 2

    Connect your VCR to the video capture device and queue up your tape to the appropriate starting point.

  3. 3

    Launch the video capture software that came with your capture device. It will walk you through preparations for transferring the video.

  4. 4

    Press "Record" or "Capture" on the software, and then press "Play" on the VCR. Your capture should begin.

  5. 5

    Verify that the video was captured properly by the software when the recording is complete.

Tips and warnings

  • Video capture devices run from cheap to expensive and have features you may or may not need. Research which device works best for you.
  • Once your video is on your computer properly, it is a good idea to make a backup copy immediately so your capture is not lost or so you can revert to an original capture if your editing goes awry.

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