Best Ways to Digitize and Preserve VHS Tapes


When digitizing VHS tapes, there's two ways you can do it. You can either:

  1. Digitize tapes using a capture card/usb stick
  2. Or...

  3. Capture the footage through a DVD recorder.

I personally like to use the second method since I have one of those analog capture card usb sticks, and they de-interlace the incoming footage in a crappy way that leaves you with a 50fps studdery mess. It will give okay video quality and audio quality, though.

Here is one of those USB capture card sticks that I was talking about. Here is another one incase that link dissappeared.

They are a good deal for the price, but if you want smooth deinterlaced footage, you should first find a good VHS deck. It doesn't matter what model or year it is, aslong as it plays tapes just fine. Connect the analog video [yellow cable], and the audio cables [white and red] of the output of the VHS into a DVD recorder. If you can, set the DVD recorder to the highest quality/bitrate it has, unless the whole VHS tape can't fit in the DVD. Click play on the VHS player, and click record on the DVD recorder. Wait untill the VHS player is done playing, and then you can click stop on the DVD recorder. If the DVD recorder stops first, the DVD can't fit all of the VHS tape's footage, and if you want a clean video without splices in post you may need to redo the transfer process. Then, take the DVD and insert it into a laptop/PC that has a dvd drive. It has to have a DVD drive, not an older CD drive! Then, export all of the footage as it is. That is the clean, raw footage from the tape. It is interlaced, though which is what VHS tapes are always recorded in, which means that if you want those weird horizontal bars in the movement to go away, you will have to find video editing software or a standalone peice of software to de-interlace the footage. You usually can find a free software that can do this, but make sure the software is set to atleast 240 or 240i resolution and higher than 50 FPS to get the best result. I've used a peice of software called "HandBrake", but it requires more technical skills to understand and use. You should then have a nice deinterlaced and digitized tape.