THIS IS A GUEST POST COURTESY OF BRANDON HARRIS OF SMOOTH PHOTO SCANNING SERVICES
Getting around to taking care of the old video collection in the basement is
something that most people avoid. And when you think about how much
goes into the process, it’s not hard to see why tackling the challenge isn’t an
However, while it may not be very fun to handle, it’s still an essential task. If
you don’t digitize your video collection, you will lose it to deterioration, a flood,
or another accident sooner or later.
But what are the best ways to transfer video or videotapes to digital? Do you
need to use a video transfer service, or can you do it on your own?
Let’s look at some of the most popular approaches and talk about whether
they are worth pursuing.
Buy a VHS to DVD Converter
If you’re a DIY type person, you will probably want to look into the possibility
of digitizing your tapes yourself before you start looking for a VHS to digital
And the good news is that there are options you can opt for if you’re
determined to take care of everything yourself. That being said, these options
aren’t perfect, so if you go with them, you need to be prepared to manage
To take on the task, you will either need a 1) VHS DVD recorder that can
handle both formats at once and 2) two standalone devices for the tapes and
Unfortunately, finding a combo device is becoming harder each year. They
have been out of production for quite some time, so your best bet is to search
listing and auction sites online or go to used electronics stores in your city.
Fining standalone VHS and DVD players will be easier, although they also
aren’t very common. Still, many people had them back in the day, so you will
find working models for a reasonable price if you put in a little effort.
Once you have them, you’ll need to buy blank DVDs, connect the devices, and
record from one format to the other. The footage should transfer to the disc
as it is playing, providing you with a digital version that you can then copy to
But since the equipment won’t be professional, you shouldn’t expect the best
results. VHS tapes are already notorious for their deteriorating footage quality,
and transferring them will not improve the quality.
Still, if your only goal is to preserve the videos in some way before they get
lost, this is a good way to go. But let’s go over the other options before you
make a commitment.
Use a Retailer Digitization Service
As you can probably imagine, you’re not the only one with old videos in your
storage room. Since analog video was so popular for a long time, millions of
people around the country have collections that are gathering dust and
Because of that, big chain stores such as Walmart and Costco have set up a
video digitization service, helping people digitize their collection and avoid
the hassle of doing it themselves.
What’s more, since these are large chains that have streamlined their
processes, they can offer very competitive prices. Although, as you can
probably guess, the saying “you get what you pay for” applies here as well.
Most of these chains use a third-party service called Yes Video, which offers
affordable rates starting at just $26 per tape of up to two hours.
If you want a simple and cheap way to digitize your tapes but don’t want the
hassle of doing it yourself, this could be a pretty good alternative. However,
just as with home video digitization, you shouldn’t expect miracles if you
These services are designed to process large quantities of video quickly,
which means that your tapes will be given the minimum time needed to get
them to a digital format and return them to you.
In case your tapes would have suffered damage or required some editing or
repairs, these services will usually not be able to help, leaving you with sup-
par digitized videos that might not be a lot of fun to watch.
So, while they are definitely convenient and affordable, you may want to think
twice before committing. Since you’re taking the time to digitize your
collection, chances are that you want to be able to actually enjoy it.
Because of that, choosing a professional service will usually be the smarter
choice, as it will give you peace of mind knowing that your tapes are in good
Using a Professional Service
As mentioned in the previous section, a professional video transfer service
might be the best option if you truly care about your videos and want to
make sure that their quality comes out as good as possible.
These services are becoming more popular each year and offer a wide range
of services, handling orders of various sizes, and helping clients overcome
But why should you opt for a professional VHS to digital service company?
Well, for one thing, you can trust their expertise and their equipment. These
companies use state-of-the-art digitizing and video editing tools that allow
them to tackle even the biggest challenges.
If your tapes were damaged or have deteriorated over time, experienced
professionals with decades of experience can help minimize the damage and
restore the quality of the video as much as possible.
Today, these services don’t really differ that much from those you can get in
your local Walmart in terms of convenience. The tapes can be sent and
delivered back through mail, and sometimes you can even get the
digitization services to be done on-site.
What’s more, if you have a larger quantity of videos that need to be digitized,
you can also enjoy amazing deals on bulk orders, which make working with a
professional company even more cost-effective.
This way, you don’t have to worry about handling the videos yourself while
still knowing that they will be delivered to you in the best quality possible,
and in a format that will be protected from accidents or deterioration, which
will allow you to share those memories with your family for a long time.
Brandon Harris is the owner of Smooth Photo Scanning Services, one of the
leading photo scanning service providers in New Jersey, providing slide
scanning services, vhs to digital service, conversion of CDs and VHS tapes to
DVDs, and more. Prior to that, Brandon owned and operated a small bakery.
Other than working to grow and improve his business, he enjoys spending
time with his wife, daughter, and family.
This article was featured in Summerana Magazine | December 2020 issue