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How do I copy VHS tapes to my computer or DVD?

Could you tell me how to connect my VCR to my PC so I can put
my videos onto DVD disks?

VHS tapes are disappearing from the landscape as digital technology rapidly
takes over. But what to do with all those old VHS recordings you might have of
your own?

Copying them to a DVD or your computer and from there to a DVD, is not that
difficult, with the proper bits and pieces.

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The simplest, but least flexible way is to simply get a DVD recorder. No
computer required. Once connected, push record on the DVD recorder, play on the
VCR and come back when the tape’s done.

To capture on your computer, you’ll need either a video card that can take a
VCR’s video and audio as input, or a video tuner card that can tune to the TV
channel that the VCR broadcasts on. Another nice alternative is a VCR or
camcorder that can output on a firewire connection, and then capture to a
firewire card in your PC.

Once it’s on the computer, a DVD burner and some burning software, and
you’re in business. The nice thing about capturing to your computer is that the
burning software typically includes some rudimentary editing functionality, and
there are several higher powered editing packages available as well.

As you can imagine, there are many variables. I’ve included some resources
below that should head you in the right direction.

Do this

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50 comments on “How do I copy VHS tapes to my computer or DVD?”

  1. What you should do is get a tv tuner card and plug the vcr in via a rca connection. Use the sofware given with the tv tuner to record! I reccomend the pixleview tuner coz that one works for me.

  2. My wife has a huge collection of VHS disney films and we want to convert them to dvd, next to going out and buying the new version on DVD (even though they’re only released once every 7 years or so) we thought we’d buy a DVD recorder, unfortunatley we get a “Protected Content” notice and so we’re unable to copy to the dvd, Is there anything we can do.

  3. i have a similar problem in reverse.i have old concert footage on my comp.i want to get it from the computer but in order to do so ill have to burn it to dvd-rw,then record it to my vhs,then burn to dvd in a jvc burner/player.i want to hook my jvc dvd burner straight into the video card (geforce4 mx440 w/agp8x)using an s-video cable and bypass all the other it possible to do this?my dvd burner on the comp dont do dvd only rw`s so id have to go the long way anyways if it dont work.

  4. I spent quite a bit of time doing research on purchasing hardware and/or software to convert my video library to DVD. In addition to the cost is the time I’d need to spend to babysit the conversion. I reasoned that when I was done, the hardware I had purchased would be as useful as the treadmill in my basement collecting dust.

    In the end I decided to outsource the work. But before risking a lifetime of memories, I did considerable research on conversion vendors.

    Quality, price and turnaround time were important factors…but I really wanted reliability and good customer service. Enter “The Photo Archival Company”.

    I sent them a mixture of VHS, VHS-c and Hi8 tapes of both family and business events.

    I received my shipment yesterday morning and I have gone through and watched several of the 93 DVDs created from my videos. EXCELLENT!!! My order was exactly as quoted both in price and turnaround time. I am thrilled they were labeled just as I asked. Almost 20 years of memories, people and places…safe and now in a stable DVD format.

    This webpage/thread is one of the places I visted when I was doing my hardware/software research and I thought I’d share my experience here for those in the same place I was at just three weeks ago.


  5. Okay, so I’ve read lots of the comments and the article. The information sounds good, but I am getting a little confused. I have a bunch of old Disney movies on VHS that I would like to convert to DVD. The reason being is that I watched them when I was younger, the kids like to watch them, and I’m sure the grandkids (someday) will like to watch them. However, we watch them so much that I am worried that they will not last. The quality is slowly deteriorating. Since these are commercially manufactured videos, they are encoded so that people cannot copy them. However, I am not trying to make money off of this, all I want is to preserve the movies I’ve already paid for once. It would cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to replace all of the old disney movies I have with new DVD versions. It would be much cheaper to copy them to a blank DVD. Is there any way to get around the encoding to make the videos into DVD’s? Again, want to emphasize that I am in no way trying to make money off of these or steal from anyone. I already bought them once, and I don’t want to pay for the same movie again. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!


  6. I do know that, with computer software, you are allowed to make one backup copy. So, perhaps there is a similar rule when backing up VHS tapes to DVD? It would be worth a look at the copyright laws in one’s country to figure this out. BTW, you may have to hang onto the original as proof you own an original.

  7. to copy the protected VHS you have to remove the macrovision. there are several boxes available that can do that. They plug inbetween the vcr and the dvr (or pc.) google macrovision removal.

    to Ken: check your settings. Mine has an auto finalize option that I turned off. (also try hitting pause instead of stop if you can’t turn off the auto finalize.)

  8. Wed BOUGHT a new Panasonic VCR-to-DVD Recorder so we could “Just push the button” but it refuses to copy ANY store-bought VCR! Sure, it will copy from the DVR or from a tape we MADE, BUT NOT “mEDICINE mAN’ OR “hUNT FOR rED oCTOBER”, ETC, ETC, ETC! It alkso refuses to play back the “Medicine Man” we put onto the DVD in the PC! Any ideas? Bob Snyder

    Hash: SHA1

    I’m guessing those tapes are copy-protected and it would be
    illegal to copy them. Most commercial solutions are going to
    enforce that.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  10. My question is the same as “Dan” posted Oct. 3, regarding connecting VCR to MacBook Pro. Can it be as simple as getting a cable with standard video plug on one end and a standard USB computer plug on the other? I think the computer’s built in “i-video” is all the software needed. Thanks – Bob

  11. if you have a beta recorder 1or2 try to copy vhs tape to the beta tape? then from beta back to a new VHS TAPE,then to the dvd recording .
    i can not tell more just try it this will get you a clean tape ok

  12. I have been able to copy my vhs to dvd with my dvd recorder. My problem is that one of my dvd players will not let me show the movie. What do I need to do?

  13. Actually it is not illegal to make one backup of copy of any commercial VHS tape that you can no longer watch. This is found under the “Fair Use Act.” Check other companies that do video transfers. The Photo Archival Company does not convert any copyright material, but others will if you sign a statement indicating you are the owner of the tape.

  14. I just had my whole video collection converted to DVD and a hard drive. The results were incredible and I used

    Their DVDs are pretty cool — very colorful – no smudged ink and are water-proof. The cost was only $9.95 per tape for the transfer to DVD and $15.95 per tape for the transfer to hard drive. With childhood memories, I think it is a good idea to have the tapes converted onto more than one type of media.

    I’m getting a Blu-Ray player next and hope to have convert my edited video on it so I can view everything in HD. Good luck everyone!

  15. i tape off tv shows on a vcr and then play tape and copy to a dvd recorder – i edit out the ads – but somone said this is illegal even to copy a tape i copied to a dvd or to give the dvd to someone else – i think parts of the copyright law are stupid – the tv station pays for the video and they know people will tape it

  16. I got your vhs2dvd wizard this past week did everything it said to do the screen comes up on pc but the picture from vcr is all gargle up although the picture is great on my tv checked it out a numerous times still i cant get it to transfer over can u help thanks

    “My” vhs2dvd wizard? I have no idea what you’re talking about, I have no such thing. Did you perhaps click on an ad? If so you’ll need to contact the actual place you got it from.

    – Leo

  17. My son wants to convert old vhs tapes to be able to see them on the computer. These tapes are commercial movies. If copying them won’t work, as seems to be what you are saying in the first comment, is there some way to instead hook the VCR up to the computer so he can watch the vhs tapes directly on the computer? Thanks.

  18. i am trying to copy a vcr tape to dvd and keep getting an error message “protected signal detected, copy abort”

    Help please!!! much appreciated….thanks

  19. There are a lot of video transfer services that can convert your VHS to DVD for you. Most of these are direct VHS to DVD transfers like you would get if you used a VCR/DVD recorder.

    I wanted a bit more of a customized option and discovered StashSpace.Com They transfer VHS to digital then let you watch and edit your video online. This worked really good for me because I wanted to combine two tapes onto one DVD, add titles, and remove some unwanted footage. I was vary pleased with my final DVD.

    Here is a link to their website with more information:

  20. I have been researching this for my dad. He has tons of old VHS tapes of the family from when I was growing up that he wants to preserve. I figured that moving them to DVD would be the best way. I have found many different ideas to do this but the easist recommendation came from this list of software: I purchased the Roxio product and it came with the cable I need to hook up the VCR to the computer, that way I was able to capture the video and then burn to a disc. I hope others find this useful and easy.

  21. This doesn’t really answer the question. It doesn’t tell you what cables you need to connect the VCR to your computer (except for mentioning a firewire cable), it doesn’t tell you where to plug them in, it doesn’t deal with different kinds of VCRs (of which there is a 20+ year history that spans hundreds of countries), nor does it tell you about different kinds of video cards, really. So thanks, once again, for wasting my time. I do not know why I continue to use the internet. It is a [edited].

  22. I agree the best solution to copying vhs to dvd is to use a stand alone player/recorder but you can also get excellent results via software and a usb dongle(easyCap) Now to address the garbled video issue its a little copyright protection monster called Macrovision which is present in most commercial vhs tapes to stop piracy. The only way around this is to buy an image stabilizing black box that sits between the vcr and dvd recorder. These are available online if you google it but theyre getting scarce as they are now illegal.Try googling Macrovision defeat. Hope this helps. BTW Disney tapes are the worst for Macrovision embedded protection.

  23. OK this is fine but I want to know where I plug the cables into my vcr machine. I have a video grabber with a usb at one end and 3 other bits I don’t know the name of at the other end (1 is yellow, 1 is 2 parts together white and red, and the other seems like a six holed thing. There is also a cable with a red yellow and white pin at each end. Thing is I can’t see where I’m supposed to put these in my vcr and then when I’ve done this do i play the tape without it going onto a tv or what. Why do these things come without proper instructions? I need pictures lol

  24. What kind of cabels is needed from T V to the computer to put Video tapes on to DVD;s. and I do not see \any place on the front of my computer.
    Thank you

  25. Theres this vhs to dvd software called Dazzle instant dvd recorder.
    It works on computers and laptops that have windows xp and a usb 2.0 port.
    You can find one at office depot or office max.
    It comes with instructions and all you need to buy is an audio video cable.
    Its also windows vista capable.
    It also bypasses the copy protection on movie tapes.

  26. the only problem with Dazzle is that they have restricted the time element to only 104 minutes record time for each copy. most movies and stuff are longer than 104 minutes. it used to be 133 minutes and i think they lower it for copyright reasons.

  27. VHS to DVD standalone player/recorder is fine but why buy all the unnecessary junk when you are gonna use it maybe several times. It is better just to buy the easyCap or similar to it and do it from your computer and cheaper too.

  28. Having trawled through all the comments, I have a couple of points.
    1) As pointed out (some years ago now) by the BBC, keeping ANYTHING you record from a broadcast station (audio or video) for longer than 30 days is illegal. It doesn’t get enforced too often, but it’s still there.
    2) Copy protection on commercial products is NOT there to give Mr. Average a hard time preserving his collection – it’s there to stop Mr. Pirate making lots of money. The sins of the few outweigh the needs of the many.
    3) Converters which have a yellow, white and red connector (much like the output of most game consoles) need another lead to convert this into a SCART socket (or whichever connector you require). The convertor I purchased recently (and indeed the reason I looked up this article) came with one – many may not.

  29. There are lots of issues that can come up when trying to convert your VHS to a digital format. Cheaper pieces of hardware (like Dazzle) often have problems with older VHS’s and the audio will not sync with video, and you end up spending hours pulling your hair out to no avail. The best converter that I’ve found for its price is the ADVC-110, which never has audio issues. Its a bit more expensive than Dazzle, and requires firewire, but will save you lottts of headache because it will get the job done right the first time, with high quality, and once you are done, you can go ahead and sell the equipment on ebay and get most of your money back.

    That being said,these days it can be relatively inexpensive to have the conversion done for you. There are countless companies that do it, such as, or, all with different offerings and prices.

    You can get your video copied onto a hard drive for you and then you can use your own computer to edit and burn DVDs.

  30. Is there a shop in London which I can visit and discuss this with a technical person? I bought a gadget and found it not working. Your advice will be appreciated.

  31. I used an LG VHS/DVD combo player/recorder to copy a home video. I played the newly made DVD to test it to make sure it copied. It was fine.
    I attempted to play this DVD on a Magnovox DVD player and it would not play. Any ideas on why it would play on the LG but not the Magnovox?

  32. I have been able to copy my vhs tapes to dvd’s using a magnavox combo unit. However, I am trying to make a back up copy of the dvd. I am in two different states…6 months/6 months. I don’t want to have to carry the tapes back and forth any longer and want to open up some storage space. I plan on donating the vhs tapes to the local library.
    I am not having any luck with copying the burned dvd’s on the magnavox with my computer.
    Arghhh!!! Any suggestions?

  33. My video recorder has died. I would like to convert my existing videos to DVD to play on my TV, but I am totally say
    ‘Capture the video to the computer as MPEG-2 using hardware capture devices that convert the VHS to MPEG-2 as they capture.’ How/where do I find such a device. What are such devices called? It seems I could buy something called a combo but it seems expensive. I could perhaps buy another video recorder, but am not sure whether then I should buy a DVD writer to go with the PC together with some software or a DVD writer to use with the TV. I have a DVD player with the TV. The TV is in a different room from the PC. Advice requested

  34. Adding something to help… maybe.

    A) There is a MAJOR problem with using VHS > DVD-R method. Its that DVD-R and CD-R media dies! (It doesn’t matter if its DVD+R or DVD-R, etc). So that after 6~18 months, the discs becomes un-usable. And you still store all these discs that are easily destroyed.

    B) Do what I am doing. Which requires a bit of technical time… and a whole computer if you have a lot of tapes. Copy the VHS tapes to a dedicated computer Hard Drive! That way, you can play the video files any where you want.

    C) Issues: Video capture software copies in full NTSC quality 720×480, which is overkill to VHS is is basiclly 720×320… and if you recorded your shows in EP mode or theres glitches in the tapes… it’ll look even worse.

    So… a 6hr VHS tape can eat up 32~90GB of space, depending on your quality settings and the video itself (grainy video = more space). This is not usable for storage. Sooo…

    I use AVC (Any Video Converter) free on CNET’s download site. to re-encode the videos down… I lower the resolution and the video quality – yes there is a loss.

    But a typical 6 hour video is 2GB… rather than 50GB!

    Now, if the quality of the video is GOOD / shorter (2hr) / extra important, I’d adjust the quality up… so it goes up to 4GB or so, still enough to fit onto a DVD if needed.

    This is a pain. If you are recording a 6hr tape, it will take about 6 hours to also re-encode and compress it. :( I have a dedicated computer, I record batches of tapes, then re-compression them. These are for my own personal use.

    I have about 570 tapes in my collection, its going to take a while!

    I usually use 480×320 @ 768 quality with AVC (make sure audio sync is on Default and to at least 50) – output is AVI (most compatible).

    On an old AMD X2 system… it slow… 1 min to convert takes 1.0~1.3mins of time. On a modern quad core system, that can get down to 30~40 seconds per min of video.

    Hardware: I use the $50 Dazzle DVD Recorder (Name doesn’t quite make sense – but its USB and works very good hooked up to my VCR – which I hope will last another 2000+ hours. UGH.

    With the compression, all these tapes will fit onto a single 2TB HD, which costs about $70~80. I DON’T actually watch these videos – I look at the hand written label or see whats on it for a few seconds – FF to end, reset counter, rewind… then start the copy (This allows me to tell the software included with the Dazzle – How LONG to make the recording! It could be 2hrs, it could be 5h 42m.)

    Next, getting rid of tapes… the garbage is not best IMHO.

  35. you can get the device to hook either vcr or video camera to computer at for under fifty dollars – but i did not realize how much space i would need on computer to download even one copied 2 hr program and if i start burning a dvd+rw – can i go back and put more on it or will computer erase or reformat it so i lose what i have already copied on it – i do have a dvd recorder which i was using with vcr – 6 hrs of video takes 6 hrs to copy onto dvd recorder

    I believe you can if you know what you are doing, but this is not an area where I have a lot of expertise. My recommendation is that you invest in some video editing software and copy the video to your hard disk and edit it before writing it to DVD.


  36. the other comment i have is you can buy a combo vcr/dvd recorder – they do still make them just google around on the web – but the one thing you also need is a tape rewinder – those are becoming very hard to find but one place in vermont still sells them – called country store – they have a catalog – just look them up

  37. Dear
    i have VHS tapes ,, and i dont have DVD ,, how i can convert the VHS tapes to my computer ,, and DVD disc on my computer ,,, please explain for me step by step ,, also i have Dazzle digital Video Creator 80 .. and i have windows 7 ,, dosnt work on it ,,, please tell me wt i can do ,,, thank u and u have great day

  38. One of the services we provide through our business is to convert VHS tapes (home videos only) to DVD. Please contact me if you are interested in our services.

    Laura Brosig
    Chance Records Inc.

  39. Still confused after all this.

    Do I need just a simple USB to RCA (3plug) connector, since I already have the Golden Videos software? Amazon shows them for $3. Some of them are $40, but have a fourth plug on one end. Which one do I really need with the software, a VHS player and my computer?

  40. I have found that the purchasing a cheap usb enabled vcr like the ion vhs to pc unit should be avoided if possible as the cheaper components (most importantly the video heads) will not pick up as much image detail as a higher grade dedicated VCR unit. Although you can rescue these recordings to some degree if you know what you are doing in an editing program (a little color correction and sharpen can do wonders to bring old home movies to life). See if you are interested in digital restoration. I recently used a UK service to transfer some VHS to digital video. The video transfers are uploaded to your own online account making it easy to share your home movies with others.

  41. My daughter recos days of our lives to keep for herself cause she a big fan. She was reco from VHS to dvd now her vhs tapes jump around and want reco right to dvd. She buys new VHS tapes same thing happen the VHS tape plays good in living room she only has vcr in living room. She has a vcr reco / dvd reco in her room. She hits double reco and it jumps around even if she plays it in her room it jumps around. But in living room play like it should. She has cleaned it out dose not work still jumps around. It dose not have tracking on it at how can she reco it to keep on dvd. She record it off cable to VHS then from VHS to dvd now she cant do that. Is there away she can keep doing it the way she is or can she reco to vhs then put it on her laptop then dvd if so how and what dose she need to do. Can she buy something were she can record from cable to keep it on dvd help her please thanks means alot to her she is crazy about this soap opera thanks for your help. She wants it to keep so if it ever goes off the air she can still watch it when she wants.


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