How to Upload VHS Tapes Onto a Computer

by Kent Ninomiya

In this digital age, many people are wondering how to upload VHS tapes onto a computer. Those old VHS tapes are decaying, and if you don't convert them to a digital format soon, the memories on them may be gone forever. You have several options to make sure that doesn't happen.

Getting a DVD burner is the easiest way to convert VHS tapes to digital. Simply connect the outputs of the VCR into the inputs of the DVD recorder. Press "Play" on the VCR and "Record" on the DVD burner and you will get a copy in real time. Once it is burned to a DVD, you can play it on your computer or download it to your computer's hard drive.

Use an analog-to-MPEG converter box. This is also a relatively simple process, but requires you to buy a device you may only use a few times. They are relatively cheap and convert your VHS tapes to MPEG2 files. The files go straight into your computer.

Go through the editing program on your computer. Your program must convert your VHS tapes to DV format. This will encode them to MPEG2 files. There are pros and cons to this method. Since your video will be in DV format, it can be easily edited on your computer. However, this downloading process takes much longer than the others. You also need the proper cables to connect your VCR to your computer.

Consider reducing the resolution when converting VHS tapes to MPEG2 files. Many devices and software allow you to convert at half resolution. The quality is still pretty good, and you will be able to fit a lot more information into the limited space of a DVD. Otherwise, it may take more than one DVD to hold the contents of a 2-hour VHS tape.

Pay someone to do it for you. There are many companies that will convert your VHS tapes to DVD or an external hard drive for a price. You can then play the digital files on your computer or download them to your hard drive.


  • close All of these methods require patience and a little tinkering. Computers sometimes freeze when crunching the massive data it takes to upload VHS tapes. It can be frustrating and take a lot of time. Just remember: Once you finish, you can throw out those old VHS tapes and never use them again.

About the Author

Kent Ninomiya is a veteran journalist with over 23 years experience as a television news anchor, reporter and managing editor. He traveled to more than 100 countries on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Ninomiya holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences with emphasis in history, political science and mass communications from the University of California at Berkeley.