Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Preserving VHS tape at a time!

We’re in clean out mode around here.  After living in this house for almost 15 years, we’ve accumulated a lot of, well, “stuff.”  It’s like clutter-city in my house.  And while I distinctly remember saying, “I’ll never do this again” at the end of the last garage sale I had, well, apparently I mis-spoke.  Mom was right, never say never!

As I was in the basement’s “clutter,” I mean “back room” trying to remove the garage sale “goodies” so that we could move our daughter, Kelsey’s, college “stuff” back into the house for the summer, I ran across several VHS tapes.

If your family is like mine, you have VHS tapes of every birthday of your children, their first steps, every play, soccer game, volleyball tournament, holiday, homecoming event, prom…all the way through high school graduation. 

But what do you do with them?  Obviously, I can’t get rid of them.  It is our family’s history after all.  And we do on occasion torture people by pulling out a tape and putting it in the antequated VCR.  It’s really hysterical, or so we think…I’m not sure about our guests… to laugh at our hair styles or reminisce about “back then.” 

So, getting rid of them isn’t an option.  But, if I leave them on VHS tapes, I risk that the tape will eventually deteriorae and be no longer viewable or let’s face it, VHS recorders are almost extinct these days and eventually will be. 

So, I looked into transferring the tapes to DVD.  Sure, this won’t solve my problem forever because the DVD disc will also eventually deteriorate and become obsolete, but I figure it buys me a good chunk of time to figure out another long-term storage solution. 

Paying someone to transfer my pile of, oh, about 100 VHS tapes wasn’t very feasible, and when I looked into this about two years ago, the technology required storing the data from the VHS onto my computer hard drive before burning it to a DVD.  I would have had to invest in a separate hard drive to make that happen and honestly that was WAY too much work and expense.

But as technology goes, just give it a year or two and you’ll have some much better options.

I just bought Honest Technology’s VHS to DVD 4.0 Plus, a video capture device that supposedly connects between my VCR and computer and will allow my computer to capture the video and then directly burn it to a DVD.  I won’t need to buy a new, bigger hard drive and it will burn the DVD without being temporarily stored on my computer.  Win/win!

While this certainly is less expensive, a much more efficient use of my computer and time, of course, it isn’t perfect.  It burns the data in real time which means that I’ll be sitting here waiting and watching as each VHS tape is transferred minute by painful minute.

That’s 100 tapes at oh, say, three hours each (some likely have as much as six or eight hours) or 300 hours of video.  If I can stomach doing three tapes a week, that’s over 33 weeks or about eight plus months. UGH!  And I thought the blogathon was a commitment.  Puts everything into perspective, doesn’t it?

So, that’s my next project after the blogathon ends on June 1. 

I’d love to hear if you’ve transferred your VHS tapes to DVD and what you thought or if you have a better solution. 


  1. You are a brave woman. Well, maybe it will make the blogathon look easy. :)

  2. Good luck with this project. I still use my vcr and will continue to do so until it breaks. When that happens I have another one on standby. I love my VHS.