What is the best free software to digitize old VHS tapes?

ender January 29, 2011
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Update (October 2017): Please read our full article on digitizing your old VHS tapes How to Digitize Old VHS Tapes How to Digitize Old VHS Tapes It's time to digitize your old VHS tapes! We'll show you the hardware setup and free software you need to bring your VHS tapes to the 21st century. Read More , which also includes hardware tips.

I already bought a used USB cable converter that can link the VHS recorder with the PC. But as it’s used, I only found the driver, but have no real software which I can use to capture and turn the VHS streams into some format like avi, or mpeg. Can you recommend a freeware doing that? Thanks.

    January 30, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Hello, I would recommend VirtualDub which is a video editor that works really well for capturing video. It is freeware and there are tons of filters. It can be really complex at times and depending on circumstances it can have a pretty high learning curve. It has been around for a while and it works really well with windows 7 32 and 64 bits.

    AVS video recorder is pretty good and really easy to use:

    Tutorial about how to capture video from VHS tape & VCR to DVD using AVS video recorder:

    Golden videos vhs to dvd converter is also easy to use and it is free:

    One thing you have to keep in mind is that to get better quality, it is better if you use an s-vhs player instead of the normal vhs. The original vhs had 240 lines of horizontal resolution and the s-vhs had 420 lines horizontal resolution which creates better definition. Also s-vhs has another important advantage over vhs such as time based correction and the option of using of s-video cables instead of composite.

    With the usb cable converter you bought, you will probably have no problem capturing from vhs to pc. In the old days, you were able to copy movies from vhs to dvd but there was always the problem of the movie stopping after a number of frames and shake for a few frames making the copies unusable unless you trimmed it, but by doing so you were trimming some scenes from the movies. If you on the other hand, were just transferring movies you recorded yourself there was no problem.

    If you have a lot of free space in your pc, make sure you transfer to your pc using an uncompressed format like huffyuv. It would end up as a big file (around 80 GBs for a 2 hour movie) but you do not loose any definition. If you do not have a lot of space use .avi with a least 1200 as bitrate. Another thing to realize is the fact that you will have to edit the video afterwards. For sure you will have to crop the video and fix the colors. Hope this helps.

    • Ender
      January 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      thank you so much for the help and tips!
      the golden video software was really easy, and i manage to capture my tapes.
      I dont have that much space on my laptop, so I make it with less quality.
      also, the vhs tapes were already 15 - 25 years old, so the quality isnt great, I doubt even if i had that much space, , it would not help to imporove the quailty.

      • FIDELIS
        January 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm

        I am glad it work out for you