How to Convert Cassette and VHS Tapes into Digital Files
You’ve got dozens of mix tapes and home videos that you no longer listen to or watch. Learn how to preserve your memories by converting them into digital files.
It’s time to transfer your old home videos, mix tapes, and band recordings into digital files. You have dozens of old tapes that you no longer listen to or watch simply because of the format they’re in. Maybe you want to try out that new minimalism trend, or maybe you want to further preserve your files and make them more accessible. Whatever your reason, you can now transform your old tapes into digital files.
It’s not an easy or fast process, and it will cost you some money, but it might be worth the hassle to more concretely preserve old tapes and fond memories. The following will give you a taste of what that process is like.
How to Turn Your Cassette Tapes into Digital Files
For this process, you’ll need access to a tape deck. There are also newer options available (about $100-$150) that were specifically built to convert cassettes into digital files. You will then need the proper cables to connect your tape deck to your computer. This can vary, but usually includes a stereo cable and a USB audio adaptor for your computer. Once your devices are properly connected, download a software program to “read” the audio files, like Audacity or QuickTime. These programs will allow you to convert your cassette tapes into high quality digital files. You’ll play the tape on the tape deck, and your computer will record it. There are many in-depth guides online for this process; unfortunately, it’s fairly complicated and can involve a lot of trial and error until you get the quality file that you want.
How to Turn Your VHS Tapes into Digital Files
This is a much easier process than converting cassettes to digital files. You’ll need a VHS player, along with a device to convert your VHS tapes into digital files for storage on your computer. Look for a “video capture” device on Amazon; it will be a type of adaptor with RCA cables and a USB. Prices typically range from about $15 to $40. The first step is to connect the RCA cables from the adaptor to the VCR. Then connect the adaptor’s USB to your computer. You’ll essentially play the video on your VCR while it’s connected to your computer, and your computer will use video capture software to “read” the video. There are some good free software options available, but for the purpose of quality you may want to invest in video capture software (about $30-$70).