If your most cherished family memories are stored away on old VHS tapes, you need to act now. As time passes, videotapes lose their magnetic signal. The sharpness, quality and color deteriorate. Worst of all, the tape grows brittle and breaks as it’s played.
To preserve the content of your videotapes, digitizing them is a must. Here are three services that make it simple to modernize your old video collection.
Costco offers a digital transfer service through its Photo Center. You can transfer several types of videotapes to DVDs including VHS and S-VHS, Beta, VHS-C, Hi8, Digital 8, 8mm and MiniDV.
The service includes two personalized DVDs with intelligent chapters, personalized themes and custom music. Each transfer begins at $19.99 and each DVD can hold up to two hours of video. If the footage on your tape exceeds the two-hour limit, the content will be split onto two DVDs and you'll be charged as if you'd placed two separate orders.
You can place your order using Costco's website and drop off your tapes at your local store. When your DVDs are ready, simply pick them up and take them back home to enjoy. Just make sure the footage you provide them is not copyrighted material.
Every transfer you make also comes with your own private online account at no extra cost as long as you remain an active user. This online account lets you view your transferred videos from any computer or device. To keep your account active, you must view or share videos at least once per year.
Costco's digital transfer service is not limited to videotapes. You can also transfer film reels, 35mm slides, photo prints and memory cards to DVDs.
Walgreens is another retail location that offers a digital transfer service. With Walgreens Photo, you can transfer videotapes, movie films, HD videos and photographs onto DVDs.
The pricing for Walgreen's service is complex. DVDs cost $24.99 per videotape, plus an additional $9.99 for the DVD itself. If you'd prefer to have the final footage in Blu-ray format, the cost is $20. Movie films cost $19.99 for 50 feet of film, plus $9.99 per DVD and are only accepted in 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm formats.
Walgreens also offers cloud storage for a monthly fee of $4.99. This service allows you to share or watch your films with anyone, anywhere, at any time. If you're on the fence about whether or not the cloud is worth it, your first order includes a one-month free trial.
Walmart also offers a DVD transfer service. Videotapes, movie film, photographs and slides, and digital media can all be transferred to DVD.
Like Costco, Walmart places a two-hour limit per DVD. The cost is $24.96 to transfer one VHS tape, which makes it the more expensive option. However, transferring movie film is cheaper at Walmart than it is at Walgreens. The first 100 feet of film costs $24.96, and you'll be charged $.20 per foot thereafter. Additional DVDs cost under $9.96 and additional Blu-rays cost $13.96.
If you're still not ready to part with your old VHS tapes, Walmart also offers a special service to repair any that are damaged. This service costs $19.96.
Bonus: The DIY Way
If handing over your private tapes makes you nervous, transfer them to DVD yourself. To do this, you'll need a DVD Recorder and VCR Combo.
This device features 1080p up-conversion and 2-way dubbing. This way, you are able to transfer from VHS tapes to DVDs and vice versa. Another advantage to this method is that it can record up to six hours of footage. It's also equipped with an HDMI output.
The advantage to purchasing your own DVD Recorder and VCR Combo is that it’s actually the cheapest option if you need to transfer your entire VHS library. You can also share it with friends and family members.
It’s easier to use than you might think. Just power the recorder on, insert your VHS tape into the VCR slot and insert a blank DVD-R into the DVD tray. Press “record” and your footage will begin transferring. When the transfer is complete, press “play” on the DVD player to confirm everything was transferred properly.
Once you’ve brought your video library into the 21st century, don’t stop there. Click here for three ways to modernize your old slides and photos.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks.