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Convert VHS to MP4 Before Your Precious Memories Disappear: Step-By-Step Guide

Convert VHS to MP4 Step By Step

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:18 am

Do you have a bunch of VHS tapes that have been lying around for years?

Do these tapes contain precious memories that you ought to pass on to the next generation and the next?

If so, you should no longer procrastinate and get down to digitizing or turning them into digital files.

In other words, converting pyour VHS tapes to MP4

Why Convert VHS to MP4?

You may be wondering why convert your VHS collection to MP4. Especially when the VHS tapes play well over your VCR.

Well, they may play well in short term. However, over time there’s a high chance of them falling victim to the ravages of time.

Your tapes ‘decay’ over time and may become brittle. Worse, they may fall victim to mold attacks.

VHS mold

If you have moldy tapes, playing your tapes or converting them to digital would be a tricky affair.

Why, if the situation is really bad, you may end up losing precious memories. It has happened before.

So, make hay while the sun still shines. Convert your VHS tapes to MP4.

Why MP4?

Many years back, the trend was to convert VHS tapes to DVDs. This was a good way of digitizing your movies.

DVD Disadvantage

Many think DVDs last forever. That’s not true. DVDs are susceptible to DVD rot. This condition is as bad as VHS tape mold.

DVD rot

There’s the risk of losing your precious memories forever.

The disadvantage of converting VHS to DVDs is you need a playback device. You need either a DVD player or a DVD drive on your computer.

DVD players are no longer in vogue. Most modern computers and laptops don’t come with DVD drives.

Unless you have the equipment, converting VHS to DVD is no longer an attractive option.

MP4 Advantage

MP4 is a universal video format. You can play it back over your computer, smartphone, TV box and even your HDTV, just to mention a few devices.

Also, MP4 can be easily edited and compressed to be delivered to different platforms.

You don’t need shelf space as you would need for DVDs.

You can save MP4 to thumb drives, external hard drives, and also to cloud services like Google Drive.

You can play your MP4 videos with your existing modern devices or equipment.

What’s more, you can even upload your MP4 videos to video-sharing platforms like YouTube or messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook.

You don’t have to buy any expensive storage medium apart from what you have.

That said, let’s look at the equipment you would need to convert VHS to MP4.

What Do You Need to Convert VHS to MP4?

VHS Player

The only way to play VHS tapes is through a VHS player or VCR. You may also use an S-VHS player.


You have other choices though. You may use a VHS camcorder or video camera.

You may also use a VCR DVD combo. With this unit, you can easily convert your VHS to DVD without additional equipment.

You may then rip the DVD to MP4 using a computer DVD drive and a free DVD ripper software program.

There are also VHS players with HDMI.

Video Capture Device

Once you have your VHS playback device, you will need to connect it to a video capture device.

This device would convert the analog video signal from the VCR and turn it into a digital format.

Types of Video Capture Devices

There are two types of video capture devices. The first is the USB video capture device.

The second is the standalone video capture device.

USB Video Capture Device with a Computer

A USB video capture device works with a computer. It acts as a bridge between the VCR and the computer.

All you have to do is plug the USB end into your computer. Then, connect your VHS player to the AV input.

Analog video signal sent from the VHS player is converted to digital with the USB video capture device.

The converted signal is then sent to the computer. On the computer, a software program captures the digital signal. This program usually comes bundled with the video capture device.

The digital signal is stored as a video file, usually as an MP4 file.

This is the easiest and cheapest way to convert VHS to MP4.

If you fancy this route, take a few minutes to check out some USB video capture ideas.

Also, learn more about how a USB video capture device works.

VHS to MP4 without a Computer

If you don’t fancy using a computer to convert VHS to MP4, then you may use a standalone video converter device.

All you have to do is to connect the AV output of your VCR to the AV input of the standalone analog to digital video converter.

You can see a preview of the captured video during the transfer process. You can also connect the device to your HDTV through the HDMI port. This will allow you to preview the video on a large screen.

The captured video will be stored in a flash drive or external hard drive attached to the video converter.

After the video is captured, you may edit it on your computer with the software program that comes bundled with the video converter package.

Interested? You may want to check out standalone VHS to MP4 converters like the one in the video.

Also, learn more about how to convert VHS to MP4 without a computer.

Those were the steps on how to convert VHS to MP4.

Why Learn to Convert VHS to MP4?


One of the easiest ways to convert VHS to MP4 is to send your tapes to a tape-to-digital conversion service.

You save the trouble of buying equipment and setting it up.

This is a fine option if you have a tape or two to convert. But what if you have dozens of tapes to digitize?

The cost of converting a VHS tape to an MP4 starts at around USD 20. Imagine how much you have to pay if you have dozens of tapes.

You’ll be paying a huge sum to get your tapes converted to digital. So, you’ll enjoy huge savings if you go the DIY route.

Part Conversion

Sometimes, you may need only a portion of the tape to be converted. If you send it to a conversion service, you would have to pay the rate of a full tape conversion.

If you’re doing it yourself, you may convert a portion of the tape first. Then, when you have the time, you can carry on with the rest.


Will your tapes be safe with a tape-to-digital service? Anything may happen when your tape leaves home.

If you’re shipping your tapes over, they may go missing or get damaged. Similarly, at the tape-to-digital service, anything may happen.

As you’ll likely be converting your irreplaceable precious memories, you would not want to take the risk.


You may not wish others to view your tape content. If so, it’s best to go the DIY route to protect your privacy.


Chances are you’ll need to edit your converted footage. Maybe you want to replace the audio and add titles and so on.

If you leave editing to a tape conversion service, you would have to pay more.

Also, you may need to spend time sitting with a video editor to guide him as to your requirements.

Or if you leave the editing to the service, the editing may not be to your liking.

If you learn VHS to MP4 yourself, you’ll have more control over your video.

Working at Your Pace

You have more time to decide which tape to convert first and which not to convert. If you are sending your tapes to a service, you may send many tapes at a time to cut costs.

You may end up not watching some of the tapes. When you do it yourself, you’ll most likely convert the tape(s) you want to watch.

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