VHS tapes first took off in the United States in the 1970s. They became a popular way for Americans to watch their favorite movies and record videos for nearly three decades. It wasn’t until the DVD took over in the early 2000s that most people finally stopped using the VHS format.
DVDs are less bulky and easier to control. You don’t have to “be kind and rewind” a DVD like you did a VHS tape. Today, even DVDs are fading in popularity with the rise of video streaming. People can make movie-quality home videos with just a click of their smartphone and share the content with all of their friends and family almost instantly.
But what are you supposed to do if you have multiple VHS tapes with family movies? What if your wedding recording is stored in VHS format? If you’re wondering how to watch old VHS video tapes, you have options. Here are a few ways to watch VHS recordings and preserve these memories in the modern era.
Search Thrift Shops and Online Stores
One of the hardest parts of owning VHS tapes today is that most TVs don’t have these systems built in anymore. Television sets used to be bulky and wide – very unlike the flatscreen option you might have hanging on your wall right now. It wasn’t uncommon for VHS players to be installed into the TVs or placed below them. Even TVs from the early 2000s commonly had DVD players built in.
Your first option for how to watch old VHS video tapes is to look online for VHS players. You can find some new options at Walmart or on Amazon. You can also search sites like eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace for anyone who is trying to sell their old units. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $250 for a VHS player and will need to make sure you have the right hookup options to watch VHS recordings on your TV.
If you want to save money, consider visiting thrift shops and estate sales to see if there are any VHS players for sale. You might be able to get a cheap device but there is no guarantee that you will find one during your search.
Invest in a VHS to DVD or Digital Converter
The next option for how to watch old VHS video tapes but don’t want to buy a VHS player is to look into a conversion system. With this choice, you will buy a tool that converts your VHS tapes into DVDs or digital files.
Do your research to make sure this option falls within your budget. Some basic conversion systems can cost between $75 to $150 depending on the technology. Cheaper models only provide the cords to sync different players together.
Along with reviewing your budget, make sure you feel technologically comfortable taking on this project. Some of these VHS conversion systems don’t have detailed instructions and you don’t want to damage your memories by accident. Depending on the number of VHS recordings you have, you also might be taking on a time-consuming project that requires several hours to transfer the footage.
Digitization is a good long-term option if you want to watch VHS recordings on a regular basis. However, making it a DIY project might be more tedious than you realize.
Send Your VHS Tapes to Memory Fortress
The third option for how to watch old VHS video tapes without investing in your own technology is to send your tapes to Memory Fortress’ professional VHS to DVD service. We can easily scan your old recordings and save them on DVDs, on a flash drive, or in the cloud. These formats are meant to last, which means you will always have access to your videos no matter how technology changes.
The process is simple. All you have to do is tell us the number of tapes you plan to send and the format you want the content in. Then ship your VHS tapes to our Atlanta-based office. We will digitize the files and send you the recordings, along with the original tapes for you to save if you want.
With this process, you can easily watch VHS recordings on your computer, smartphone, TV, or any other digital device. You won’t need to invest in additional tools or learn how a digital scanner works. You can save time and choose a long-term solution for your memories.
Convert Your VHS Tapes Sooner Rather Than Later
While the first two solutions allow you to watch VHS recordings in the short run, you might not have access to your video content for much longer. Most VHS tapes lose 10 to 20 percent of their quality over 10 to 25 years. If you want to watch your wedding video from 1991, the film might already be breaking down. Within the next decade, this content could become unwatchable.
It is better to opt for a long-term preservation solution for your VHS tapes instead of looking for short-term ways to watch them. While you might want to watch the video content to see what is on there (and consider whether you want to digitize it) the best solution is to store the video in the cloud where it will always be accessible. It doesn’t matter whether you lose the VHS tapes or your computer breaks, your recordings will always be preserved online.
Start Your Order With Memory Fortress Today
If you are considering converting your VHS tapes with Memory Fortress, look around for other analog media that need to be digitized. Our company can handle photo albums, film rolls, scrapbooks, slides, and just about any format of photos or videos you need scanned. We also have a sliding-scale pricing model, which means the more you send us, the less you pay on a per-image or video rate.
We digitize everything right here at our facility in metro Atlanta, processed by US citizens.