Like many families, your events likely involve an appointed videographer following everyone around with a shoulder-mounted or hand-strapped camera. Because of this, you also likely have countless VHS tapes full of family footage in a forgotten drawer. Since VHS players no longer grace the shelves of electronics and big box stores, your best bet is to convert VHS to DVD.

What is the best way to convert VHS to DVD? The answer depends on your technological savvy and your budget.

VHS-DVD Combo Recorders

A VHS-DVD combo recorder might be the best conversion strategy if you already own such a device. However, if you must buy a combo recorder first, this gadget can set you back between $100 and $200. This method doesn't allow you to edit or splice the original recording either, so you're left with a straight conversion   even if Aunt Edna recorded 15 minutes of footage of her prized fruitcake.

Still, the process is simple. You insert the chosen VHS tape into the VHR section of the device, then load a blank DVD disc into the other slot. After following the manufacturer's instructions for dubbing the original, you can watch the DVD to verify the process worked.

Analog-to-Digital Adapter

A high-quality analog-to-digital adapter is one of the easiest way to convert VHS to DVD. It is also the least expensive, especially if you already have a VCR, as you'll only need to purchase the adapter. Effective and inexpensive options like the Diamond Video Capture VC500 or the Roxio Easy VHS to DVD 3 Plus make this a good option.

The Diamond VC500, for example, offers multiple capture formats, excellent customer support and compatibility with most operating systems at a low cost. Because it doesn t require much know-how to set up and operate, it s ideal for consumers with no experience transferring VHS tapes to DVD discs.

To use analog-to-digital adapters, simply plug the USB end of the plug into your desktop computer or laptop and the RCA or S-Video ends into the VCR. You need to install the accompanying software on your computer, which should only take a few minutes and is usually done with either a physical CD-ROM or a digital download.

After you choose a video from your VHS collection and insert it into the VCR, place a blank DVD disc into the CD-ROM drive, making sure it is compatible with your chosen software program. You then follow the adapter's instructions to record the content of the VHS tape onto your DVD.

Not only is this strategy simple and cheap, but it also allows you to modify the original footage. If you want to add music, for example, or cut extraneous footage, you can use a video editing software program to improve it before you transfer it to the DVD.

Separate VHS Player and DVD Recorder

This is similar to the VHS-DVD combo recorder method, except that it requires two separate devices: a DVD recorder and a VCR. While this option is simple in both preparation and execution, it lacks the features and frills of the analog-to-digital adapter strategy, which means you're left with the footage in essentially the same condition as you found it on the VHS tape.

All you have to do is insert the VHS tape into the VCR and a DVD disc into the recorder. You connect the two devices using their RCA connections then follow the manufacturer's instructions to record the footage onto the DVD.

VHS-to-DVD Conversion Service

If you don't want to convert your VHS tapes to DVDs yourself, big box and electronics stores, as well as by-mail services are willing to accept your precious memories. While this method does cost the most, it doesn't require any technical expertise or effort on your part. It can take up to three weeks to get your DVDs back.

Regardless of the method you choose, ensure high quality by cleaning your VHS tapes prior to the transfer and read the user manuals for whatever hardware you use. Always verify that the blank DVDs you purchase are compatible with both the hardware and the software.

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