F.A.Q. How can I watch my old video tapes?

By | 7th March 2018

Question from Frank, “I have some VHS 180 video tapes of my children when they were young. I want to show the videos to my grandchildren but do not have a video player. Can you help me and what would you recommend?”

In this video we explain the options for digital conversion of old video tapes so that they can be watched now and in the future. This video is intended to be easy to understand and avoids technical jargon where possible. This short film covers the basics but there may be something you’d like to know that we haven’t discussed in enough detail.  If so we will be happy to hear from you and provide answers either by email or over the phone.

More information about our conversion services can be found here.



Welcome to the first episode of Dear Manchester Video where we answer questions sent into us via our website manchestervideo.com. Simon’s got a question from Frank about VHS video tapes.

This is franks question.

Dear Manchester Video, I have some VHS one eighty tapes of my children when they were young. I want to show the videos to my grandchildren but no longer have a video player. Can you help and what would you recommend?

To answer Franks question. He’s got two choices at the moment so our recommendations are either DVD….

Yeah, which I guess most people are familiar with and have got a player.

A standard DVD-R which is the type of disc that we use will hold two hours of good quality video from VHS tape

So if you’ve got say in Frank’s case, three tapes, he’s going to need three disks probably isn’t he – Basically he’s not likely to get them all onto one disk?

No, not at all. If one of the tapes is full and has got the full three hours on it we would go onto a second disc. So the first two hours would be on disc 1 with the remainder of that tape on disc 2. That’s how that works. The other option for Frank is to have the video transferred to digital MP4 file.

An MP4 file is…an standard?

It is, certainly for the last five years or more, a lot more actually probably about 8 years MP4 files are ubiquitous. They are compatible with pretty much everything. iPhones, iPads, SmartTVs, laptops, computers, across the board.

You can play them on anything?

Yeah it’s the most widely compatible digital video file format that there is.

That’s an MP4?

Yes, we’d normally supply those….

How many MP4 files can you get on a ….Will it be 1 MP4 file for each video tape?

They would yeah in general. They’re are some minor exceptions but in general each tape would become its own MP4 file. We put those onto a USB stick for delivery. In most cases people are familiar with those you can put him in the side of a SmartTV. They’re really easy to transport, really easy to backup. They don’t take up a lot of shelf space and going forward in the future the USB files are more likely to be compatible with playback devices such as televisions.

Perhaps when his grandchildren want to play them to their kids. They’d still be able to see them on what they have?

Yes. That’s right. If Frank is happy with DVDs, and he might well be, that might be the best option. He may have a DVD player and be quite happy with that.

He may not have a SmartTV?

Correct yeah. So if Frank wants a DVD but the grandchildren might want copies themselves, and they would prefer to have the MP4 file, have both. So DVD and MP4 files.

So he’s actually got three choices?

Yes. So to cover all bases have both. Going forward DVD players are going to become less common to certainly not in all computers any more. Digital video files are going to be around for a lot longer than the DVDs.

A lot longer than I am anyway…..

Possible [laughing] And longer than me.

So that’s fine, it seems as if we’ve answered Frank’s question there as to what he’s going to get if we transfer the files for him.

Thank you to Frank for asking the question. Thanks to Simon for helping us get to the answers. If you’ve got a question visit us at manchestervideo.com click on the contact us button to send us your question and we’ll try to answer it for you. Thanks for watching.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *