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How to Convert Your Analog Files to Digital Format

Every few years, it seems like a technology is being replaced by something new. But for many of us, old media hold precious memories. You might have a VHS cassette of your elementary school performance, or a stack of old albums that your grandparents passed on to you.

Regardless of which medium you hold in your hands, to enjoy it to the fullest, you will probably need to digitize it. To do this, you will need some kind of hardware, a cable to connect that hardware to your computer, and software to convert.

With a small initial investment, you will be set up to convert your files further. Here are some of the most popular analog-to-digital conversions and what you will need to implement them.


The first thing you’ll need if you want to transfer old VHS tapes is a VCR. You most likely don’t have one of these late 1900s devices at home, but you can usually find one for less than $ 100 on Amazon or eBay.

You will also need an analog converter with an RCA cable to connect to a VCR at one end and a USB cable at the other end for your computer. When this is done, you will need the software to switch.

Golden Videos VHS to DVD Converter not only converts your VHS tapes to digital files, but also automatically corrects any defects in the video to ensure the highest possible quality. You can burn the files to DVD or share them on sites like YouTube. The full price for a home license is $ 50, but it currently sells for $ 24.99.

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Convert Audio to MP3

A similar process applies if you have audio cassettes at home. You will need an audio cassette player, which you can buy from sites like Amazon for less than $ 30, and a mini-jack RCA cable. Optionally, you can instead buy a PC cassette recorder, which will include everything you need, for less than $ 20.

There is no shortage of tools for transferring audio tapes to digital files, but the free, open source Audacity solution should have everything you need. You can input and export various types of files, including mp3 and WAV.

Photo to JPG

If you lived before the era of smartphones, chances are you have a shoebox full of old pictures. Unlike digital photographs, these old prints fade over time. By converting these old photos to digital files, you will not only save them for the future, but you can also use software to restore some of the quality that they have lost.

To convert photos to JPG format, you first need a scanner, which you can buy from any office supply or electronics store. Photoshop is great for recovering photos, but can be quite expensive.

The GIMP does a similar job and is available for free. You will have access to the color adjustments required for faded photos, as well as clone and mask tools to touch up areas that have suffered over time.

Vinyl to MP3

Whether you are on the current vinyl trend or just have an attic full of old albums, converting them means you can listen to songs on your favorite mobile device. However, to convert them, you need a player with USB output. You can find budget versions of them, but you may have to upgrade to a more expensive version if you want the best quality.

Once your hardware is connected to your computer, you need the software to get started. The Audacity package recommended for audio cassettes will also work here, but Pure Vinyl is designed specifically for moving albums to digital files. However, this software is not cheap. You will need to pay $ 379 for a license.

When converting analog files to digital, the biggest cost is often associated with the purchase of equipment. For this reason, you will probably only want to invest if you have an ongoing need for these transformations.

However, once you have everything ready, you will likely find that your friends and family will want you to help them convert their VHS, audio tapes, albums, or photos to high-quality digital versions.

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