Low Cost Business Idea – VHS to DVD Transfer Service

Homepreneurs has another home business idea for you: offer a service that transfers VHS tapes to DVDs.  VHS players are all but gone, yet millions of tapes exist in home video libraries.  Family memories recorded on camcorders, old movies or important historical information are examples.

The Problem:

VHS tapes are sensitive to sunlight, heat, water or hungry VHS players with a taste for precious tapes.  Storage is another concern; VHS boxes and tapes require much greater space than slim DVDs and jewel cases.  Further, VHS tapes are difficult to search, forcing a watcher to fast-forward, stop and watch, fast-forward, etc.

A Business Solution:

Transfer VHS tapes to DVD or Blue-Ray using an VCR, software, cables, and a computer with a DVD burner.  The computer you probably own; if not, an inexpensive computer with DVD burner costs less than $500.  DVD burners can be purchased separately for less than $50 from many local computer stores.  Check the models of each for compatibility.  Software packages with cables included can be purchased at Walmart, Costco or other retailers for around $50.  Roxio has a solid reputation as a software vendor; Honest Technologies is another option.

The Process:

The process is simple: Install the software, hook up your VCR to the included connectors, then plug the connectors into your computer. Copy your VHS tapes’ images to the computer’s hard drive and then burn the images to a DVD.  Customize the DVD and add Hollywood style menus and chapters for impressive results.  The same process may be used for transferring videos to iPod or PSP too or LPs and tapes to CDs.  Make the product unique by labeling songs automatically with title, artist and genre information.

Market the Product:

Develop a clever name and tag line, order free business cards through VistaPrint, start a blog or web site, and get some free or low-cost publicity.  Finally, do some market research and price your service accordingly.  Display your service at local craft and art shows, and promote your business for free using the Internet.

People will pay you to provide this service: For some it is a major time saver, for others the technical challenges are too great.  This is an inexpensive and desirable business opportunity.  Price and advertise the business correctly and you will be successful!

I’ve successfully used the Roxio product to record multiple DVDs from older VHS tapes.  These are VHS tapes I purchased years ago and have the legal right to make a single (backup) copy for personal use.

Some tips from my experiences:

– Additional cables (either RCA or S2 video) are required and are not supplied with the software package.  Do not open the box and expect to instantly play and record.

– To set pricing of your service, calculate the capital costs – software, hardware, hourly wages – and price accordingly.  Remember you are providing a service and should be cost-competitive.

– The basic process is simple: load the software, connect the cables, follow the instructions, and start recording.  Advanced features such as editing or scene setting are more complex and require experience.

This is a good side business to consider.  It is relatively simple and generally uses equipment you probably own.  Buy the software and cables, get free business cards, market your service and instant business!  It is also a great gift idea for those difficult to buy for people.

– By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010 – 2013

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5 thoughts on “Low Cost Business Idea – VHS to DVD Transfer Service”

    1. This is an excellent question. Searching the Internet, I generally found information that suggests that a personal copy is part of the ‘fair use’ doctrine. Here is an opinion:

      Dear Pillowy,

      I’ll add a little more information. It is generally considered legal (under the Fair Use Doctrine) to format-shift content (e.g. copy from VHS to DVD) and to produce personal backup copies. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s article on the matter:

      Although the legal basis is not completely settled, many lawyers believe that the following (and many other uses) are also fair uses:

      Space-shifting or format-shifting – that is, taking content you own in one format and putting it into another format, for personal, non-commercial use. For instance, “ripping” an audio CD (that is, making an MP3-format version of an audio CD that you already own) is considered fair use by many lawyers, based on the 1984 Betamax decision and the 1999 Rio MP3 player decision (RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia, 180 F. 3d 1072, 1079, 9th Circ. 1999.)
      Making a personal back-up copy of content you own – for instance, burning a copy of an audio CD you own.

      However, this comes with a caveat. The DMCA made it illegal to circumvent a copy-protection mechanism for any reason (including reasons that fall under Fair Use). You may not realize it, but some VHS tapes do have a copy-protection mechanism. The most common VHS copy-protection mechanism is Macrovision. Thanks to the DMCA, making a Fair Use backup or producing a Fair Use format-shifted copy of a VHS tape “protected” in this way is illegal (however, owning a backup or format-shifted copy is not).

      Given that “ethical” and “legal” are not fungible, I have no personal issue with people who violate the DMCA in order to exercise their Fair Use rights.

      -Curious Physics Minor (retrieved from http://theboard.byu.edu/questions/65052/. 3-22-2012)

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