There Is, And Isn’t, A “One-Size-Fits-All” Answer
First, different people have different preferences for home movie storage. Some people just throw old 8mm reels or VHS tapes in a box, which then resides in a closet or a basement until the end of time. Other people are very careful to keep footage as “contemporary” as possible. Still others will only keep some home movies, and throw out others.
So on the one hand, everyone has their preferences. However, on the other, there is a “best” way to assure all footage is retained in one location, and in a way that will stand the test of time. What is that way? You need to digitize analog recordings. You might put them on a DVD, you might put it on an SSD, or even an HDD; whatever works best for you.
Here we’ll explore these options in detail to help you determine which is best for your particular situation and technological acumen.
Needed Digital Space
Two hours of footage will be 700 MegaBytes (MB) to 6,144 MBs (6.144 gigs, approximately). Now most computers are going to have much more space than that. A terabyte of hard drive space is approximately 1,000,000 MBs, or 1,000 GBs (GigaBytes). So that means you could fit 325 to 2,857 hours of footage on a single terabyte.
You can pick up a 1 TB drive for between $50 and $200, depending on brand, quality, shipping, and availability. So at minimum, if you’re going to store hours of home movie footage on a device, you’ll want to have a few dozen gigabytes, or gigs, to work with. If your computer is older, this could be a problem, and you might want to just use an external drive.
That said, even phones have substantial storage today. A smartphone that was “new” in 2019 would commonly come with between 50 and 100 GBs on its tiny little drive. Most of the “cheap” computers you’ll pick up at Walmart or Best Buy have 50 to 500 GBs as well. Provided you don’t have a lot of other files to work with, that should be enough.
Means Of Digitizing Home Movies
When you know you have enough space, the next step is to assure the way in which you digitize home movie films matches your ultimate storage choice. You’ve got three primary options. The link will provide you with an initial choice that you can augment as necessary. Through the link, you can have home movies transferred to a DVD.
Now a DVD tends to average about 4.7 GBs of storage space; so between 7 films that are two hours or less, and not quite one full film in HD. Meanwhile, Blu-Ray disks tend to store between 25 and 50 gigs of data; so you might consider that as a holding “area” for especially high-definition “home movies”.
That said, most home movies aren’t “HD”. Most home movies will be well under 700 MBs, and once you’ve got the analog film transferred to a digital format and contained on either DVD, Blu-Ray, or whatever media you prefer, it’s time to think about long-term storage.
There are two primary best practices. You can keep all the information on an HDD or an SSD. HDD stands for “Hard Disk Drive”, whereas SSD stands for “Solid State Drive”. HDDs have moving parts, so they wear out quicker. SSDs have no moving parts, like a thumb drive, so they tend to last a lot longer. You can transfer to HDD or SSD from DVD or Blu-Ray.
Making The Best Choice
So what’s ultimately going to work best for you? Well, you’ll want to digitize your home movies, and that is best done through a service who specializes in the transferral. Between 8mm and VHS tapes, this process can be quite involved.
As you’re doing that, you’ll want to know how much space you’ll ultimately need; sometimes you can determine some of this in advance by telling the people doing the transferral whether they should go with associated “HD” options or not based on the analog footage.
You’ll have 325 to 2,857 on one TB of storage space. You can store from there on DVD, Blu-Ray, HDD, or SSD. Now this digitization move may not work best for everyone, but it can work well, and it makes the process of transferring footage to future generations much easier. At minimum, hopefully this helps you inform your choice of 8MM/VHS transferral.