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Once upon a time there was the Video Cassette on which you could record videos from your TV. Then came the D.V.D, but now, with ever more new developing formats, there are Mpeg 1, Mpeg 2, DIV X, WMV, FLV, IVR, SWF, MP4 and the list goes on. Unfortunately as the list of formats grows so does the requirement for different players on which to play them, as yet no one player will play all formats.

Starting with the Video Cassette, there are several ways in which you can convert your old tapes into a digital format that your computer will play. It is possible to buy a relatively cheap video cassette player that will play and record your tapes directly onto DVD’s, but do remember that some TV based recorders will register the fact that some of the last video cassettes to be made had the dreaded DRM type system encoded to prevent copying. Another way to convert your videotapes is to buy a special adapter lead/program that goes into your computer via a USB socket from your old video cassette player, so that you can record the video directly on your computer. Some Video Cassette players also now available ready wired with a USB outlet to plug directly into your computer. It is also possible to have a TV card with Video Phono or S.Plug input sockets fitted in your computer so that you can connect your old video to play directly into your computer as you might hook it up to another video recorder. I believe there is also a transmitter device that can be plugged into the output sockets of your Video Cassette Player that will transmit the pictures round your house to be received, or recorded, as any other transmission, by your TV or Computer (Via a TV Dongle). A more round about way still, if you have an old Video Cassette player and a modern TV recorder, is too play the tapes through your TV and then out to record them onto the newer recorder, (DVD Recorder, TV Digital Hard Drive Recorder) but you may have to rewire the aerial leads for this. This method should get round any DRM problem, but quality will be poorer.

Many people have built up a collection of DVD’s and would like to make back up copies as they can easily get damaged and become unplayable as can CD's. This is easy enough to do with a DVD recording facility, either on your computer or some TV DVD recorders. However, it is not as easy to back up your collection on your computer as you might already do with your music CD’s. The first problem is that many DVD’s simply will not copy onto your computer hard drive because of protection and if you do it is not a straightforward matter to play them. They do not play readily in the same way as “Ripped” CD’s will. You can play DVD discs with the standard Windows Media Player, but to play videos from your hard drive you really need a media player such as Power DVD that can readily be bought.

With regard to videos that are protected from copying it is worth noting that the music industry is having many discussions as to removing copy protection from all recordings that are sold. Many music downloads are now available without copy protection and it is likely that videos will follow. In the meantime you can buy/download programs that will open/decrypt your DVD’s so that you can copy them onto your hard drive. Some, such as DVD Shrink will also reduce the size of the recording on disc. Certain bought DVD’s are over the standard 4.7 gig of a normal DVD, so with this program you can compress them down to 4.7 for re-recording. However, with double layer DVD’s now common on home computers, this isn’t really necessary and with ever bigger had drives it is possible to back up some 200 odd standard length DVD’s onto a “One Terra Byte” hard drive. (You can easily add extra hard drives to most full sized PC’s)

Since writing this instructional page I have found out that it is actually illegal to copy DVD's (Even for home use) that you have legitimately purchased. CD's can be copied/ripped for home use using the Windows Media Player, but not DVD's, I guess because CD's are produced mostly by the Music Industry and most DVD's are produced courtesy of the film industry. Using programs like DVD Shrink or RealDVD are at the moment illegal, but there is a big court case going on that may alter things.

You Tube is now a popular source of video entertainment for many younger people on their computers from the internet and you can easily download most videos from it as you can from Google Videos. (Connection from the Google homepage) There are several points to bear in mind when doing this though.

  1. Many ISP’s (Your Internet Service Connection Provider) have a limit on your usage and if you download too many videos you could have your Internet service either restricted in some way, or have a surcharge imposed for unreasonable usage.  To Test Your Internet Connection Speed Click Here..

  2. You can find videos on you tube with a standard type search box and play them at will, but to download them you need to move your mouse cursor towards the top of the video play box and a download link will appear. (If you have RealPlayer installed) However, the download speed is somehow connected to the viewing point that you are watching on the recording. If you wait to download the video clip ‘till after watching halfway through the video it will download almost immediately.

  3. After downloading you will need a “Player” to watch the clips as many video clips seem to be in formats called FLV, SWF or IVR all of which the Windows Media Player will not play, but one easily obtainable player that will, is the “Real Player” and I am sure there must be others available to download free over the Internet. (Try the VLC Media Player from )