Consumer Reports: How to digitize family photos, videos

ROANOKE, Va. – This holiday season, you’ll probably take lots of pictures of family and friends, but what about all the old prints, slides, or even home movies on VHS or film you have tucked away somewhere?

We’re working for you to share how you can turn those family memories into digital files so they’re preserved forever.

After nearly 20 years of stashing old physical pictures and videos away, Consumer Reports Tech Editor Melanie Pinola knew preserving them was too big a task to do herself.

“It’s kind of like a mental burden or a mental weight to have them sitting there and not do anything with them,” she said.

So, Melanie digitized hundreds of family photos and videos as part of her research for Consumer Reports. She checked out 14 companies — sending her personal pics to several of them.

“These services will take your physical media, your photos, your negatives, your slides. and then they’ll turn them into digital files so it’s easier for you to save, backup, and share with family and friends,” she said.

They also do VHS tapes, movie reels, and audio tapes.

Pack them in a box to send them off, and in return, you can get a thumb drive or a digital link for downloading. And yes, you also get your originals back.

“Even though it was scary to send my stuff out, it was really easy actually to do. and quicker than I thought,” Melanie said.

In just eight days, Melanie’s digitized photos from “Memories Renewed” were complete.

“The quality of the photos matched the actual print. and it had the most color fidelity. and they also just had like really great customer service from start to finish,” Melanie said.

For her budget pick, Melanie chose Digmypics.

CR said they even let you preview your scanned photos and delete up to 20 percent of them from your order, in case you decide you don’t need or want them.

Some tips from Melanie before starting a project like this: try to pace yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed while sorting, and expect to laugh and cry.

“I think it’s also an emotional project because there were some photos I found of people that had passed away. I think just be prepared emotionally for that sort of experience,” Melanie said.

About the Authors:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.