Video Recovery software for VHS tape?

May 31, 2010 at 10:34:53
Specs: Windows XP

I need to know if there is a software or tool to recover deleted or erased videos from VHS or VHS-tapes and where can I get it or which website to look for

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May 31, 2010 at 12:56:48

I think once you erase a tape, it's gone. I never heard of recovering a movie from a tape.

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May 31, 2010 at 13:54:05

VHS tapes are an analogue system. The cannot use a digital system to recover analogue information.

There are ways of recovering erased data from magnetic tapes but you would need the resources of the CIA to do it.


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May 31, 2010 at 16:40:55

... and this is the Lounge Forum the post should not be here. As an aside once the magnetic particles are re-arranged either by overwriting or deletion by an erasing device the information is gone forever. Forget it!

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May 31, 2010 at 18:13:25

Call your local police station. The police here even though this is a small town used to be able to do this. I had a friend that owned a small store back in the eighties all he used was vhs for his security cameras. Every month he recycled or reused the tapes until they got wore out. The police were able to recover images that had been recorded over after a robbery of a nearby home. I have no clue of the quality but it was enough for a conviction.

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May 31, 2010 at 21:52:26

Hardrocker you are wrong and you are giving the OP false hope! Once the tape has been erased/re-recorded the earlier information is gone forever. You must have pretty remarkable Police force where you live.

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June 1, 2010 at 00:24:16

I wouldn't say remarkable. Competent maybe. Like I said I never saw the recovered images. Maybe there is more too it. They got the tapes from my friend. The tapes had been recorded over. My friend had to give a deposition as to the use of the tapes (how many times they had been used, the frequency of reuse, the date of purchase, and the date they were turned over to the police). They were able to I.D. a suspect. My friend was never told if it was from his tapes but the case was four months old with no suspect when he gave the tapes to the police. As far as any possible image recovery being done on a vhs tape, I bwouldn't think so either. My friend was paid for the tapes by the way at I think it was sixty five percent of cost. Can you recover say you wedding video you taped the football game over? I doubt it but I have never tried it. Maybe Ewen has.

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June 1, 2010 at 01:47:52

It is possible to recover recorded information from erased video tape, as well as audio tape, hard disks and floppy disks, The all have one similarity and that is that the information is recorded via a magnetic field.

When this magnetic field is changed, either by formatting or erasing, it always leaves a trace behind of what went before, It is this trace that is used to recover information. To do it requires specialist and expensive equipment.

In the case of the tapes mention by harrddocker it is unlikely the police force in question had the equipment to do the job themselves. They probably sent them to a specialist laboratory.


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June 1, 2010 at 02:16:42

Ewen -

First off. please understand that I am not trying to offend you.

Technically speaking, harrddrocker is not wrong. There are resources for vhs tape forensic that could find circumstantial evidence of what was once recorded. While Forsenic may be purely scientific, whatever the tape experts uncover are usually found credible and convincing in Court cases, just like DNA. I guess this is what harrddrocker was talking about.

Forensic Examination of CCTV Digital VTR Surveillance Video Tape Recording

Getting back to the original question, there is nothing that can recover video images erased or overwritten on a VHS tape/


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June 1, 2010 at 11:21:00

For the original question. Personally I have never heard of recovery software for vhs tape. How would this work anyway? If you transfer the image to a harddrive I am pretty sure all you'll have access to is the latest image. Aside from that you would have to have some sort of a drive for the computer to read vhs tapes. I am thinking not just the simple four head vcr. I am betting best buy doesn't and hasn't carried anything like this. Walmart maybe..... just kidding. I am sure somewhere there is someone that has the kind of resources to do this. Maybe try data recovery companies in the phone book, but I think even then it is reaching. My original post to the question was not ment to miss lead or give false hope, just to say that I believe it is possible to recover an image.

After using google I see there is software that advertises it can do this for 300.00. All I can say is there are miilions of things advertised online that don't work. Buyer beware.

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June 1, 2010 at 15:06:56

XpUser... I am not offended and thank you for the link which I read (somewhat tedious though) but although the article does mention "enhancing a weak audio or video signal" nowhere does it discuss recovering an erased tape. The fact is that the video is recorded on magnetic particles embedded in the emulsion on the video tape and that pattern when played back reproduces the recorded picture. Once that pattern is rearranged the previous arrangement is gone forever and cannot be recovered. I do not mean to be pedantic but I am going to take a lot more convincing that VHS tapes can be recovered.

Having made this statement I did find this site:

But note that they add this proviso:

Sometimes when the magnetic material has completely been lost in parts, we can recover parts of the rest of the tape. Even if the tape does not play in your player, we are often able to recover something from the tape. This may include images of deceased loved ones.

It is not possible to recover videotape that has been recorded over by mistake, as the VCR erases as part of the normal record function.

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June 2, 2010 at 09:51:09

The best place to ask that I know of is at the link below.

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June 3, 2010 at 02:26:00

I contacted my friend to see if he ever found out if they actually got anything usable. He said they explained to him that what they got was a handful of images mostly very cloudy. They told him on one tape they got a straight foreward image of the suspect but it was only clear enough for a discription but on another tape they got an image of him getting in his car and were able to enhance it enough to read the tag. This was enough for a warrent from there they got more evidence for the conviction. Eighteen years he owned that store and that was the only real use he got out of several cameras.

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June 3, 2010 at 07:46:02

Someone correct me if I'm wrong....

With a hard drive, the data isn't actually erased per se in a normal "detete" type procedure. The link from the file to the TOC is killed. This removes the "normal" access from the operating system but in fact, doesn't really remove the data.

This is why it's so easy to recover files from a hard disk even after they've been deleted. This is also (as I understand it) why software that the department of defense uses to wipe a drive will go over the drive multiple times making everything 1's or 0's.

So, knowing how a "delete" works on a PC I have to wonder, with a VHS tape, is an erase not a similar procedure, or does it actually try to wipe the whole tape?

Does anybody know?

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June 3, 2010 at 08:34:33

Even after a drive has been wiped multiple time it is still possible to recover data from the residual magnetic field. It is a complicated procedure to completely erase a hard disk beyond recovery wiping various times with different bit patterns. One pass of kill disk wont do it.

With a hard drive that has really sensitive information on it where it may be worth the time and effort to recover the data then only way to ensure that cannot happen is to take a sledge hammer to the platters.

When a tape is erased a bias frequency is written to the tape which effectively masks the information that is there. A bit like an unmodulated carrier wave. Slight variations in the bias frequency from one machine to another can allow the old information to be recovered.

With the right equipment the bias frequency can be adjusted to match exactly the frequency of the original recording and filter out any other frequencies that might also be there. A bit like tuning a weak HF Single Side Band radio signal when there is stronger single present.

When tape was normal in recording studios, master tapes were always generated from brand new tape. You would never make a master tape from a tape that had been previously used because the previous information is never completely obliterated.


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June 3, 2010 at 12:39:23

In addition to the info from StuartS I would add that each time a video or audio tape passes through the heads there is some degradation.

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June 3, 2010 at 16:10:59

As I said earlier:

Sometimes when the magnetic material has completely been lost in parts, we can recover parts of the rest of the tape. Even if the tape does not play in your player, we are often able to recover something from the tape. This may include images of deceased loved ones.

It is not possible to recover videotape that has been recorded over by mistake, as the VCR erases as part of the normal record function.

T he discussion has morphed into hard-drive recovery and there is no similarity between the recording process on the two mediums. There are no references on the tape that can be erased so that the rest of the tape can be recovered... once it has been erased either by simply erasing with a bulk erasing device or by re-recording in either event the previous information is gone.

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