Video Tape Deteriorates Over Time

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We at Advanced Media specialize in personal family history conservation and preservation.

There is no way of knowing exactly when a VHS to DVD transfer will become impossible due to tape deterioration over time. That being said, most experts agree the life span of a video tape, including Betamax, VHS, 8mm, audio cassette, HDV and mini-DV is between 8 to 12 years and they recommend that these tapes be transferred to DVD or to a file (digital) within the first 5 years because they can become grainy and the quality will suffer. They may also lose sharpness over time. Obviously this varies greatly with different brands and it depends a lot on how the tapes have been stored or handled. Try to keep them in a temperate place with minimal dust and no moisture. They are also susceptible to being crushed and replacing the housing is around $50 at Advanced Media and the price at many of our competitors is substantially more. Also, I’ve seen tapes from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s that look pretty good so the only way to tell if they still play fine is to bring them in, unless you happen to have a machine at home. Even still, we use new equipment so the heads aren’t worn out. The machine is much less likely to damage the tape in any way. The heads are cleaned regularly also, preventing any more deterioration from occurring. Here are a few more tips. Never touch the tape because the oil on your fingers causes damage. Always rewind tapes before storing them away. Keep the cassette away from magnets. A lot of appliances have magnets inside of them so beware they have the power to erase magnetic tape. Don’t leave the tape in a hot car because they will melt and be lost forever. Store them in a box of some kind that won’t allow dust or moisture inside. I use a tin cookie box with the tapes wrapped in plastic. Always use the case and always label the tape. That’s about it for my advice on magnetic tapes. For more info, feel free to call with any questions you might have.

Thank you for reading our blog. We hope you found it useful. Please call us at (323) 469 0707 or go here for your next transfer job. We are here to help.