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How to Preserve Your Videotapes from Deterioration

Almost every person has a box of VHS tapes from their childhood that is either stored in the basement or the attic. As a relic of the past, you might be holding on to them for nostalgic value, but if you’re not storing them properly, you might find that there’s been considerable deterioration.

Improper storage can result in a host of different issues, such as discoloration to spots, blank areas or the tape negatives getting exposed. By the time the damage is noticed, you might find that the VHS tapes you have been holding on for nostalgic reasons are just pieces of plastic now.

To avoid deterioration, you have to be mindful to preserve them. Whether they are VHS tapes, Betamax tapes or Mini DV (camcorder tapes); the tips for preventing deterioration remain the same. While the simplest solution is to just convert VHS to DVD, if you’re not ready to do that, then you need to pay attention to the following:

Preventing Tape Damage

The way you store the VHS tapes makes a huge difference in the deterioration of the tapes. It’s a good idea to try the following tips to keep your videotapes from deteriorating:

  • Always make sure to rewind the tape after you have watched it. Half wound tapes are more susceptible to damage and you’re more likely to get blank areas in the tape in this manner.
  • Avoid touching the tape. This is a sensitive area and even oils in your skin or other pollutants from your hands can get absorbed and ruin the tape quality.
  • Never try to disassemble the casing of the VHS tapes for any reason. If you feel like the tape needs to be repaired, take it to a professional. Improper disassembly can not only damage the tape but also harm the mechanism of the VCR machine.
  • Avoid leaving your video tapes on or near appliances such as your TV, the speakers or even the fridge. These appliances release a lot of electromagnetic waves and sometimes have strong magnets in them, which generate a magnetic field. This can end up affecting the tapes.

With the help of these tips, you can prevent damage to the tapes with ease. However, your work isn’t finished here. Preventing videotape deterioration includes many different factors, including the following ones:

Keep Them Away from Sunlight

Always make sure that you keep all videotapes and cassettes away from direct or strong sunlight. Sunlight contains UV rays, which can start to damage the tapes. Over time, this same sunlight will end up bleaching or causing spots in the tape. Additionally, you need to keep them away from warm or hot temperatures.

Exposure to direct sunlight can cause the temperature to rise, which can also cause the videotapes to deteriorate. Also, try and keep them away from the heaters. When most people store their cassettes in the attic, they tend to forget about the presence of warm pipes or heaters there.

Humidity Does a Lot of Damage

Apart from being mindful of the heating and direct sunlight, you also need to pay attention to humidity levels in the area. Storing VHS tapes in an area where there is a lot of humidity, like the basement, can be disastrous. Over time, the moisture can seep into the cassette case where it will wreak havoc in the tape. Long term exposure to moisture means that the tape will start to stick to the video drum in the case.

This makes it impossible to save or use the cassette in any manner. Additionally, mold can also grow on tapes because of the excess moisture. This can mean that you have to abandon your entire collection since it is difficult to remove mold and mold spores can develop all around them. You can lose a lot of memorabilia in this manner. Even if you were planning to convert your collection of mini DV to digital, moisture can render the whole lot useless.

Storing them in the Right Position

When you’re storing your VHS tapes, you might be used to just putting them into a box in any area. On the other hand, you need to make sure that you put the video cassette into the case and keep it upright. This is a necessity for all cassettes, including mini DV and VHS. For this reason, you will need to have a dedicated cabinet just for the storage of your VHS tapes.

Additionally, you also need to make sure that you’re keeping them in a dry area that is also free from dust. Never keep a video cassette anywhere without a case on. This allows dust to get into the tape, and it can be very difficult to clean it out. This also increases the chances of videotape deterioration.

Go Digital – It’s the Safest Option

Unless you’re looking to get a climate controlled storage option, videotape storage to prevent deterioration is a hard task. It’s even more frustrating to learn that despite your best measures, there comes a time when it will be inevitable. VHS tapes have a shelf life, after all. To counter this factor, it is a good idea to convert VHS to DVD.

Doing so is not only safer, but it also has a host of benefits such as:

  • You save on storage space – DVDs require less space than VHS tapes
  • It’s easier to re-watch them – It’s harder to find a functional VCR player nowadays as it is outmoded.
  • They have a longer life – DVDs can last for around 20 to 100 years, depending on the format of the DVD.

The best part is that you can find professional services for this option. This saves you time and ensures that you don’t end up accidentally damaging the tapes in some manner. Whether you want to convert your collection of mini DV to digital or your VHS tapes to DVD, you can make use of professional services for it. For additional security, consider having your tapes professionally digitized. DVDs are great but they still have many flaws; they scratch, break, and get lost all the time. If you have your tapes transferred to digital files, you’ll have as many copies as you want whenever you want them. They can be shared online and moved between storage spaces in order to last indefinitely.

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