For years our memories have been captured by our camcorders and coded to magnetic videotape. Everyone has that shelf or drawer that’s filled with their old home movies. These tapes hold some of the best times of our lives. Unfortunately, if you don’t already know, one day in the not so distant future these tapes will stop working. In fact, the quality, color and sound of your home movies are currently diminishing as you read this.
How long will your tapes last?
Short Answer: The quality of your tapes will deteriorate after 10 years, even if you do not watch them. Overall life expectancy will vary, but is estimated to be between 10-20 years.
- Magnetic Signal Loss – Even if your tapes are never played and are kept completely safe, there will be a 10-20% loss of signal after only 10 years. This may not seem very substantial, but that 20% will be the difference between truly enjoying your memories and simply displaying them.
- Magnetic Remanence Decay – All forms of tape rely on a magnetic charge to store and display your videos. Magnetic charge is fundamentally impermanent! As the magnetic signal decays, so does the quality of your videos, eventually rendering them unplayable.
- Binder Breakdown – Magnetic particles are held to the tape by a binder, which will begin to decay after only a few years. As this process progresses, tapes become extremely difficult to play and the magnetic material will sometimes literally fall off.
- Hydrolysis – The polymers of the binder will slowly absorb water and eventually delaminate (even in climates that are mildly humid). This will cause your tape to become sticky, unplayable and catastrophic to the tape and even the VCR.
- Demagnetization – This occurs from old or damaged VCRs and from storing your tapes too close to a magnetic source. This will cause information to actually be erased from the tape every time it is played.
- Effects of Playback – Video quality deteriorates every time you watch your tape. Friction between the VCR head and tape head will eventually cause your tape to become brittle and may eventually break.
These Are the Kinds Tapes and Photos That We Can Transfer and Save for You