What’s Eating Your VHS Tapes?


If you’re of a certain age, you probably have a stash of old VHS tapes kicking around your basement or storage area. You keep meaning to watch them, but how many of us have a working VHS player that we trust enough not to eat the tape like a hungry monster? Unlike the digital files of today, your family wedding celebrations and birthday parties are not protected as long as they remain imprinted on the magnetic ribbons of these bygone tapes. Here are just some of the ways that your treasured memories have been degrading over time.


Moisture: Believe it or not, the plastic ribbons inside your VHS tapes are a breeding ground for mold, if kept in an environment where excessive moisture is present. What are the chances you have kept your tapes in a climate and moisture-controlled environment for the past 30 years? When mold starts growing on your ribbons, they begin sticking together, and may result in the loss of your images altogether. On the other hand, a persistent lack of moisture can result in the ribbon becoming brittle and eventually breaking.


Magnetization: The ribbon in your VHS tape is coated in trillions of tiny magnetic particles. When you record a video, unique patterns are created, which are later decoded by the magnets in your VHS player. Unfortunately, over time, these patterns can be compromised, or destroyed if your tapes are stored anywhere near appliances which also contain magnets. Even something as small as a fridge magnet, if left in direct contact with your tape, can destroy the recorded images forever.


Wear and Tear: Each time you play your tape in a VCR, you start the clock on the tape’s shelf life. Over time, wear and tear on the magnetic images becomes evident and degrades the quality of the images. The tapes were manufactured with a layer of lubricant, to ease their movement inside the VCR. If you play a particular tape heavily, that lubricant begins to wear off, at which point you run the risk of tears and breakage to the ribbon.


Even if you get your hands on a working VCR, it is not recommended that you take a trip down memory lane by playing your 10+ year old tapes. Chances are, they have already begun degrading for one or more of the above reasons, and you run the risk of losing your memories forever.


Here at SurroundUs, we would like to help you preserve these priceless movies with our VHS conversion service. We will lovingly handle your tapes, and convert them into digital files that will endure for generations to come. Contact Us so we can stop the clock, and keep your memories alive.


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