What you should know before sending your tapes

Thousands of old audio and VHS video tape recordings are being destroyed everyday; literally by being eaten to death. Irreplaceable family memories are being lost unnecessarily. Read on to find out how to safeguard your taped magic moments.

VHS videotapes are produced from a cellulose carrier tape which has been coated with ferric oxide allowing the tape to magnetically record video. We have become used to videotapes becoming brittle and eventually snapping. This type of problem is common and can be repaired quite easily, even for old Betamax videotapes.

Recently, though, there has been a considerable increase in the number of mould infected tapes we have received. Poor storage in areas that are damp and have poor ventilation is usually the cause of this blight. The warm, damp summer months that we’ve experienced over the past three years have compounded this problem.

Once your tapes are infected, the mould spores quickly spread, eating the coating of the tape as they go. This damage is irreversible and the recordings cannot be recovered. All those birthdays, weddings and special occasions gone forever. This is devastating news to have to give a customer.

Prevention is the only way to safeguard your tapes and here’s how you can do it.

Store your tapes somewhere that has a stable temperature and humidity level; keep them away from direct light and heat. Avoid leaving them in your cellar, garden shed or garage.

What are the telltale signs that your tapes have been infected with mould?

You will notice the mould spores (a fine white powder) on the tape’s spools.

What action can you take if your tapes are infected?

Remove any damp cases. Substitute your old cardboard cases for plastic ones that will resist moisture. Be sure to transfer any written information that was recorded on your old cases before disposing of them.

Following these simple steps should help you protect your VHS tapes.