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How to store & look after VHS tapes

How to store & look after VHS tapes

Collectors of VHS tapes will know that VHS tapes can degrade over time due to various factors, including exposure to heat, humidity, magnetic fields, and general wear and tear. Here are some tips on how to store and prevent damage to VHS tapes if you are getting into collecting vintage VHS movies:

  1. Temperature and Humidity: Store VHS tapes in a cool, dry environment. Extreme temperatures and high humidity can accelerate degradation. Ideally, keep them in a room with a stable temperature and humidity level.
  2. Vertical Storage: Store VHS tapes vertically, like books on a shelf. Avoid laying them flat for extended periods, as this can lead to warping.
  3. Magnetic Fields: Keep VHS tapes away from strong magnetic fields, as these can affect the magnetic particles on the tape. Avoid placing tapes near speakers, motors, or other magnetic devices.
  4. Avoid Sunlight: Exposure to direct sunlight can damage VHS tapes. Keep them away from windows and other sources of UV radiation.
  5. Clean Storage Area: Keep the storage area clean to prevent dust and debris from accumulating on the tapes. A clean environment reduces the risk of contamination when tapes are inserted into VCRs.
  6. Use Cases or Sleeves: Store VHS tapes in protective cases or dedicated cardboard sleeves to prevent dust, scratches, and physical damage. Cases also provide some level of protection against moisture.
  7. Fast-Forward and Rewind: Periodically fast-forward and rewind tapes from beginning to end. This helps prevent the tape from sticking to itself and ensures an even distribution of tension.
  8. Regular Playback: Play the tapes regularly to keep the lubricants on the tape and inside the cassette moving. This can help prevent the tape from becoming brittle.
  9. Avoid Labeling on Tapes: Avoid writing directly on the tape labels, as this can cause damage. Instead, use labels or markers designed for use with magnetic media.
  10. Keep Tapes in Original Cases: Whenever possible, store tapes in their original cases. The cases provide additional protection and help maintain the structural integrity of the tape and the title’s collectable value.
  11. Backup and Digitize: If the content of the VHS tapes is valuable, consider digitizing them. This not only preserves the content but also allows you to enjoy it without putting additional wear on the physical tapes.

Remember that even with proper care, VHS tapes are a magnetic storage medium and have a finite lifespan. If you have valuable or irreplaceable content on VHS tapes, consider digitizing them to preserve the content for the long term.

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