Expected life of a VHS tape.

  SB23 19:44 14 May 2006

Since moving back in Feb, my wife has made me painfully aware of all the films I have on VHS tape. (I collected them before we met, and have over 400).
While sorting through them, I have been watching a few, only to realise that the picture quality has degraded to such an extent that the film is unwatchable.
Anything I now buy is on DVD, but just got wondering how old is the oldest VHS film that someone could expect to still watch ?

  GANDALF <|:-)> 20:03 14 May 2006

I have VHS tapes from 1988 that play perfectly OK. Could be the way that they are stored.


  SB23 20:12 14 May 2006

They've been stored on a bookcase. Full to the brim, away from heat, damp etc. Just seems a shame that some of them, well the ones that I've noticed, have degraded so that you can't watch them.


  Totally-braindead 20:29 14 May 2006

Not being funny here but have you actually tried them on another video, it could be the video rather than the tapes. Just a thought.

  dmc727 21:06 14 May 2006

Interesting subject for those who used pre digital stuff. In the 70’s I took a lot of super 8 cine film until about the mid 80’s when I stopped. At the time I used to edit / splice etc and project on to a screen. I never went down the digital route except for a still camera.

After being left in the attic – basically forgotten - for close on twenty years one of my sons decided to do something with it. Imagine it must be similar in properties to VHS tape maybe more fragile. Don’t know the technical process but he had it digitally copied frame by frame and put on DVD. The result was pretty good.

So pleased it was done as the grand children find it fascinating. It could so easily have been left to perish. So anyone out there with old film do something about it before it’s too late. And bear in mind that some CD /DVD don’t have a long shelf life either so use something like Taiyo Yuden.

  €dstowe 21:19 14 May 2006

I have some 20 year old VHS tapes that are quite acceptable quality on playback.

I always used good quality, well known brands like Scotch, Sony and TDK. I have heard of some own brand tapes being unwatchable after as little a five years.

  anchor 12:27 15 May 2006

I can play VHS tapes made well over 15 years ago with no problem. Like €dstowe I have only used quality brand tapes.

  rmcqua 13:08 15 May 2006

One of the main problems with long term storage of magnetic tape media is "print through" (also known by other names). This is when the magnetic information stored on one layer of tape slowly "records" itself onto the layers above and below it. Its effect is very noticeable on audio tapes, when it appears as a kind of faint echo. I don't know what the video equivalent is, but I guess there must be one. I seem to recall seeing a suggestion that a quick rewind every year or so, just to reposition the layers of tape above and below each other, will prevent the worst of this effect.

  €dstowe 14:32 15 May 2006

I think my twenty years old tapes in the post above was a bit optimistic. I checked this morning and they are marked 1990. I played a bit of one through. Taking into account the relatively poorer quality of the equipment then, the tapes are in excellent condition.

  David4637 14:52 15 May 2006

Read rmcqua post above - to avoid magnetic print through on VHS tapes, rewind each tape once per year. David

  SB23 15:09 15 May 2006

Thought of that one already, tried both of my machines, which both work fine. Then my daughter said that she would try hers. Same result I'm afraid, tape in the bin. So far though, only 5 have gone, but all of these were bought films.
Found a receipt for one in the case Nov '97, and another Jan '99.
As said before, blank tapes I've got are at least 10-15 years old, and still going strong, but no such luck with bought films.
It makes me wonder about the original quality of the tape.

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