For many people, “Out with the old and in with the new,” is a motto to live by. That means that when DVDs came along and replaced VHS tapes, most consumers jumped on the bandwagon and replaced their entire collection with the smaller, sleeker model.
However, that wasn’t the case across the board. One survey found that an estimated 17% of Americans still pop their VHS tapes into the old school players for a nostalgic viewing. Chances are, at least one VHS tape in every collection is a home movie, which isn’t quite as easy to replace.
The question is, how can die-hard VHS fans keep their collection in good shape? After all, this is a form of technology that isn’t built to last forever.
Read on to learn more about preserving your VHS tapes through a variety of useful methods.
Where Should You Store VHS Tapes?
First, let’s talk about where you’re keeping that VHS collection. Storing VHS tapes in the right place won’t make them last for eternity, but it can slow down the decline in quality that occurs over time.
Make sure that your tapes are stored in a cool place with low humidity. High heat and moisture can warp the outer plastic of a tape, which can make it difficult (or impossible) to place in your VHS player. Those same conditions can also do a number on the magnetic tape, which is the most important (and most delicate) part.
Next, make sure that you don’t leave your tapes near any large magnets or magnetic devices. While it does take a pretty strong magnetic force to erase the footage, smaller magnets can scramble the footage stored on VHS film. We doubt that you have any giant magnets lying around, but it’s worth taking into consideration, especially when storing your tapes in the same place for years on end. Keep in mind that many common house-hold devices contain magnets or produce a magnetic field. For this reason, it’s best to keep tapes away from things like speakers, phones, etc…
How Can You Take Care of VHS Film?
Let’s talk a little bit more about VHS tape film. (If you’re not sure exactly what we mean, we’re talking about the film that winds around the two wheels on either side of your VHS tape. That is, in fact, where the audio and visual data is stored.)
One of the best things that you can do to preserve VHS film is to, you guessed it, rewind the tape when you’re done with it. This is especially important if you stopped your viewing mid-way through.
If you leave your VHS tapes at a pause point mid-way through, that stretched portion of the film is going to sustain some damage. It can start to sag over time, causing a warped or distressed image.
Finally, refrain from touching the film with your fingers. They may seem clean to you, but they will leave behind microscopic particles on the film that can cause slow but certain erosion.
Can You Restore VHS Tape Quality?
What happens if your VHS tapes start to get a little wonky? What if the visuals are coming harder to discern or the audio is cutting in and out? What if you accidentally left your VHS tapes next to a giant magnet?
The bad news is that there’s nothing you can do to restore the film as-is. If you use a digital video converter (which we’ll discuss later on), post-conversion restoration can help to restore things like color and clarity. However, the tape, itself, will remain in poor shape once the film has started to lose quality.
Can You Restore VHS Tape Cases?
If there’s one thing that a VHS tape collector loves, it’s those classic cases. Whether they’re the original cardboard sleeves or the slightly more durable plastic clamshells, they have a great look and feel that is hard to beat. What happens if they start to go by the wayside?
Believe it or not, you can use a regular iron on a low setting to iron out any crumpled cardboard. You can also use a strong adhesive to reglue any loose edges, but make sure to hold the case in the shape you desire as the adhesive dries.
The plastic clamshells are notoriously harder to restore if they’re bent out of shape. The best you can hope for is popping them back into shape or flattening them out by leaving them under a flat heavy object for a few days. The good news is that these cases are easy to clean, requiring a little bit of dish soap and a clean cloth.
Can You Repair broken VHS Tapes?
There’s nothing worse than picking up your box of home videos only to find that the curious kids pulled the tape from the cartridge or the dog used a tape as a chew toy. Broken video tapes are extremely common. Not to worry, with the proper tools and some training broken VHS tapes can be repaired.
If the tape is exposed, torn, or mangled you will need to untangle the exposed tape and splice it back together using special tape designed for video tapes. Do not use any other tape as this can damage both the video tape and the VCR.
If the external cartridge is damaged, you will need to replace the cartridge with a new shell. Be extremely careful when you open cartridges. There are lots of little parts, rollers and springs that are all required to make the tape function properly.
While tape repair can be done at home, it’s probably best to let a professional perform this service to avoid any further damage.
How Can You Save VHS Footage For Good?
Have you heard about the magnetic media crisis? It’s kind of a big deal–albeit dramatic in terms of naming. The basic premise is that no matter what, media forms that rely on magnetic strips (like VHS tapes) are going to become unusable over time.
When it comes to all your favorite Hollywood (or international) films, this is no big deal. You can always replace your VHS tapes with DVDs or check out streaming sites to see if they’re featuring the movies you love.
What about home movies that aren’t replaceable? This is when digitizing VHS tapes is a must. Send in all of those precious home movies and preserve them forever using digital files that you can easily send to all of your loved ones.
Digitize Your Collection For Good Measure
We understand your love of VHS tapes. We love a good VHS tape, too. More importantly, we love making sure that you can save all of those wonderful moments captured on home videos for years to come.
We offer affordable, high-quality VHS-to-digital conversion services. To find out more, tell us about your digitizing needs, or get started, contact us today. We look forward to helping you to preserve and share your memories.