Care of Your Old VHS Tape

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To help your VHS tapes last as long as possible, the experts recommend the following:

  • Store VHS tapes between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 40 to 60 percent humidity. If you are comfortable, probably your tapes are.
  • Avoid sudden temperature changes, even within these recommended zones. Neither cold, damp basements nor hot, dusty attics are good choices for storing your tapes.
  • Be especially careful of condensation – allow at least 24 hours before using when you change the temperature or humidity of your VHS tape.
  • Keep the  VHS tapes evenly wound and always rewind them fully. If the tape looks uneven, wind it again. If possible, rewind at slower speeds.
  • Store VHS tapes upright as you would books and keep them in their original cases. You can buy plastic cases to store them in but even the cardboard cases do a good job of keeping the dust away.
  • Put the labels on correctly, where they belong and do not add labels on top of labels. They can interfere with cassette loading and possibly come off inside your VCR.
  • Exercise your tapes once every three years by rewinding or forwarding them.
  • Avoid magnetic fields – the field around any magnet. Your tapes can be erased so do not store them near speakers, motors, toys or other magnetic sources.
  • Transfer your footage every seven years. That helps prevent the images and sounds from fading away.

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