Larsen Digital | Professional Scanning Service

Top 5 Reasons Video Tapes Degrade

We captured all our important memories on video tapes and now they are degrading! It seems counterintuitive that we store our most prized possessions in a format that doesn't last. Here is why video tapes degrade, and some tips to slow this process.

  • Video Tapes are Magnetic:
    Magnetic film is not a stable format, which means many factors can affect its quality. Magnetic film is made up of different layers, the top layer is the thinnest, which contains the magnetic particles, which is held in place by a binding layer. The magnetic layer is attached to the backing layer, which is the glue that holds everything together. The thin magnetic layer is what stores your picture and sound.

  • Humidity
    Humidity causes a chemical reaction called hydrolysis that causes the binding layer to break down. If the binding layer breaks down, then it is no longer able to bind to the magnetic particles which results in the tape being unplayable.

  • Wear & Tear
    Isn't it crazy that the more you watched your video tape the more damage you did? The friction caused by watching your video tape weakens the tape which weakens the signal.

  • Lubrication
    Lubrication protects the tape from being damaged while it is being viewed. Over playing a tape can reduce the amount of lubrication. However, tapes that haven't been played in a long time will still lose their lubrication due to evaporation and degradation.

  • Magnetic Instability
    The magnetic layer is what stores your video signal. Overtime your video tapes can lose their magnetism, which affects the sound and picture of your video.

What To Do?

You can't stop or prevent deterioration of video tapes, but you can slow the process.

  • Store is cool place to protect the magnetism of your video tape.
  • Store your video tapes in low humidity to slow the binding layer from degrading.

f you want to prevent further loss of your video tapes, you will want to get your tapes converted to digital. At Larsen Digital we will professionally convert each video tape and save it on its own DVD. You can also add MP4 video files so you can edit your own videos.

To prevent losing your video tapes before they have degraded, learn more about our Video Tape Transfers to Digital