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Preserve Family Videos

Video Preservation – Introduction

Video Preservation – You may be asking yourself, ‘what is the best way to preserve family videos?’ and how to avoid any sort of tape decay, if that’s the case then we’re here to help. Videotapes consist of a plastic polyester backing coated with a layer of magnetic material and binder that holds the image and sound information. It is essential to take proper care of videotapes to ensure their longevity.

Preserving Video Tapes

To store tapes correctly, maintain a temperature between 18°C-24°C and a relative humidity of 35-45%. Heat and humidity are the two biggest threats to videotapes. Avoid storing tapes directly on concrete floors, in attics or cellars, near bathrooms or laundry areas. After use, return the tapes to their containers and store them upright to prevent damage to the tape edge. Spooling tapes at low speed or playing them from start to finish before storage will ensure proper winding.

Extra Precautions

Do not place camcorders and tapes in bags or holders with liquids, food, or other materials that may contaminate the video materials if the container breaks. In extreme climatic areas, allow camcorders and tapes to adjust to the temperature before use to avoid clogging video heads and jamming tapes.

Electrical Appliances and Tapes
Most household appliances’ stray magnetic fields are too weak to damage videotapes. However, high voltage power lines and electromagnetic interference from large buildings can cause problems. Small but powerful magnets found in items like flashlights, fridge magnets, headphones, and speaker cabinets can also affect tapes.

Playing and Cleaning Tapes

Playing tapes at least once a year may help extend their lifespan. Alternatively, creating copies of frequently used tapes is recommended to create a backup. Discard tapes that do not play correctly to prevent damage to the VCR and other tapes and preserve VHS tapes. Under normal circumstances, head cleaning tapes are unnecessary. If the heads require cleaning, it is best to have them cleaned manually by a trained professional, as cleaning tapes can cause premature head wear or damage. Remember too to check if your tape is blank.

Brand of Tape

Major brand name tapes from VCR equipment or magnetic products manufacturers are generally of consistently good quality. Beware of bargain tapes and note that high prices do not always guarantee higher quality.

Overseas Machines
Tapes recorded on one international system, such as PAL, cannot be played on another system, such as NTSC, without multi-standard VCRs and TV monitors. Tapes may be copied through a standards converter to produce a copy for another standard. However this process is expensive and may result in some quality loss.

Protecting Tapes from Natural Disasters

To protect videos of personal importance from natural disasters like fires or floods, consider copying them onto other tapes and storing the copies separately. In the event of a flood, evacuate the tapes or store them in a sealed container to avoid water damage. In the event of a fire, evacuate the tapes or bury them in a sealed container.


The advice in this guide is based on the best international experience and information available to Supaphoto. Seek specialist advice for the best care of your video, as circumstances may vary.

Learning More

If you would like to know more about the best way to preserve VHS tapes or video preservation or perhaps you are interested in software or digitisation services as well then you may want to explore a little more.