February 6, 2016

VHS care information

I found this "VHS care information" file while looking through some old CDs from the late 1990's.

Here are some tips, from Kodak, on how to best take care of your video tapes. I have a large VHS tape collection and I havenít followed any of these instructions. The tapes seem to be fine after 20+ years...

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  • Always put your cassette back in its protective sleeve when not in use. Dust and dirt will damage your tape and contaminate your VCR or camcorder.
  • Don't store your tapes near strong magnetic fields (near your power panel or high current users like electric dryers or stoves, air conditioners, or stereo speakers, etc.) The recorded information could be erased over time if you do.
  • Don't store your tapes in areas of high humidity (basements). This environment provides the condition that allow mold and mildew to grow and will damage tapes and sleeves. Storing tapes at 70 degrees F (40-percent RH or lower) can keep them healthy for 30 years or more.
  • Don't leave cassettes in direct sunlight. The sun can heat a black shell to well above the temperature necessary to permanently warp the shell.
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  • Take proper care of your VCR and camcorder. See that it gets cleaned and lubricated to keep it in top condition. Video heads only need to be cleaned if there is a degradation in video signal, but the tape path and capstan pinch roller need cleaning more frequently especially in dusty environments or in situations where tapes have been left out without their protective sleeves. A dirty tape path can cause physical damage to the tape especially the rubber pinch roller. When it gets dirty and/or dried out, it will not drive the tape correctly. Instead it will cause the tape to wander up or down, damaging the edges of the tape against the guides. If you open the door of the cassette and see wrinkled upper or lower edges on the tape, it is almost certain to have been caused by a capstan pinch roller that needs to be either cleaned or replaced.
  • Rewind the tape before storing it. This keeps the beginning of the tape from being creased by the end of the leader or the clamp. The best position for storage is to stand the cassette on its end with the heavy end down. Don't lay them flat (especially upside down).
  • Don't use rewind equipment to rewind tapes after playing. Your VCR will do a much better and safer job rewinding that precious tape. VCR rewind mechanisms almost never fail because of over use; they fail because of time and elevated temperatures whether used or not.
  • Don't buy bargain, no-name tape. It has a bargain price for a reason. There is substantial risk that it will cause head clogs due to oxide shedding or contaminants. Stick with high-quality brand names.

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