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How Can I Tell if My Cassette Tape Is Damaged?

By Shelby Burr

So, you might be a hoarder and may not realize it. How can we tell? Easy. Do you still own your cassette tapes? Boom. Done. 

If you DON’T own them anymore, we hope you digitized them! That way, you could keep your cassette tapes forever, share them with friends/family, and relive them again and again. 

If you DO own them, we have a solution for you. Digitize your cassette tapes! Those tapes are precious and will not last forever. We know that you love your tapes (who doesn’t?), so we want to equip you with the right knowledge and insight on how to tell if your tape or cassette tape is damaged. It can be hard to tell, depending on what kind of tape you have. Many analog tapes vary in shape and size. Regardless of the kind of tapes you have, here are some things to look out for to tell if your memories are damaged.


Mold is one of the main indicators of tape damage. If you take a look at your tape, or lift the flap of the cassette to see the actual tape, keep an eye out for any kind of mold. If you see any mold or even small spores, you need to take care of your tape immediately. Mold damage can cause images to fade, and sound to become silent. It will deteriorate your memories quickly and without you knowing!

External Damage

Take a look at your tape. Is it still smooth or are their bumps and cracks? Over time, lots can happen to your tapes that can cause external damage to the actual hardware of the cassette. Maybe you accidentally dropped your box of cassette tapes, your new puppy got ahold of a tape, or a critter decided to gnaw away thinking your beloved memory was a tasty treat - regardless the “how” we know that external damage can prevent your tape from being played. Luckily, in most cases, the film itself is still safe. Once digitized, you can relive those memories again and again. 


Sounds easy to take care of, but dust is also a silent killer to all tapes. Dust can wear away at your film/tape and cause the imaging or sound to become less clear. It can also cause a major jam in the mechanics of the tape itself and prevent you from playing back your memories. You do not want to jam up your memories! Check your tapes. Are they in a container, or were they loose waiting for dust to get into all the nooks and crannies? 

Try Playing Your Memory 

This is the scary part. Don’t worry, we are here to walk you through it. Breathe in, breathe out. The true test to see if your cassette tape or tapes are damaged is to very carefully try to play them. You have to have your finger ready to click “stop” the moment something doesn’t seem right. Whether that be a sound, a smell, or an image that looks wonky. Place your tape into the player and click play. You will want to monitor your tapes closely. 

If you believe your tapes are damaged before even attempting to play them, simply don’t risk it. Your memories could be damaged when trying to play them and we don’t want to risk that! 

All this to say, there are many factors that can affect your tapes. The best way to ensure your memories are safe from any harm is to have them digitized asap. Your precious tapes can be relived again and again with a simple click of a button. Plus, you can even carry them on your phone with you so they can go where you go! Don’t waste your time or your memories, it’s time to digitize. 

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