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How Long Do VHS Tapes Last?

By Elaine Elliott

Did you know tape-eating bacteria exists? It’s true, not even your tape technology is invincible from bacteria, dust, oxide shedding, and deterioration

But when do you need to start worrying about such problems with your VHS tapes?
On average, tapes degrade 10-20% over 10 to 25 years. If you’ve been holding on to home videos since the 1990s, there is a good chance some of the footage is already skewed due to aging. Kodak recommends converting your VHS tapes to CDs because disks last over four times longer than tapes.


If CDs can last over 100 years, why is the lifespan of VHS tapes so much shorter? The answer lies in the magnetic charge. Over time, the magnetic particles lose charge in a phenomenon called remanence decay. This causes discoloration, blacked out scenes, and eventually complete loss of footage. The best way to preserve tapes is to store them in a cool and dry place with little to no climate change. But keep in mind even the best quality tapes stored in optimal conditions will succumb to deterioration.


There are other eroding factors at play too. Here is a list of reasons why tapes might start deteriorating faster:


- Storing in hot conditions

- Storing in humid conditions

- Storing near a magnetic source (such as VCRs and loudspeakers)

- The tape was cheap or low quality

- The tape has experience excessive rewinds and playbacks

- The tape is a 2nd or 3rd generation recording copy


The best way to keep your memories is to convert your VHS tapes to digital files such as a DVD. Kodak can digitize your VHS tapes to keep them safe for up to a century! Guaranteeing that even your great-great-grandchildren can watch your favorite childhood memories!
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