Remember the days when you had to buy special music racks to store all your cassette and video tapes? Well, those racks served an organizational purpose back in the day, but chances are your stash of old cassettes and videotapes have long forgone the rack and ended up in a dust-bunny infested box somewhere in your basement or up in the attic.
It’s okay, but don’t let out-of-sight go out-of-mind.Those precious home video and cassette tapes are in serious danger of degrading in their current neglected state. You see over time, that magnetic tape in your video and audio cassettes starts to break down. And while decay is ultimately inevitable, there are ways you can preserve the lifetime of your memories.
The easiest and surest way to truly save those old audio and video tapes is to have them digitized. To bring them into the 21st century. And although this next method can only prolong degradation, it’s at least something you can do right now, by yourself. Here are 8 steps to take to properly store your audio cassettes and videotapes.
Get that dirt off their shoulders
Okay, Jay-Z might not have been referencing cleaning your tapes, but maybe he was just ahead of his time? But seriously, keeping your videos and cassette tapes in a dust-free environment (inside their original containers if you have them) is the best way to prolong the decay process. If you don’t have the sleeves that they came in, then at least keep them in a shoe box with a lid on top.
Throw them some shade
Direct sunlight is great for plants and optimism. It’s not good for your old electronics, especially your old videotapes and audio cassettes. Do them a favor and kindly keep the sun away.
Avoid temperature shifts
For being something we can’t see, humidity is a fickle beast. And if your cassette collection has been experiencing strong shifts in humidity, then you need to move them to a place that has regulated temperature – i.e. not your garage, basement, storage shed or attic.
Video and cassette tapes were packaged upright and not stacked on top of eachother for a reason. That reason was to prolong the longevity of their functionality. If you’ve got a collection spread out all willy-nilly or stacked tape on tape on tape on tape … you need to redo your storage tactics.
Did you know that some of your household electronic equipment can wipe your tapes? You see, magnets are involved in a lot of old technology, and if you’re not careful with your tape storage, you might be wiping them clean without even realizing it. Placing tapes next to electronic equipment like stereo speakers, amplifiers, TV sets, appliances and more could pose a danger to your memories.
Be kind, rewind
Rewinding your old video tapes before returning them to your local Blockbuster wasn’t just a common courtesy for the next renter. It was also to ensure that the tape and it’s film was properly cared and reset after each use. So make sure (if you have the ability to) to rewind your video and cassette tapes.
From top to bottom
When you’re watching or listening to old tapes, make sure you’re playing them all the way through. We all had our favorite song or scene, but this helps create an even play-through, ensuring that you’re not wearing out a certain strip of the tape.
Keep it clean
Make sure that you’re tapes are cleaned regularly with a lint-free cloth and tape cleaner (if you have it). If not, then try to dap a small amount of isopropyl alcohol.
No tape was made to last forever. But, if you take care of them with these proper steps, then you’re one step closer to prolonging their life and the memorable moments they hold. And remember, while properly caring for your tapes is a good way to preserve your memories, the best and most effective way is to digitize them.