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What to do with Moldy Tapes?!

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By Katy Sommerfield

Since 2008, the VHS tape has been outdated. When DVDs came onto the scene, the older format was quickly replaced and millions bought DVD players to begin watching their favorite movies on. However, many people still have VHS tapes they recorded years ago, with sweet home videos on them that have captured some of the best memories of their lives. If you still have a VCR, you might have been able to still view these precious home movies over the years, even as the technology became obsolete. But did you know that besides being old, your tapes are at risk of growing mold and becoming unusable? 

Molding is one of the worst things to happen to tapes.

If your tapes have any exposure to dampness, water, dust, or humid environments like attics and basements, it is likely that there will be some molding in the tiny cracks and bends of the tape.


The bad news is that moldy tapes will often go unnoticed if they're unused for a while. The longer the mold has to grow on the tapes, the worse damage the tapes will suffer. It’s unlikely that anyone is watching videos of their kid’s 4th birthday party daily or even yearly, so the risk of that tape encountering mold is very high.


Once you have mold on your tapes, it will be hard to not notice. There will be a white or green dust-like substance covering the inside of the tape container, and the tapes themselves will have the mold twisted into the layers. Talk about a nasty situation.


The good news is that if you catch the mold growth early enough, your tapes may be salvable! If there are just white spots of dust-like mold on the VHS outer-casing, all you have to do is wipe it off and your tapes should be usable. If the mold has grown into the casing and is touching the magnetic tape, your tapes can’t be saved sadly. If you aren’t sure or can’t tell if the mold has reached the tapes, you can send the tapes into a professional who may be able to use their expertise to clean and repair the tapes. However, it is best to try to prevent mold from occurring in the first place so that you don’t have to play with the fate of your home movies.


The best way to ensure that your tapes are safe from the threat of mold is to check on them often, at least once a month, for mold growth. It is pertinent to store your tapes in a dry, humidity-free space with as little exposure to light as possible. If you take all these precautions, your tapes should last much longer than they would in a dusty, wet basement.


While taking good care of your tapes will preserve them for much longer than leaving them in a box in the attic, the absolute best way to preserve those special home videos is to have them digitized with Kodak Digitizing. There is no better way to ensure your memories will be safe throughout the years than digitization. With Kodak, we can take your VHS tapes and transform them into digital data on a USB, DVD, or in a digital download. These files will be stored safely forever, and you can rest assured knowing these important home movies are safe from natural decay over the years.

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