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How long do video tapes last?

Video Transfers

Do VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Hi-8 and MiniDV video tapes ever go bad?

Family vacations, kids blowing out candles and holiday gatherings are among the most cherished family memories captured on video. Sadly, these irreplaceable recordings on the verge of extinction as the tapes have been disintegrating and the equipment needed to play them is quickly disappearing from existence.

Most video tapes are near the end of their life-cycle. VHS, 8mm, Betamax, and other VCR video tapes will only maintain their original picture quality for about 7-10 years after they were recorded. After that, every year the recorded images begin to literally disappear.

The longer you wait to transfer your home videos to DVD or digital, the more information from the picture and sound that will be lost. There have been cases where the material had literally fallen off the video tape and you could see the pieces laying inside the tape shell.

Most households today no longer have a VCR or camcorder to be able to play any of these videos and they have discontinued making the players and the parts to fix them. Every year more of the remaining video players are donated for recycling or sent to landfills, reducing the ability to play or convert family memories to an alternative media format.

The end of the 8mm, Hi-8, and Digital-8 video formats

Sony, the creator of the 8mm, Hi8, and Digital 8 tape formats discontinued production of all of their 8mm camcorder models years ago.

During the lifespan of the 8mm videotape formats there were relatively few video players produced that would play any of the 8mm video formats, so most consumers had to use their cameras in order to view the tapes on their television screens.

The cost of repairing an 8mm camcorder was nearly that of purchasing a new one, so when it ceased to function, it was usually thrown away. This leaves us with fewew fully-functioning 8mm videotape players that are necessary in order to transfer 8mm videos to DVD or digital. And very few repair shops are able to obtain parts to repair many of the players still around.

It’s expected that within the next few years it could become nearly impossible to make these conversions, as we run out of equipment to play them, as it did with Betamax. For this reason, it’s strongly recommended that anyone who has one of these formats should convert their 8mm, video 8, Hi8 and Digital8 videos to DVD or digital as soon as possible or risk losing their contents forever.

You can see how much it costs to transfer 8mm video to digital and DVD here.

VHS and VHS-C players are also disappearing

VHS vcr’s are no longer being manufactured and it’s only a matter of time before replacement parts are no longer available. This will eliminate the possibility of transferring VHS or VHS-C tapes to digital or DVD.

VHS video tape damaged in a VCR

Don’t let this happen to your tapes

If you play a video tape in a VCR that is malfunctioning or has a dirty tape path, you may find your tape damaged like this, if you’re able to retrieve it at all. We fix all types of video tapes, from broken and crumpled tape to a defective shell.

This is one of the dangers that can happen when you transfer videos to DVD using an old or cheap VCR. Or you may experience tracking problems due to a worn out tape or VCR. Our professional transfer machines will often lock any sync the signal for a smoother transfer.

You can find out how much it costs to convert VHS to digital and DVD here. And VHS-c to digital and DVD here.

MiniDV format has been replaced

MiniDV tape format has been replaced by cameras with hard drives and memory cards. As these cameras disappear or break down so too will be the ability to convert these formats to an alternative media.

You can determine how much it costs to convert MiniDV to digital and DVD here.

Time is running out to transfer home videos to DVD or digital files
The window of opportunity for converting your family’s irreplaceable memories is closing soon. All of these video formats can be converted to Gold Archival DVDs that will last 100 years or put onto flash and hard drives.

What format is the best for converting your family memories?

The answer depends mostly on what you intend to do with your videos and how you plan to watch them.

If you have a blu ray or DVD player connected to your TV, then the Archival Gold DVD may be the ideal choice for preserving your special memories as long as possible. Gold doesn’t oxidize like other minerals, which is a common cause of failure in most DVDs. The non-corrosive, reflective properties of gold make these discs the best choice for archiving important information and enable the discs to last up to 100 years.

Blu ray players and the next generation 4K blu ray players will still play regular DVDs, so you don’t need to worry about the format becoming “extinct” any time soon.

If you do not have a DVD or blu ray player and do not plan to get one then digitizing your videos to a digital file may be the way to go. Putting them on a flash drive in the MP4 format will play on most computers and most of the newer TVs.

If you’re still not sure what the best format is for your needs, give us a call. Do not wait any longer as your family’s recorded memories are about to reach their expiration date.

Consumer Bob shares why it’s important to transfer your film to DVD and digital now.