How long do VHS tapes last?
Families thinking about preserving their memories currently stored in the VHS format – and are considering transferring them to DVD in order to preserve those memories – often call our customer service line to ask us, “how long do VHS tapes last?”
The short answer is that VHS tapes, properly stored and in good condition, can last up to 10-25 years, and sometimes even longer! But due to VHS tapes being a magnetic storage media, there can be noticeable loss of picture quality in as few as four to five years.
How to store your VHS tapes:
In reality, the durability of VHS tapes is really a function of a number of factors. Properly stored VHS tapes can last a long time, and improperly stored VHS tapes can last a short amount of time. So, the longer answer is, “it depends.” Below are some of the factors that will affect how long your VHS will last and whether the memories stored on them will be able to be converted to DVD.
- Steady temperatures can help VHS tapes last longer
VHS tapes prefer to be stored in an environment where the temperature is steady. Temperature fluctuations – say, where the VHS tapes are constantly changing from hot to cold – can damage VHS tapes and limit their longevity.
- A cool and dry environment are better for VHS tapes
However, even if tapes are stored in a place where the temperature is steady, VHS tapes do much better when the temperature in which they are stored is slightly cool. Our customers from the Philippines and Hawaii typically experience the most issues with their tapes, given their very warm and humid environment.
- Direct sunlight can harm VHS tapes
One of the most damaging environmental conditions that can degrade the longevity of a VHS tape is if it has been stored in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight dramatically reduces how long a VHS tape can last.
- Don’t store VHS tapes near toxins
Finally, VHS tapes can be negatively affected – and the length of time they last can be significantly reduced – if they are stored in areas where they are exposed to environmental toxins. Your VHS tapes will last longer if they have not been stored in a garage (or a storage space above a garage) where they were exposed to paint or gasoline fumes or other airborne toxins.
Can old VHS tapes still be transferred?
The good news is that most tapes – even those from the early 80′s – can still be transferred to DVD…although time may be running out. Storyteller employs a number of production processes to maximize the quality of the remaining video signal on your VHS tape to ensure the highest-quality possible playback from your tape prior to converting your VHS to DVD.
These processes include adjusting tracking issues with playback, and boosting and stabilizing the video signal through the use of Time-based correction.