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  1. #1
    Squall's Avatar
    Squall is offline Calm Before The Storm
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    How long do VHS tapes last?

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    I remember reading somewhere that a VHS tape is supposed to have a shelf life of 15 - 20 years (the range depends on how well it's taken care of, and how often it's watched). The same applies to audio cassette tapes, since both media are magnetically stored data.

    DVDs and CDs, on the other hand, are permanant and digital, and will in theory last forever if they are properly cared for and stored.

    My question is, how is your VHS collection holding up? Do you have any really old, or often watched, VHS tapes that are showing signs of deterioration? Are the above numbers realistic, or are VHS tapes capable of lasting much longer than this if properly cared for?
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  2. #2
    Frank Castle's Avatar
    Frank Castle is offline Sic vis pacem, para bellum
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    My VHS collection is still holding up well. My oldest tape is about 12 years old and it still runs fine.
    "If the thought of it seems crazy, you were never crazy enough to begin with." -The Punisher

  3. #3
    Sandoz's Avatar
    Sandoz is offline Thin Man Fan
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    My collection's in pretty good condition. The oldest of my tapes, a Jem video that I've had since I was six, is still watchable and hasn't suffered a serious drop in quality.
    "As I bit into the nectarine, it had a crisp juiciness that was very pleasurable, until I realized that it wasn't a nectarine at all, but a HUMAN HEAD."
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  4. #4
    Storm Eagle's Avatar
    Storm Eagle is offline Power to the peaceful
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squall
    I remember reading somewhere that a VHS tape is supposed to have a shelf life of 15 - 20 years (the range depends on how well it's taken care of, and how often it's watched). The same applies to audio cassette tapes, since both media are magnetically stored data.

    DVDs and CDs, on the other hand, are permanant and digital, and will in theory last forever if they are properly cared for and stored.

    My question is, how is your VHS collection holding up? Do you have any really old, or often watched, VHS tapes that are showing signs of deterioration? Are the above numbers realistic, or are VHS tapes capable of lasting much longer than this if properly cared for?
    I think you may be incorrect about DVDs and CDs being immortal. Eventually they can suffer from disc rot, from what I'm told. I think it has something to do with some kind of bacteria on the material.

    As for my VHS collection, I guess they're holding up quite okay. That goes for things that I've recorded on VHS myself. I'd still like to have them transferred to DVD-R though.
    The artist formerly known as PRdude.

  5. #5
    Knightmare is offline Senior Member
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    My VHS collection is holding together really well, I think that one of the things that goes into it is how often you play your tapes and what condition your VCR is.
    Who knows what is really real..... that's the true question in life.

  6. #6
    JDuncan's Avatar
    JDuncan is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by PRdude
    I think you may be incorrect about DVDs and CDs being immortal. Eventually they can suffer from disc rot, from what I'm told. I think it has something to do with some kind of bacteria on the material.
    I think your talking about laser rot, an LD lamination-related defect. Some dual-layered DVDs do have lamination problems, but it's nothing to be worried about.
    Risen like a Beth Phoenix!

  7. #7
    EinBebop's Avatar
    EinBebop is offline Kneel Before Zod
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    I hear they found some betamax tapes in some of the old Egyptian tombs that still play.
    "He lived hard and died stupid."

  8. #8
    Ssrn53's Avatar
    Ssrn53 is offline Member
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    I heard approx 20 years but that depends on how well they are managed. In an airtight vault they can last much longer. Vhs tapes like audio tapes are prone to decomposing when exposed to air and moisture over time..

  9. #9
    Courage-Bagge's Avatar
    Courage-Bagge is offline ''Unbelievable!''
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    My oldest tape is 13 years old, and the film is coming out. I also have a 11 to 12 year old tape with the film snapped inside. One time in a video store, I saw a tape that was completely melted

    "I always feel very patriotic after O.R. My whites are covered in red and it gives me the blues." ~ Hawkeye Pierce


  10. #10
    Thad Komorowski's Avatar
    Thad Komorowski is offline undecided
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    I have a VHS tape that was recorded in 1979... It's pretty faded, but it works...


    -Thad

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  11. #11
    KRnut82's Avatar
    KRnut82 is offline The Knight Rider nut.
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    Yeah, it's supposed to be about 20 years max.

    I have a prerecorded tape of Iron Man (and Spider-Man) cartoons that's around 18 years old that plays well and a prerecorded tape of Camelot that's almost as old which only started giving me problems recently (I take pretty good care of my tapes). I'm gonna replace the latter sometime this year because I know a DVD version came out.

    As for stuff I taped myself, my oldest tapes are between 12 - 14 years old. That reminds me, I need to go through and see if there's anything I really wanna keep and transfer over to new tapes before the old tapes start breaking down*.


    *I don't have the equipment to transfer them to DVD or VCD or know anybody off the boards who does.
    What's all this? It looks like Darth Vader's bathroom.- Michael Knight upon seeing KITT's dash in the 1982 Knight Rider pilot.

  12. #12
    ComicPhanatic is offline Member
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    Unfortunately, my VHS collection far outweighs my DVDs. Nevertheless, I noticed that VHS tapes stay around in good shape for years, as long as they are treated with care (remain inside the box, and not rewind outrageously). I think it depends on what time of VHS it is (meaning what year the film came out, that has alot to do with what the quality is). Some do better than others, it depends.

  13. #13
    SpaceCowboy's Avatar
    SpaceCowboy is offline Senior Member
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    My two oldest tapes are from the early '80s and they still work fine, but they are more dusty than the recent stuff I have.

  14. #14
    RobochangerEX's Avatar
    RobochangerEX is offline "Yes sir ! Keroro Keroro."
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    My old G1 Transformers Eps ( recorded '84-'86 ) are in horrible condition.. but then again I watched them repeatedly as a kid.

    Tapes from '88 up seem to be okay... but not great. Not sure how much of that is due to my current high standards though. I've been spoiled on DVDs.
    ROBO the thread killer !

  15. #15
    guinaevere's Avatar
    guinaevere is offline agent provocateur
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    I remember reading that every tape is supposed to be be played at least once a year to prevent the tape from sticking to itself over time. I don't understand how that works magnetically, and I've plenty of tapes that don't get played but once every three or four years, and they seem to be okay. ::shrugs::

    Back in the early/mid 80s I bought one of the first four-head vcrs available. It was a Toshiba, not stereo, but mono, and the thing weighed about four million pounds. I used Kodak tapes I purchased for a dollar a piece at the drug store, and those old recordings on EP speed look FAR better than any recording I get out of the new VCRS on the most expensive tapes on SP speed. It drives me nuts.

    Anyway, most of the old tapes are holding up. The only tape I noticed had any loss of video quality was the pre-recorded Monsters, Inc tape. Which is odd, I always figured the pre-recorded movies would last longer than something I recorded at home. Oh well. Santa brought Monsters, Inc on dvd this year, so all is well.

    Now I'm spoiled for the OVA, and I've only watched the original "Bubbles Vanderbilt" series and the followup "Bubbles Vanderbilt Z"
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  16. #16
    The Lizard's Avatar
    The Lizard is offline Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday
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    The oldest in my collection is from 1986, a movie my uncle taped.



    -The Lizard
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  17. #17
    Sailor V's Avatar
    Sailor V is offline Defender Of Justice
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    Well I have old tapes alota them the Christmas tape (We had that since 1992) and alot more!

  18. #18
    Michael24's Avatar
    Michael24 is offline Moderator
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    For the most part, our collection is still in pretty good shape. Some of our oldest are from the early-80s, and they've still held up pretty well. Heck, I have FROM STAR WARS TO JEDI on tape, recorded the night it premiered and in LP, and it still looks pretty good all things considered.
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  19. #19
    SpaceCowboy's Avatar
    SpaceCowboy is offline Senior Member
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    My oldest tapes are from 1980 and still look pretty good. However some tapes from the mid-80s that have been played a bit tend to have tracking problems when played on newer VCRs.

  20. #20
    Chris Wood's Avatar
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    My bootleg copies of the original Star Wars trilogy are about 20 years old and still going strong, but others are showing their age a little.

    I thought I read that CDs last for about 25 years.

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