Videotapes Are Becoming Unwatchable

How many videotapes do you own? Are any of them videos made at family reunions or videos of your children or grandchildren as they grew? Would you like to preserve them for a few more years? If so, you need to take action NOW!

Research suggests that videotapes aren’t going to live beyond 15 to 20 years. Some call this the “magnetic media crisis.” The problem is that many people don’t realize their tapes are degrading.

You need to copy your videotapes to digital media NOW. You can do it yourself or find any number of services that will do it for you. If you only have a few videotapes, it probably is cheaper and certainly is easier to have someone else make the copies. If you have dozens of tapes that need to be preserved, you might want to undertake the effort yourself.

An excellent article about the preservation efforts of the XFR Collective (pronounced Transfer Collective) may be found in an article by Scott Greenstone published in the NPR web site at: http://n.pr/2r0r5JN.

12 Comments

My home videos were unwatchable even before they started degrading. Fortunately mine were on 8mm video, which was a difficult media to playback. I found someone to copy my tapes to DVD a few years back. Now that they’re all on DVD, I’ll have to start worrying about that format decaying as well.

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    You should convert those DVD’s to digital computer files as well. DVD players will become harder to find just like VHS is now. I can convert tapes as well as DVD’s to digital files. Been doing that for several years locally here in Denver. If you’d like to ship your tapes and/or DVD’s to me I’ll convert them for you for $10 per tape to MP4, AVI or MPG files. You pay for the shipping. Send me an e-mail if you are interested.

    Rob Carmody
    Robert.john.carmody at gmail dot com

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Two years ago at the Roots Tech Conference there was company that transferred all sizes of 8mm and video tapes for $10.00 each. I can’t find the name or address now, but they had a photo of either Ted or John F Kennedy as their advertisement on an easel. It wasn’t the one company that was usually there, (Larson). If anyone can help me with this name and address. I would be so grateful. My 8mm are longer playing, so cost wise it was great! They were located close to Lisa Louise Cook’s booth in the conference hall. Would appreciate all “more reasonable” transfer data companies names. Thanks so much

t

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    Hi Lucy. As I’ve posted to others on this blog post, I convert tapes and film to computer files and DVD’s for people locally here in Denver. I’d be happy to help you out if you are interested in shipping your tapes to me. $10 per tape to a computer file (MP4, AVI or MPG), $15 for a DVD or $20 for both. You pay for the shipping and I’ll take great care with your tapes. Being a fellow genealogist, I understand how important these one of a kind, can’t be lost family memories! Get your tapes converted now to digital before they degrade any further!

    Rob Carmody
    Robert.john.carmody at gmail dot com

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The real issue is to try and buy a VCR now. They just do not exist for sale. My tapes mostly Disney are all just fine but the many VCR’s in the family are breaking down one by one and are extremely hard to replace.

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    Both eBay and Amazon have VCR players and VCR/DVD combo players for sale. They all seem to be used, but we got one for our Mom a few years ago from an eBay seller and it worked fine. With ebay, check the seller’s credentials to see if they have a good rating.

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    You can often find VCRs at thrift stores. I have a couple of spares that I keep for the time when…..

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I have twenty-eight 3 inch super 8 mm with sound and at $25 each, the cost is prohibitive. Is there equipment that will allow me to do it myself? My library can do 8 mm without sound, but I really want to hear my father’s voice again.

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Hi all,
I convert all types of video tape (VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Hi8, Video8, Digital8, MiniDV, DV, Beta) and film (Silent 8mm and Super 8) to computer files (MP4, AVI, MPG) and to DVD. I’ve been doing it for several years for people locally here in Denver. $10 per tape for a computer file, $15 for a DVD or $20 for both. I’ve had people ship me their tapes to me and then I can ship them back when I’m done and you pay for the shipping costs. I’d love to help my genealogy friends out as well! Contact me and I’d love to help you out!

Rob Carmody
Robert.john.carmody at gmail dot com

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Have a VCR Player for sale. Works great.

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By coincidence I found a tape that I had recorded 20 years ago. Just a standard quality tape and still perfectly watchable though the low VHS resolution is noticeable on a large screen.
If you do still have a VHS player do fire it up from time to time to keep if from seizing up.
Ideally tapes should be fast forwarded to the end then rewound to prevent magnetic print through but best of all transfer them to something newer.

Video to USB converters are available fairly cheaply. You don’t need anything high end when the source material isn’t that good!

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