July 10, 2017

Videotapes won't last

NPR - Research suggests that [videotapes] aren't going to live beyond 15 to 20 years. Some call this the "magnetic media crisis," and archivists, preservationists, and librarians are trying to reverse it.

Here's how magnetic tapes work: Sounds and images are magnetized onto strips of tape, using the same principle as when you rub a piece of metal with a magnet and it retains that magnetism. But when you take the magnet away, the piece of metal slowly loses its magnetism — and in the same way, the tape slowly loses its magnetic properties.

"Once that magnetic field that's been imprinted into that tape has kind of faded too much, you won't be able to recover it back off the tape after a long period of time," says Howard Lukk, director of standards at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

Most tapes were recorded in the 1980s and '90s, when video cameras first became widely available to Americans. That means even the best-kept tapes will eventually be unwatchable.

Lukk estimates there are billions of tapes sitting around. There are plenty of services out there to digitize tapes — local stores, online services, even public libraries and universities. Some services are free; some cost a lot of money.

The thing is, many people don't realize their tapes are degrading.

And some who do know  haven't even gotten around to their own tapes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is not new information. We've known this for many years. That's why we don't use tape anymore and anything worth keeping has been digitized and backed up, because, hard drives don't last either.