Mouldy Tapes on the rise
As time goes on, more and more old VHS, Beta and camcorder video tapes will be showing signs of age. This can come in many forms, from general poor picture quality and tracking on the TV screen, to physical damage of the tape or outer cassette itself. Tapes can suffer from effects of warping, affected by heat or cold, or becoming overwhelmed by dust, dirt or bugs.
One aspect we don’t often think of though, is MOULD.
In Australia’s varying climate and conditions, many home video tapes are prime targets for becoming mouldy, usually after being exposed to humid or moist conditions. While initially it may only look like small particles of white or grey ‘dust’ resting on the tape reel, this can quickly develop into full blown mouldy tapes, rendering your videos unwatchable and your memories lost. Mould will even grow on tapes stored correctly, so don’t assume that yours will be immune from the common signs of age.
At-home cleaning of mouldy tapes can involve opening the tape cassette and cleaning the tape directly with vinegar or preferably medical-grade alcohol on a cotton wool ball. This is generally not recommended without experience, as opening a video tape cassette can be fiddly. Additionally the mould could pose a health hazard as exposure to the mould can happen easily from inhaling the spores.
There are a few other options for dealing with mouldy tapes, but they are time consuming, fiddly, and also run the risk of damaging your equipment, so it’s generally best left to a professional to clean and convert your tapes to digital as soon as possible. Full tape cleaning is not something all conversion businesses offer, and in severe cases, your tapes may be too far gone to even run through a VCR for fear of badly damaging the heads.
Mould can also affect other media like audio tapes, slide transparencies, negatives, film and photos so having these archived as soon as possible is advised to retain the existing quality, not to mention then being able to access the images on your computer or media player and easily share them with your friends and family.
So don’t put it off any longer! Dig out the old box of tapes from the shed or from under the bed and see if you can spot any signs of degrading. Chances are, it’s already begun and mould will be putting your family memories at risk if you don’t act soon!
Please reply below if you have any questions or comments – I’d love to hear from you.