A client asked me a great ‘videotape to DVD’ question today…
“If we use your videotape to DVD service, which is the best way to ensure that my videotapes and cine films you’ve converted to DVD last as long as possible? They’re very precious family memories and I don’t just want these to last for a few years – but basically forever!”
First of all, I’m not talking here about how to create the best quality conversion from one media to another but rather advising a client on the best solution for ensuring longevity once analogue videotape to DVD (VHS, Video8, Hi8, MiniDV, VHS-C…) has been carried out.
If they wanted to know how to squeeze every last drop of quality out of their original material and digitize it into the best possible file type for storage or playback, that would be a whole different series of blogs!
Making your videotape to DVD conversions last forever
Once digitized on to DVD you can copy the disks as many times as you like, without further loss of quality. It’s quite a simple process on a PC and once copied there you can back-up the files to DVD or USB stick. I would personally do both.
Recordable DVDs are based on an organic material within a layer in the DVD being burnt with a laser; and through poor handling, storage, excessive light exposure, repeated playback and faulty playback machines, this layer can become corrupt over time. The solid state memory on a USB stick is more robust (albeit that you still have to care for it), but doesn’t offer features such as moving menus.
To further secure the data you could also back these USB sticks up to an online cloud storage facility. However, each DVD will contain up to 4.7GB of data, so this might take considerable time to upload.
What Video Artisan offer as a solution
In these situations we first suggest an additional DVD copy of each videotape transferred (see pricing here) and suggest these are stored away in a sealed box, in a dry and reasonably stable temperature environment (not the loft). Whilst the longevity of recordable DVDs is not actually known, stored in these conditions they should definitely last a lifetime.
Once converted to DVD we can then show clients how to copy the files to a USB stick or to their computer – or offer to provide the whole service (supply of an 32GB USB stick and copying the video files to them) at an additional cost of £10 per converted tape.
USB and DVD – belt and braces
Making these digital files last forever is then just a matter of the client (and everyone who comes after them) keeping on backing up or copying the digital files to whatever technology happens to evolve. That’s the hard part!
Tips on how to store your old videotapes
If you’re not quite ready to get your videotape to DVD conversions done quite yet, here’s some tips on how to keep your old videotapes in the best possible condition. Or you can watch the short film above.
Videotapes do deteriorate over time, so getting them converted is the best possible way to keep your memories safe and make them much easier watch and share.
- Keep them in their box – as this will help prevent dust and moisture getting to the tape.
- Store in dry conditions. Moisture can cause the oxide particles to separate from the tape.
- Keep away from magnets. The recording process is based on the magnetization of metal particles on the tape – so avoid storing near speakers or other appliances with strong magnets.
- Avoid storage in places with varying temperatures.
- Store the tapes upright to avoid the tape slipping on the reels.
- Rewind tapes fully before storing.
- Do not handle the tape it’s self.
Kevin Cook – Tapes2USB (part of Video Artisan)