The lifespan of recordable VHS tapes

Some questions about these things:

  1. Which brands are best to use for repeated taping?

  2. Am I killing my tapes faster by recording everything in EP rather than in SP?

  3. If a new tape has unraveled inside the VCR and I wind it back into place, can I still use it for taping, or should I dump it?


Man, you sound like a real cheapskate.

Anyhoo, I have used the same three or four tapes for years. However, I record in SP, so I can’t answer that question.

I doubt the brand matters. They’re probably all made by the same factory in Asia anyway.

Once a tape has unraveled, it’s probably more likely to do that again in the future so I’d chuck it. If tapes continually unravel, your VCR needs adjusting. (That happened to me once.)

Around 15 years VHS starts to turn to fuzz from which you can’t get it back. My EP recordings became fuzzy way longer before that, like around 3 or 4 years for some reason. EP resolution is pathetic anyway :slight_smile:

It also depends on where you store the tapes. If they’re exposed to heat at all, they’ll start flaking and fill your VCR with loose crap. So the older the tape, the more often you need to clean your heads since it’s a rare tape that has been stored under perfect condition all that time.

[mini-hijack] What’s the best way to remove a tape that has become stuck inside the VCR? [/mini-hijack]



Get a screwdriver and open the machine and VERY carefully unwind it from around the tape path. If the tape is of no value, you can cut it loose. Be careful not to scratch any of the parts, especially the drum.

Back to the OP:

Way back in 1984, when I first started taping, I used Scotch & Kodak tapes whenever I could afford them (they ran about $4-5 EACH!). I still have the first tape I made to keep. It’s almost twenty years old and is still watchable, although the colors appear to have faded a little. I have had “junk tapes” that I used to use to tape stuff I didn’t want to keep that I have used hundreds of times that have suffered very little wear.

Storage is the key. Despite having survived 7-8 moves, all of my old tapes are in great shape.

About a year ago, I found some videotapes I had recorded back around 1983. They were extended speed copies I had made on sale priced tapes by hooking up my dirt cheap VCR to a rental machine and making duplicates of tapes I rented from a store. The tapes had been stored in a non-climate controlled warehouse for several years when I came across them. Basically these poor things were about as abused as videotapes could be. The only thing I can say in their favor was that were only taped on once.

But I popped a couple of them in my VCR and to my amazement they were in good condition. So I guess it is possible to find old videos that are still watchable.

Just make Aes buy the tapes.


VCR first aid: removing a jammed tape..

Also, A little bit on tape lifetime.

My oldest tapes, c. 1983, look great. But they are Betas, so they looked great to begin with. Stuff recorded on VHS last week doesn’t look as good.

Anyone advocate storing them played instead of rewound?
The theory being that a rewound tape is stretched and deformed if stored that way.

Anyone used a PC card to burn MPEGS on CD?

I am a major taper. I tape stuff I want to see, then watch the tapes. That way I can fast-forward thru the commercials.

In my experience, I have not been able to tell any noticeable quality differences between any of the T-120 and T-160 tapes. They last and last thru repeated tapings and reviewings (on average, each tape gets recorded and reviewed about once a month). None of my tapes is newer than 5 years old. Some are 15!

T-180s and T-200s–different story. Yep, they get more on a tape (9 and 10 hours respectively in SLP), but they definitely wear out sooner. In my experience, the T-180s last an average of about 4 years. The T-200s, two.

My oldest purchased tapes (and not subjected to constant re-recording) are 19 years old, and they still play well.

NCB: Yeah, really! :smiley:

I buy all T-120s and record in EP so I can get up to 6 hrs’ worth of material on each tape. They are generally stored in a hall closet on the shelf, but I do keep some out and about for easy grabbing.

Here’s my own method for getting a tape out when the “ribbon” has unraveled around the tape heads:

I use a lead pencil to lift the ribbon carefully out of the VCR. Sometimes I have someone hold a flashlight on the operation so I can use my free hand to hold open the little door.
I just did this the other day and wound the tape back up again. I still don’t know if it will be any good to use.