Should we keep our original videocassettes?

It’s a question we’re often asked by our clients who bring their home video cassettes to us for transfer to DVD and the like. Our answer is always the same – keep them.

A large number of a client's VHS videocassette collection on a desk

Part of a client’s VHS videocassette collection awaits digitising to files for editing in Apple Final Cut Pro X

We are often asked by clients whether the original home VHS or camcorder tapes should be retained once we have digitised them and saved their contents to DVD. Some people assume, quite reasonably, that DVD is the best medium for long-term storage of video recordings once they’ve been converted to digital. Sadly, there’s an increasing amount of evidence to suggest otherwise.

Some DVD discs are prone to degradation over a relatively short period of time – we have known discs to be unreadable after only 6 years – and although we use the excellent Taiyo Yuden brand we do know of instances where data has been damaged and lost in even less time.

Keep your precious home movie tapes backed up

We always advise our customers to ensure that they not only keep back-ups of their digitised recordings where possible (either by keeping copies of the DVDs themselves or asking us to write digitised files to your own hard disc drives, such as the pocket drives that you can now obtain at low cost). Whatever you decide, always retain the original tapes because their shelf-life is almost guaranteed to be the same as or even exceed that of DVD copies. SimplyDV’s Colin Barrett has videotape recordings, both home video and recordings that were shot and edited professionally, that date back to the late 1970s; many of them are as good today as they were when first recorded (and it’s a good job that we have the means to play them!).

The problem that will affect you, of course, is that you probably won’t have the means to play them on – the home VCR, camcorder or whatever. That’s OK. That’s what we’re here for!

We’re here to help you whatever your requirement

Remember that SimplyDV specialises in the transfer of your precious videotape recordings to DVD in addition to files that can be edited on your Windows or Apple Mac computer. Our customers range from home users who simply wish to retain a happy family memory of video, business users wishing to preserve company training and promotional videos, and also larger public organisations who seek advice on the digital capture, transcoding and archiving of analogue video recordings to computer files and discs. Whatever your need, we can help you to satisfactorily preserve those precious video recordings.

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