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How to Care for Your Recorded and Blank Videocassettes

How to Care for Your Recorded and Blank Videocassettes

"Hey, let's watch that movie I taped a couple of months ago.  Now where did I put that videocassette?  I wonder if it's in this pile of stuff on the floor... ."

And when you find that tape, do you sometimes wonder why that special movie looks or sounds funny?  Maybe it has white spots on the picture, or the actors sound like they're underwater?

Sound familiar?  Chances are that your tape isn't really to blame; maybe you shouldn't have been treating your videocassettes like an old sock.

Taking care of your recordings is really quite easy.  There are some really simple things you can do if you want your tapes to look and sound as good as they did when you first recorded them.  All you have to do is follow some simple steps:

  1. When you buy new blank tapes, store them in a cool, dry place.  Keep them out of direct sunlight and away from sources of heat.
  2. As soon as you unwrap a new videocassette, label it immediately.  Failure to do so could cause you to accidentally record over something you particularly wanted to keep.
  3. Once you've finished your recording, rewind the tape to the beginning.  Then, remove the protective "erase tab" on the back of the cassette; this prevents you from recording over that which you just recorded.  If you want to reuse the tape at a later date, simply put a small piece of tape over the opening.
  4. If your recording is especially important -- a special family event or a rare movie or TV show -- consider making a copy with a second VCR.
  5. Keep the cassette in its sleeve or an accessory case.  This will keep dust and dirt from getting on the videotape and causing problems later on.  Dust and dirt not only damage the tape, they can also damage your VCR.  Dirty recording and playback heads can not only ruin your tapes, they can require expensive repairs.
  6. Keep your recorded videocassettes away from speakers or other types of electronic equipment.  Most equipment emits a small magnetic field that can erase bits of your recording.
  7. Store both your recorded and blank videocassettes upright, like a book.  Be sure the spool with the tape on it is at the bottom.
  8. Periodically take your recorded cassettes off the shelf and fast-forward and rewind them in your VCR.  This ensures even tension across the tape itself while in storage.
  9. When you are ready to watch a tape that you recorded some time ago, first examine the cassette to make sure it looks like it's in normal condition.  If the cassette looks wrong -- if a piece is broken, if something appears loose inside -- do NOT put it in your VCR.  If you think something is awry, don't try to fix the cassette yourself.  Contact the tape's manufacturer for advice on how to handle the situation.

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