A Halle's Service, Inc.
Phoenix, Arizona
est. 1964

MiniDV SP vs LP
DV Head Cleaning
Preserving Memories
Remote Controls
Auto Focus
Static Discharge
Camcorder Handling
Tapes & Disks
Digital Woes
Video Heads
Mixing Tape Brands
Exchange Policies
Battery Warranties
When Not to Repair

You probably purchased your camcorder to record and preserve memories of children growing up, vacations, family gatherings and other important events.  These tips will help insure will help insure those recordings are viewable ten or fifteen years from now.

bulletDon't try to fill up a tape. Use one tape for each important event (birth, first steps, 50th anniversary, etc). If you are on vacation, start a new tape each day. Tapes cannot be spliced or repaired. When a tape is damaged, the loss of one event or day is not nearly as traumatic as the loss of an entire vacation, or year of events when your child was growing up. Tapes are cheep compared to memories.
bulletStore tapes in their boxes, in a dry, room temperature environment, away from magnetic fields. TVs and stereo speakers radiate strong magnetic fields that in time can degrade the information recorded on magnetic tape. A metal file box will help shield your tapes from magnetic fields. A safe deposit box is even better.
bulletDo not use your original tapes for day to day playback of those memories. Copy them on to another tape, then store the original in a safe place as mentioned above.  You can always make another copy if needed, but once the original is damaged, the memories are lost.
bulletRemove tapes from the camcorder and return to their original box when finished recording for that session. When the tape is in the camcorder, it is loaded around the tape guides and video head drum. When powered off, it is possible for vibration to slack the tape, allowing it to slip off the guides and/or contact lubricants on the mechanism. This is probably the number one cause for damaged, tangled, and jammed tapes.
bulletMagnetic recordings do not last for ever. This is a topic the manufacturers do not like to talk about. Improperly stored, the data recorded on tape can be damaged in seconds. Properly stored, the consensus seems to be that good quality tape may show noticeable degradation after 7 to 10 years. Armed with that information, it would be wise to make copies of your master tapes about every 5 years, and keep those copies with the masters in the event the masters become unusable. 

Courtesy Halle's Service, Inc.

Last modified: March 31, 2007