Skip to main content

Unlike Wine, Tape Does Not Improve With Age

Tapes do not improve with age. Quite the opposite. Corporates, consumer and heritage clients have vast archives of magnetic tape that contain information that needs to be preserved. 

70% of all audio-visual material is under the threat of deterioration, damage or obsolescence. From about 1950 through the 1990s, most of the world’s audio-visual was entrusted to analogue magnetic recording tape for archival storage. 

Now that analogue magnetic tape has moved into a niche archival market, that we at Oxford Duplication Centre specialise in, it is time to reflect and realise that it is time to start worrying about the remaining lifetime of existing tapes. 

 Video tapes are fundamentally composed of three layers: 

 1. the binder layer – magnetic particles responsible for signal quality 
 2. the substrate – stability, strength and friction support 
 3. the backing – stability, strength and friction support 

Corporate and consumer tapes all share one thing in common: they are magnetic media. There are many ways tape can deteriorate: 

 • Magnetic particles gradually lose their charge, in a process called remanence decay resulting in some colour shift toward weaker hues and loss of detail. 

 • Magnetic particles may accidentally demagnetise. This can be from storing too near a magnetic source or even from the playback machine itself. 

 • The lubricant in the binder layer is used up. With each playback it erodes, the binder layer itself takes on more wear, which can directly cause information loss.  

• The binder layer can become a sticky and unplayable. The binder’s polymers will absorb water eventually delaminate. Typically called sticky-shed syndrome. Playing a tape in this condition will damage both tape and the playback machine. 

 • The backing and substrate can become stretched. Multiple rewinding’s and playback. This causes tracking errors that can dramatically reduce playback quality. 


If the content is important and should not be lost, copy it now. Do not rely on old tape. Unlike wine, tape does not improve with age. Developing a logical plan and sticking with it is an important part of preserving the audio-visual assets in your collection. It is important to consider that equipment and related knowledge about how to play older tapes will not survive much longer. 

Fortunately, at Oxford Duplication Centre we hold some of the rarest tape machines which are serviced and maintained by our experienced team. 

Kind regards 

Oxford Duplication Centre 
Corporate, Consumer and Heritage Digitisation 
29 Banbury Road Kidlington Oxfordshire OX5 1AQ 

Tel: 01865 457000 
Current opening hours: Monday to Friday 10-3pm by appointment only 


Oxford Duplication Centre Corporate, Heritage and Consumer Digitisation Services within Audio Video Film Image and Text. Oxford duplication Centre


Popular posts from this blog

Glass Plate Negative Scanning in Oxfordshire UK

The Preservation of Glass Plate Negatives Highly recommended in Oxfordshire and Thames Valley as one of the leading scanning and archive specialists, we hold 5***** testimonials from University of Oxford, B4 Business, Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums to include thousands of consumer clients. From small orders to large bulk order archives our team excel in all areas of digital scanning solutions. Our digitisation and scanning department can support public and corporate media to include glass plate negatives and lantern slides . Once scanned the negatives can be converted into digital formats such as RAW, JPEG, JPEG2000, TIFF, BMP and Adobe PDF in full colour or greyscale.


NON DESTRUCTIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE DIARY AND BOOK SCANNING Non destructive book scanning supports clients with an affordable option for all books, regardless  of the paper type or whether colour or black and white.  We can offer searchable PDF and editable Word documents for each book scanned. Our digitisation services extend to rare book scanning and bound volumes. This includes diaries, magazines, newspapers and any other type of files, all sizes and either small or large volume. Digital formats and ABBYY Fine Reader Professional OCR technology offered in your chosen files. Books Scanned and Returned Intact No Price Difference for Colour or Greyscale All Orders Receive PDF of your books OCR Options with ABBYY Fine Reader Available Word and Searchable PDF Options Books Scanned at 300dpi for Black and White, 600dpi for Greyscale or Colour Many Book Sizes Catered For Book Scanning OCR Technology Local History Book Scanning Archiving Kind regards Cheryl Director Oxford Duplication T

The Repair Shop - How To Spot A Ferrotype Camera 1855-1940s

After watching The Repair Shop on BBC1 restore a beautiful and rather rare ferrotype camera I thought a blog on the process would be interesting. Not only did they repair but they managed to have the camera working, taking photographs. This was very inspirational given the age of the camera. ABOUT FERROTYPE PROCESS Ferrotypes first appeared in America in the 1850s, but didn’t become popular in Britain until the 1870s. They were still being made by while-you-wait street photographers as late as the 1950s. The ferrotype process was a variation of the collodion positive, and used a similar process to  wet plate photography . A very underexposed negative image was produced on a thin iron plate. It was blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling, and coated with a collodion photographic emulsion. The dark background gave the resulting image the appearance of a positive. Unlike collodion positives, ferrotypes did not need mounting in a case to produce a positive i