Factors affecting the life of the tape over which you have some control are:
- The care with which it is handled and shipped, discussed in Section 5.1: Care and Handling.
- The quality of the conditions in which it is stored, discussed in Section 5.2: Storage Conditions and Standards.
- The number of times the tape is accessed during its lifetime, discussed in Section 5.1: Care and Handling: Frequent Access.
Other factors that affect media over which you have less control are:
- The physical components of the tape, discussed in Section 2: What Can Go Wrong with Magnetic Media?
- The quality of the tape being purchased; for example, standard grade versus high grade VHS.
- Variation in the quality of the manufacturer; for example, a name brand versus a bargain brand.
- Future availability of system technology to play back the tape. For example, quadruplex videotapes still exist in archives; however, the equipment to play them back is considered obsolete, and it is difficult to find working recorders.
Care and Handling
Magnetic tape should receive the same kind of care that you would give to a valuable book or important photograph. In general, handle the tapes with care, keep them clean, and apply common sense:
- Use and store magnetic tape reels and cassettes in a clean environment.
- Avoid contamination of the tapes by dirt, dust, fingerprints, food, cigarette smoke and ash, and airborne pollutants.
- Take care not to drop tapes or cartridges.
- Keep tapes out of strong sunlight and avoid contact with water.
- Do not store tapes on radiators, window sills, televisions, electronic equipment, or machinery.
- When the tapes are not in use, they should be placed back on the storage shelf, and stored on end. They should not be allowed to lay flat (reel flanges parallel with the table top) for extended periods of time.
- Bye, hit pause button, yup.