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Storing Media - Music and Video

Tall Pines Storage | June 14, 2022 @ 12:00 AM

Last month, we explored how to store photo prints and paper documents. Check out the article here if you missed it. This month we’re tackling the other half of Media Storage - Music and Videos.

Storing music and video brings up many questions. What do I do with these old VHS tapes? How long does a CD last? Can I safely store my vinyl albums if it gets really hot? CDs can last for decades, maybe even up to a century without degrading. However, those old cassettes, VHS tapes (yes, Betas too), and vinyl records take a lot more care.

Are those cassettes still any good?

Magnetic media, like cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes, 8-tracks, and video tapes of all formats, including 8mm, VHS, and Betamax are all very susceptible to damage from high temperatures and age. The tape “dries out” over time and will become unplayable. It is very important that tapes are stored in their original boxes if possible, and that they are stored under climate-controlled conditions, as their lifespan can be increased by keeping them at “room temperature. 

In all honesty, anything you still own in these formats is on borrowed time - these media types typically have a lifespan of 30 years, IF they’ve been stored correctly. On top of the decline in audio or visual quality, the older they get, the more susceptible they become to being damaged by tape players, if you can find one, and with them being hard to come by nowadays, you really can’t count on magnetic tape media for long-term storage.

Most people will find that the audio quality of tapes is just not comparable to modern, digital versions, or even vinyl, so preserving some of that old music is probably not worth the effort or expense. Old videos may not have great quality, but typically cannot be reproduced - you can’t re-take those images of your kids and family, so they have a lot more sentimental value. The best solution for saving these videos is to have a professional who specializes in digital preservation convert them to a digital format that can be viewed on modern equipment, and safely stored - either on DVDs, in “the cloud”, or both.

Vinyl and Album Art

Vinyl albums have seen a resurgence in recent years, and many people consider their records to be much more than just music - those album jackets and inserts, whether for vinyl or CDs, make up a large body of collectible art. These very desirable vinyl albums take a lot of extra care to store correctly.

Getting those records ready for storage

First, if you’re not in the habit of cleaning your record after listening, take the time to properly clean your record. Once you’ve removed all of those fingerprints and dust, store it in its original sleeve. If the sleeve is ripped or missing, you can find replacements online.

Once your record is clean and in its sleeve, store it inside that original jacket. If your jacket does not have a plastic cover, you can find clear plastic protective sleeves online, ensuring that your album art remains clean and pristine. 

Be sure to purchase archival quality sleeves for your albums - you want to be sure that your storage materials are acid free, so that the paper labels and album art is not damaged over time.

Storing albums and CDs 

It is very important that vinyl be stored upright - NEVER stacked one on top of the other. Be sure that you store them like books on a shelf. Special containers are made for this purpose, or if you’re in a pinch, you can use the book storage boxes we sell in our facilities’ offices. Just remember - store those records vertically - not on their sides. 

Vinyl albums should always be stored under controlled conditions. The ideal climate for vinyl record storage is 65° to 70° F and 45% to 50% humidity - the kind of weather conditions you’ll find in our climate-controlled units.

CDs should be stored the same way as your vinyl, although temperature control is not as critical; clean, in their original jewel cases (replacements can be found online) and upright.

When you’re ready to find a suitable spot to safely store your art and music collection, click on the Storage Locations link at the top of the page to find one of our facilities that offers the climate-controlled unit you’re looking for.

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