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Backing Up And Restoring Old Document Formats

by Sylvia Miller

Bringing old formats such as video tapes, microfiche or floppy disks isn't as easy as putting a tape into a computer and copying things over, even with advanced equipment. To help you understand the difficulties and dangers of document conversion before trying it on your own, a few concepts can outline some of the issues.

Brittle Systems From Years In Storage

Not every tape has the luck of sitting in an airtight container for years. For many people, a bookshelf or box has been the only protection in the decades since video tapes, cassettes, 8-tracks or floppy disks were relevant. As time goes by, those systems can become quite brittle.

The science wasn't as precise on how long magnetic tape would last when many formats were popular. Media preservation experts are only beginning to see the effects of time on tapes, but many Video Home System (VHS) tapes and floppy disk owners have noticed that their tapes have begun to break after being only on the market for 10 years.

Some of the damage is due to rough handling. As many media types were popular, they could have been grabbed, thrown and played with many times over with the assumption that a new tape could be bought any time.

The plastic protector over most VHS tapes or the sliding cover on floppy disks have a history of being cracked or ripped due to improper handling. With the magnetic tape exposed, moisture and dust can begin to erode the material. 

Placing these vulnerable items into an amateur conversion system can result in a violent ripping and tearing that may be unrecoverable. 

Rely On Professionals If The Memories Matter

Professionals offering video tape conversion services, floppy disk recovery or other film and tape recovery services can place the items in their specialized conversion systems. These systems allow a higher level control that requires expert handling in order to keep your fragile memories intact.

There are times when a specific piece of information needs to be slowed down, examined and gently cared for across the entire tape surface, a feat with more involved actions than simply sitting and waiting for the tape to convert.

It isn't impossible to recover the information on your own, but keep in mind the requirements. There are some specific tools needed for cleaning off the magnetic tape without damaging the information, and chemical compounds necessary to preserve the data more accurately. If you need help with a recovery project, contact a conversion and recovery expert such as someone from Conway Office Solutions.