We get asked all the time here whether we will be able to digitize some really old tapes or film that a customer plans to send in. The answer 99% of the time is yes! With our state-of-the-art technology and trained technicians, we can digitize all media items that are sent to us, even if they are broken. We can run into trouble however if the media item is badly degraded from either mold or moisture. Fortunately, this is rarely the case.
So how do you know if your video tapes, film reels, and photos will be able to be successfully digitized? Luckily, there is an easy way to check.
How to Check your Video Tapes for Mold
The easiest way to do this is to simply look at your video tape. In particular, you want to look at the tape rolls through the plastic window on the tape. What you are looking for is signs of mold damage, and it is pretty obvious if there is some. Tapes that have mold damage will have white material all over the tape itself, and it will be difficult to even see the tape. If your tape is completely covered in mold, then we cannot digitize it and it is likely damaged beyond repair. On the other hand, if there are only a few specks of mold here and there, then we can still digitize it.
In the above image, you can see through the plastic window that the tape is extremely moldy. A tape like this cannot be digitized and is likely permanently damaged.
How to Check your Tapes for Moisture Damage
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to check your tapes for moisture damage. Moisture damage typically occurs if your tapes were fully submerged in a flood for an extended period of time. When this happens, the tape becomes damaged beyond repair. This is an extremely rare circumstance and we rarely come across it. If you think your tapes may have been damaged in a flood, you can send them in anyways and we will see if we can digitize them.
Other Types of Damage to Video Tapes
Tapes can be damaged in other ways as well, including physical and mechanical damage. Fortunately, we can fix and repair most types of physical damages including damaged housing, cut tapes, and mechanical problems. We fix these for free.
What about Film Reels
Film reels are usually older than video tapes but are much more resistant to fading and mold/moisture. Mold and moisture almost never damage film reels and the biggest risk comes from prolonged sunlight exposure which can cause the film to fade. You can check yourself if a film reel has faded by holding it up to artificial light and looking at the images. Faded images will appear very bright and impossible to distinguish what is one them. Fortunately, it is usually only a few frames that are affected and the rest of the film should be in pretty good shape, so it is worth sending those in to get digitized.
Last but certainly not least, can you digitize my old photos?
Our technology has come a long way when it comes to digitizing photos. We do not digitize like the companies of old with a cheap scanner and artificial light. Instead, we use high-tech commercial scanners and proprietary software to scan and digitize your images. Moreover, our technicians can revitalize and restore photos that have had their colors washed out and experienced some fading. So send in every single photo you have, as we can digitize even the ones that may seem lost forever.
Conclusion: Don't Wait to Digitize
When it comes down to it, the conclusion is you should not wait longer than you must to digitize. Video tapes, film, and photos degrade each and every day, and digitizing preserves them forever. Digitizing also disaster-proofs these memories and protects them from loss or damage. With Digital Memory Backup (only offered at The Digitize Center), your digitized memories will be backed up in our secure cloud and will be forever safe. Only you can access this cloud and you can share access with specific family and friends.