Magnetic Tape Care

Magnetic Tape Care & Preservation

Magnetic Tape can degrade over time, if not properly cared for. It can start to lose data within 8 years and become totally unreadable within 20 years.

Yet, we entrust magnetic tape to preserve a precious commodity – our cultural heritage. Video tapes of historic events, master tapes of original music performances, home videos of family memories, and tapes of valuable business data are quietly deteriorating in drawers and cabinets all over the world. Eventually only tape backing and loose magnetic dust remain.

Fortunately, this cultural heritage can be saved and preserved indefinitely with proper care and treatment with LAST Tape Preservative.

What Causes Tape Deterioration

Breakdown of the binder that holds the magnetic particles to the plastic tape backing is the main cause of tape deterioration. The polyester component of the binder absorbs moisture from the air. When that occurs, the polyester breaks down into an acid and an alcohol and loses its ability to hold the magnetic oxide to the tape backing. If you have ever opened a box or canister of old tape, and smelled a “vinegar” smell, you have directly experienced binder breakdown.

Changes of temperature cause tapes to expand and contract, speeding up the process of moisture absorption. Once binder breakdown starts it accelerates over time, and culminates when segments of magnetic oxide no longer adhere to the tape. When this occurs, the tape is irretrievably lost.

Follow this link for our discussion on preservation options.

Tape Squeal

As tape ages, in addition to absorbing moisture, it loses internal lubricants. This increases stick-slip and can result in tape squeal.

How to Preserve and Protect Magnetic Tape

LAST Tape Preservative stops the mechanism that causes binder breakdown, which results in data loss. It also dramatically reduces the friction at the tape/head interface. This will greatly extended tape life, improve performance, and increase head life.

Benefits of LAST Tape Preservative

  • Significantly reduces data loss from magnetic tape
  • Increases head life
  • Reduces tape wear
  • Prevents tape squeal
  • Improves playback performance
  • Extends tape life by up to 10 times

Treated tapes stored under normal household conditions will last for decades. Treated tapes stored in ideal conditions may last more than 100 years.

New Tapes — Treat tapes immediately with LAST Tape Preservative to prevent moisture absorption.

Old Tapes — Older tapes have already absorbed moisture need to have the moisture removed before treatment with LAST Tape Preservative. We have found that vacuum drying (which requires special equipment) is the best method to remove moisture from tape (again, check this link for other options). Once drying is finished, treat the tape with LAST Tape Preservative.

Improve Frequency Response and Increase the Life of Heads and Guides

Designed to improve the interface between tape heads, guides, and magnetic media, LAST Tape Head Treatment reduces friction, tape stiction, and wear of guides and tape heads. Treating heads and guides will improve frequency response and reduce dropouts. Tape motion is noticeably smoother, resulting in a measurable reduction in I.M. distortion. LAST Tape Head Treatment clings to the surface of heads and guides with incredible tenacity. One application will last the entire length of the tape.