Article ID : S1F0466 / Last Modified : 06/29/2009

Tapes - Frequently Asked Questions

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How many times can a tape be used for recording?

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Magnetic tapes can be played or re-recorded an indefinite number of times. However, the physical limits of the tape media must be considered. Although Sony® tapes are very durable, the more that a tape is accessed or used, not only will the wear and tear on the tape shorten the life expectancy but it will also start to degrade the recordings. In addition, hardware issues, such as tape path alignment, tape tension, condition of the tape heads and pinch roller, and improper and/or infrequent equipment cleaning will also affect the number of times you can record on the tape. Short media life is typically related to tape damage from equipment problems.


How long will a tape last?

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The longevity of magnetic tape media manufactured by Sony can range anywhere from approximately 15 to 30 years, depending on the following:

  • The quality of the tape media.
  • The number of times the tape is accessed (played).
  • The care and storage of the tape media.

Note: Shorter media life is typically related to tape damage from equipment issues or improper handling.


What is the best way to store tapes for longevity?

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The following guidelines should help in extending the life of your magnetic tape media:

  • Tapes should be stored in a cool, dry place with a normal room temperature of anywhere between 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity (RH) rating of between 40-60%.
  • The environment where the tapes are being stored and used should be clean and free of airborne debris (food, dirt, dust, smoke, etc).
  • Avoid placing tapes on the floor.
  • Always rewind and then store the tapes in their protective cases.
  • Tapes should be stored in an upright position, preferably with the supply side down. Tapes should never be laid flat for extended periods of time.
  • Avoid physical shock to the tape. Handle the tapes carefully and take care not to drop them.
  • Do not expose the tapes to direct sunlight and heat. Never store tapes on a window sill or near radiators or machinery.
  • Tapes should not be placed near any type of magnetic fields to prevent loss of information.
  • Limit access. Tapes that are frequently accessed may have a reduced life expectancy due to wear and tear.
  • Keep the tape equipment well maintained. Short tape life is generally due to issues with the equipment.

Can information be recovered from damaged media?

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It is possible to recover information that has been recorded on your media (such as music, pictures or video) as long as the files have not been written over and depending on the type of defect or damage sustained to the recording media, which includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Tapes (VHS, Microcassette, Audio)
  • Compact Discs (CD)
  • DVDs
  • Blu-ray Disc™ (BD) media
  • Flash media (such as Memory Stick® media or Micro Vault® storage devices)

For more information on the recovery services that are offered, visit the Sony® Media Services Web site at www.sonymediaservices.com.


Do airport security devices cause harm to Sony® electronic products and related media?

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The potential for harm to a Sony® electronic product and the related media will depend on the type of security device being used. Airport security devices use many different technologies to perform their function:

  • X-ray machines have no effect on Sony electronic products and related media.
  • Magnetic imaging equipment may cause harm to electronic components, including data loss on media with magnetic properties; such as hard drives, floppy disks, magnetic tapes, and Memory Stick® media.

Important: Airport Security should be consulted for the proper procedure when boarding with any of these items.


Why is only part of the video showing and the audio distorted on my tape recording?

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When you are experiencing pixelization, blocking or distortion on your tape media recordings, these can be a result of several different problems related to your tape equipment, such as tape edge damage, creases, or clogged (dirty) tape heads.

Proper tape path alignment, operating tensions, the condition of the pinch roller and the video or audio tape head condition of the tape equipment should be checked by a service technician. The Sony® eService Web site at http://eservice.sony.com can assist you in obtaining service from a Sony Service Center or locating a Sony Authorized Servicer.


Why are there more problems with longer-length tapes?

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Some of the longer-length tape media are produced with thinner polyester base films. This is done to allow more tape to be wound into the tape housing. With properly maintained equipment (equipment that has been aligned, cleaned, calibrated, etc.), the use of this longer-length media should not be a problem. However, if any deficiencies are evident with the equipment, it will usually be revealed on this longer-length media since this thin base film tape is more prone to any type of damage.


How can I recover a portion of a tape that was recorded over by accident?

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There is no way to recover a previous recording once a new recording has been added to the tape media.


Does Sony manufacture or recommend tape rewinders?

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Sony does not manufacture tape rewinders. Due to the fact that tape rewinders are not servo-controlled (a system that maintains stable tracking) and are not built to the same standards as your Sony® unit, we do not recommend the use of tape rewinders. We recommend using the unit to rewind the tape.