Why is VHS Disappearing


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About 5 years ago a close friend warned me that I had better start transferring any home movies or prized VHS tapes that were more than 9 years old unto New VHS cartridges or better yet unto the new DVD discs before their 10 year shelf life expires. For a time some quick thinking entrepreneurs actually made a business out of charging customers to make the transfer for them. The fear of loosing my collection got me interested in investigating why I should or should not make the change.


VHS Tape Life


According to internet sources the average shelf life of VHS tapes is anywhere from 10 to 20 years depending on the quality of the tape material itself, the amount of usage, and the tapes storage environment. VHS tapes wear a little every time they’re played, so the more they’re played, the faster they wear out, not to mention the possibility of an uneven rewind, twists, and snaps. Excessive heat stretches the tape during a play cycle, and excessive cold makes the tape brittle. Not only are the tapes a weak point, the tape player itself wears out after just a few years of average regular use.


DVD Discs Have Longer Life Expectancy


The shelf life of the Pressed discs are expected to be longer than anyone in recent history has lived, this type of DVD which has superior image and sound quality, has a shelf life of up to 300 years.


Some Discs Last Longer Than Others


Among the DVD discs types there is also a difference in the life span. The erasable formats (DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW) are expected to last from 25 to 100 years. DVD-R and DVD+R discs are expected to last anywhere from 40 to 250 years, about as long as CD-R discs. Where as pressed discs (the kind that movies come on) are expected to last anywhere from 50 to 300 years. No matter which type of DVD Disc you’re thinking of using keep in mind that their shelf life is a lot longer than that of your typical VCR tape.


Signs of the VHS’s End


Another signal of the ending reign of the VCR tape happened on November 27, 2006, when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced that commercial films will no longer be released on VHS. Electronic equipment manufacturers have been downsizing their VHS recorder lines. Both department stores and small electronic stores are also cutting down on the variety of VHS recorders they carry in-stock — especially the higher-end systems such as S-VHS recorders.


With superior image and sound quality, longer shelf life, and compact size, DVDs have replaced VHS video as the format of choice for both consumers and business. With DVD players now available for less than the price of a VCR (under $50), and most video rental stores replacing their VHS tapes with DVD’s, DVD is the perfect format for many business presentations, and Video rental businesses, some of whom are now using the mail to deliver their movies to the public. The cost of mailing several DVDs is Less than the cost of mailing several VCR tapes, and the chances of them being damaged by improper handling and Climate conditions are far less.


Is the End Near?


Coupled with all of these reasons for the decline in VHS tape usage is the movement to replace tape with more recent technologies, such as optical discs, hard disk drives and flash-based storage systems. Altogether, these technologies are shrinking VHS' marketshare.


Final Note to Fellow VHS Collectors


One day soon we may look around and find that VHS tapes and players will only be available at the flea market or antique store.

If we truly prize everything in our collections we had better move
Fast towards reformatting them, and getting a spare “use in emergency only” players.



The Author Jerry T. was born in a small coal-mining town in West Virginia. At the end of World War II his father returned from the war and moved the entire family to Chicago Illinois. He was educated in the inner city completing high school and 2 years of college. After joining an apprentice-printing program, Jerry became a Master Printer and worked in his field for 37 years. Jerry is the father of 5 adult children and 13 grandchildren. The author is now trying his hand at his own web business at http://www.securityspy4u.com and livesafenow.com

Copyright © 2007 Jerry Tarrer


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