What happened to your VHS collection

VHS dubbed - what can be saved?

Posted on by vinett-video Mediaservice

We remember the following situation from the 1990s with horror: The favorite show starts at any moment and should be recorded, you pick up the next VHS cassette, press "Record" and it happens - the wedding video has been transferred. Once such a faux pas happens, it can be very painful. But what can really still be saved from overplayed VHS material? And what can be done to protect cherished recordings on VHS from such slips?

Recovery made difficult

In the normal operation of digital media such as hard drives, data is constantly being added and removed. Deleted data on a hard drive can therefore usually be recovered, at least in part, even if it is formatted. Sometimes this is even possible from home with freeware programs.

Even if the VHS cassette appears robust and indestructible at first glance, it is much more difficult in its case to reconstruct data that has once been transferred. With old analog tapes, it was actually possible to restore some recordings if the tape was erased using a magnetic field. This is due to the low data density of the older systems. With a recorded VHS, however, a reconstruction is very unlikely, since the data density on the tape with the usual helical track recording is far too great to be able to save recordings in a usable quality - and this problem cannot be solved from home with help solve a software.

Data recovery can only be carried out by a specialist and is difficult even here, because such processes are usually used in the field of data forensics. For this purpose, the tape is subjected to a residual magnetization analysis, which determines the extent of the damage and whether usable images can be restored. This process is associated with considerable costs. An enormous reduction in quality can also be assumed.

Avoid accidental dubbing

In any case, it is much cheaper to be careful with your video cassettes right from the start. Sometimes it can be enough to just follow the simple advice of correctly labeling your VHS collection so that it doesn't fall victim to the record button next time. However, there are a few more tips that can be observed so that VHS recordings are preserved for a long time and can be viewed often:

Operate the safety switch

In order to prevent a faux pas like accidentally copying from VHS, an integrated security system was already considered when developing the video cassette. There is a small switch at the back of the hard case. If this is broken out, the contents of the cassette are secured - and thus protected from any dubbing, even if the tape should ever get into the wrong hands.

Make a VHS backup

In the age of digital data storage, the possibility of multiplying your video material thousands of times over has almost become a matter of course - but it is also a good idea to create a backup copy for old, beloved VHS material. This not only prevents the complete loss of data due to accidental overwriting of the VHS, but it also makes it possible to give away old videos as a souvenir to loved ones. In order to preserve the “retro charm” of the video cassette formally, recordings can be copied from VHS to VHS. This requires a playback and a recording recorder, which are connected to the television via a Scart output and an AV input.

Digitize VHS material

However, those who want to secure their VHS long-term and use it flexibly nowadays usually choose the path of digitization. This is often even necessary because not every household still has a video recorder. Digitized recordings can be viewed not only on the television, but also on the computer or on the go. In addition, the recordings can be edited on the computer or easily reproduced.

At the same time, digitization is also recommended from the point of view of data maintenance, since recordings on magnetic tape lose quality over the years due to environmental influences and wear and tear, and in the worst case can even be completely destroyed. On the other hand, valuable video memories can be stored and preserved digitally over the long term. It is also possible to transfer VHS to DVD from home if a few tips are followed.

If the wedding video is accidentally overwritten, there is not much to be done from home. A specialist can check whether parts of the recordings are still there or can be reconstructed. But apart from the fact that you may have to dig deep into your pocket for this service, you can safely assume an enormous loss of quality compared to the original.

In general, therefore, the following always applies: Prevention is better than aftercare.