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Can I Send Tapes with Mold?

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By Katy Sommerfeld

Imagine your family has come to your house for a visit, and you get to talking about all of your memories. You remember that you have a box full of home videos from over the decades in the basement, and you run to go and get them.

Maybe you can get them digitized in order to relive those special times with your loved ones!
You open up that old box of your family moments, only to find a bad smell and some fuzziness growing inside the cassettes. You guessed it: you’ve got mold.

 

How could this happen? Well, videotape is made of a plastic-based Mylar material, and that material is very attractive to mold. When those videotapes are stored in a dank, dark environment like a basement, mold will flourish. The mold can get in between layers of tape and grow inside the reel mechanisms of cassettes. 


After finding mold on your tapes, you’re probably wondering if you can still send in your videos to Southtree for digitization. The short answer is no - and we’ve got a couple of reasons why. But don’t lose heart just yet! There may be some hope for those beloved tapes of yours. 


Certain types of mold can be very dangerous to human health, and we do not want to subject our digitization technicians to any potential hazards. Exposure to certain molds can cause breathing issues, allergic reactions, infections, and more, so it is unsafe for our technicians to be handling any types of mold, as the potential for hazard is high. 


Another reason we will not accept moldy tapes is because of the poor quality digitizations that come from then. When digitizing dirty media, the imperfections in the tapes will come through in the new, digital copy. In order to avoid this problem, we will not accept moldy tapes for digitization. It’s not worth your money to send in a moldy tape just to get back a poor quality transfer!


If you’ve found mold on your tapes, all hope is not lost yet. There are ways to clean up moldy tapes that are safe and effective. Once cleaned, it is safe to then send in your tapes to Southtree for digitization. Just make sure you clean in all the crevices of your cassettes and along each side of the tape - in order to stop the spread of mold, you’ll need to be diligent to remove all of it from the tapes. 


If you’re reading this and wondering how you can prevent mold growth on your videotapes and other media, there are some concrete ways that you can make mold less likely to grow. The first is to store your media on the ground floor of your home in a temperature controlled area. A closet is a great storage space, as it is typically air-conditioned and free of light and excess humidity. Basements and attics should be avoided. Another great way to prevent mold growth is to check out your tapes semi-regularly and spot clean them as needed. Too much cleaning can damage the tape, so make sure you are only cleaning them if absolutely necessary. 


Of course, the only way to completely preserve and protect your analog media is to get it digitized. Digitization creates a digital copy of your favorite memories caught on camera so that you can access and share them easily and never fear that they will get lost or damaged. With Southtree, you can send in your tapes and receive digital copies of your most personal and special memories in just a few short weeks. Our professional digitization technicians know how to work with all kinds of media and will ensure the best possible digital transfer. There’s no time like the present, but we don’t want to let our past memories get damaged by mold and other factors.

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