In the aftermath of hurricanes and severe flooding; homeowners, businesses and
archives frequently find video and audio tapes that have been exposed to water
and debris. Unfortunately, it’s all too often assumed that these tapes are ruined
and irreplaceable recordings are discarded when they could actually be saved.
For decades, magnetic tape disaster recovery experts have been developing and
successfully applying techniques to restore tapes exposed to floods and other disasters
to playable condition. No matter how damaged tapes that have been recovered from
a flood or hurricane site may look, most wet tapes can now be saved and restored if
they are treated properly.
Before deciding to discard your valuable recordings, it’s important to understand
how water and debris actually affect magnetic tape and what actions should and
should not be taken. The following are basic facts about wet tape, handling
suggestions to help with recovery and contact information if you need to speak
directly with a recovery expert.
You may well find that the tapes you thought were lost can actually be saved.
If your tapes have been in a flood, here are a few things you should know
about their condition:
1) Short-term exposure to water does not destroy most magnetic tapes.
2) Most tapes recovered from floods can be restored if treated promptly.
3) Water, alone, cannot damage the magnetic recording on ferric oxide tapes.
4) Large to medium size tapes resist damage better than very small tapes.
5) Most older, analog tapes resist damage better than newer tapes marked MP or ME.
You should also know:
1) Tape cases and shippers are not watertight and do not protect tapes from floods.
2) The most damaging exposure involves salt water, sewage or chlorinated tap water.
3) Extended exposure to water can eventually destroy magnetic tapes.
4) Uneven drying or exposure to heat can cause tapes to deform.
5) Incomplete or partial drying can result in damaging fungal growth.
IMPORTANT: Most tapes recovered from flood sites are not destroyed by the
flood exposure but by mishandling.
If your tapes have been in a flood and you want to save them, here are some
things you can do (and some warnings about things you should not do):
1) Never attempt to play wet tapes.
2) The sooner you do something, the more likely that your tapes can be saved.
For more information call: 908-301-9300