MiniDV Cassette Digital Video Tapes Storage

by Brian
(Ohio, United States)

A miniDV camcorder cassette tape for the storage of digital video.

A miniDV camcorder cassette tape for the storage of digital video.

In the past, I have been shooting a lot of mini DV digital video of family events, vacations, etc. Of course, miniDVs are rather small cassettes and the tape is very small and thin and therefore, I am wondering about the proper storage of the cassettes so that they will not be damaged and be playable and viewable well into the future.


Depending on the intended use of a magnetic tape, whether it be audio recordings, video, or data storage, the composition of the tape varies to some extent. Despite the differences, the general rule for the storage of all magnetic tape is store as cool and dry as possible within certain recommended ranges. The temperature should always be below 23 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity in the 15 to 50 percent range. Keep the tapes in their cases when the cassettes are not in use and store the cases vertically, not flat, and in a clean non-dusty environment. Following these basic requirements will help to preserve the magnetic tapes so that their content will be accessible in the future.

However, as noted, miniDV tapes are a very small format tape. The tape is also very thin, fragile, and vulnerable to damage and the chemical ingredients in the tape are not very stable. This means that even under reasonable storage conditions as stated above, the tapes have a 5 to 10-year lifetime. In addition, miniDV camcorders are being replaced by flash memory and hard drive camcorders and so it would be a good idea to make a second copy of the digital video as described below before you lose the ability to playback the miniDV video.

I would download the video onto a hard drive as an AVI file because this does not compress the file. I would then make a DVD of the video. In this way you would have the original miniDV tape, and as insurance should the tape fail or MiniDV camcorders disappear, an uncompressed version of it on a hard drive, and a DVD copy as well. Store the original tapes as best as you can and following the recommendations above.

Note the DVD copy is compressed video and information has been lost when compared to the original. Whether this is noticeable or not depends on the settings used during the creation of the DVD and the quality of the software used to code the DVD video.

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