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'Contagious' fungus threatens videotape collections

Bold mould

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Video digitising hardware makers are leaping for joy over news ye olde VHS tapes are becoming unwatchable thanks to an outbreak of mould.

According to a Telegraph report this week, too many folk, museums, archive owners and collectors are keeping their old tapes in damp conditions.

While the wet won't harm videotape, it nonetheless encourages the growth of fungus which forms a white, powdering coating on the tape. Video restoration experts claim once that happens, the tape's fit only for the bin. Not only does it render tapes almost unplayable, but it's highly contagious, requiring the merest contact to spread from one tape to another.

So you should them warm and dry, yes? No, that doesn't work either. Over time, tapes' cellulose foundation can dry out and become brittle.

All of which, say accessory makers, means you should computerise your cassette collections immediately, using products like the Pinnacle Video Transfer and other such gadgets.

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