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  • How Long Do Audio Cassette Tapes Last?


    When properly cared for, an audio cassette tape can last 30 years or longer. However, many factors can shorten that lifespan considerably. The two most common causes of premature tape death are equipment malfunction (“The cassette player ate my tape!”) and heat (“The radiator melted my tape!”).

    Cassette Tape Lifetime Factors

    All cassette tapes were not created equal. Longer tapes (90 and 120 minutes) required the use of thinner tape, which makes those tapes more susceptible to breaking. Older tapes using chromium dioxide as a coating may not be as durable as later tapes using magnetite, cobalt-absorbed iron oxide, or ferric oxide and cobalt. The felt pressure pads on lower quality tapes may deteriorate or fall of earlier. Tapes recorded on both sides may not last as long as single-sided recordings, due to bleed-through of the magnetic fields.

    cassette-tapeProper Care

    Cassette tapes should be stored in a cool (50-70 degree Fahrenheit) dry (20-40% relative humidity) place. For best results, fast forward and rewind each tape before storage to ensure the tape is properly positioned within the cassette. Cassette tapes should be stored vertically, to prevent damage to the edges of the tape media.

    Cassette tapes should be used yearly to help prevent layers of tape from becoming stuck to each other.

    Fixing Tapes

    If a cassette tape is damaged, you can sometimes recover all or part of the recording by opening the cassette and moving the magnetic tape to an undamaged cassette housing. This is easier with cassette tape housings which are screwed together instead of the types which are welded together.

    Digitizing

    If the tape contents need to be preserved for a longer period than the life of the audio tape, it will need to be transferred to a digital format such as FLAC.

    • Jamie

      I love audio cassettes, and as long as they are kept in their cases when not in use, they can last for a long, long time!

    • stpworld

      I to stil use audio tapes every day I take very good care of mine we have ones made in 1968 still playing like new I always maintain the machines and make sure the tapes are tight and rewound when put away I have also switched all of my machines from spring button to touch button decks that will also increase the life by alot because you do not put as much force on the deck cause they work by a computer chip instead of you forcing a button I even have touch button walkmans. To all who still use tapes I highley recommend this I havent had a jamup in 18 years since doing that.

      • Jimmy Vreeland

        what brand of player do you have?
        jimmy

    • LG1932 .

      I need to buy some cassette tapes. I feel I need to back up copies of the ones that I use. What is a good brand to buy?
      I am not sure they are still being made and may have to resort to buying old new stock from Ebay.

      Where do you buy yours?

      Thank you.

      • http://www.ascic.net/ Zeljko Ascic

        Between 5 to 10 years. This is because it depends a lot on how 1) you handle it, 2) how you store it and 3) how often you play it or rewind it. Can’t you just digitalize your tapes and keep it on computer or some other medium?

    • LG1932 .

      I am hoping someone will come along soon to answer this post so I can purchase someplace the cassettes.

    • LG1932 .

      Digitalizing sounds like a fabulous idea in the right situations. The problem is we have a couple of cars that we drive that still has cassette players in them. Keeping with the era, we still use the tapes. There fore need to find some to purchase so I can make new ones of the ones I have.

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