It may have been a long time since you thought about the old home videos laying in your parents' basement, let alone watched them, but now would be a good time to unearth them. VHS tapes don't last forever, and many are quickly wearing away, Good Housekeeping reports.
Technology that uses magnetic strips isn't very durable, since the tape loses magnetism over time. So most tapes are expected to wear out after 15-20 years, NPR reports. That means that if you recorded something in the '90s, it may already be destroyed.
Some people are calling this disintegration of VHS tapes the "magnetic media crisis." The term may seem dramatic if you're just considering clips of your first steps, but some libraries, museums, and universities rely on tapes for historical archives.
To make sure important historical moments are preserved, the group XFR Collective has digitized 67 hours of video on 155 old tapes and uploaded them to the online library Internet Archive. "In the heads of all Transfer Collective members, we do have kind of this 'tick-tock,'" member Mary Kidd told NPR. "Sometimes I do fall asleep at night thinking to myself, 'Oh my gosh, is this tape in the storage space that I own slowly turning into goo?'"
If that question's been on your mind as well, there are a few ways to preserve the memories currently stored on your VHS tapes. Many drugstores will transfer your tapes into DVD or Blu-Ray form for you. The site Legacy Republic will make DVDs for you, too. You can also do it yourself by connecting your computer to your VHS player with an analog converter, according to CNET.
Or, you can accept that your VHS tapes are on their way out...and comfort yourself with the knowledge that at least your memories won't die with them.