Updated October 2014
The Restoration Center @ Airshow received inquiries about media damaged in the September 2013 flooding in Colorado. While we do transfer analog to digital media and we do provide sonic restoration, we do not provide media recovery service.
Media recovery involves cleaning off and drying magnetic or optical media, with the goal to preserve the content until it can be safely transferred. Getting started early after a damaging event is better than waiting since mold accumulation from the water damage may be more challenging than water damage itself.
We checked with our colleagues at Lyrasis, the national academic library consortium with an active archive services group, to give our clients the best possible direction.
Here are documents from the web that we found particularly helpful.
- From the Minnesota Historical Society, a simple primer on drying reels of tape (hint: it involves a clothesline) and the supplies needed: https://airshowmastering.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/magnetic_reel.pdf
- From Specs Bros, of New Jersey, some commonsense advice – and encouragement – for holders of wet magnetic tape: http://www.specsbros.com/h_flood.htm
Short-term exposure to water does not destroy most magnetic tapes.
Most tapes recovered from floods can be restored if treated promptly.
Water, alone, cannot damage the magnetic recording on ferric oxide tapes.
Most contamination is on the edges or outer reels of tape; don’t unwind.
- From now-defunct Vidipax, their in-house procedure for removing mold from magnetic media: http://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/an/an25/an25-4/an25-408.html
All reference material we’ve found that address mold emphasizes the use of HEPA mask and protective gloves.
- From BMS CAT, a large disaster recovery firm, information focused on the first 24 hours, but still of value later, as you sort through your media:
Get Professional Help
- Specs Bros specializes in recovery of audio and videotape: 800-852-7732, email@example.com. Only you can assess the value of your media against the cost to recover it. Specs staff will give you fair guidance on the costs involved, and what steps you might take yourself.
- Lyrasis referred us to BMS CAT, based in Ft Worth TX. Heather Shimala (817.810.5635 or firstname.lastname@example.org) is available to answer questions and help you reach decisions about your media. Costs range based on their classification of tape from Level 1 (clear water only) to Level 4 (biohazard, sewage, other contaminated water exposure). They also recover LTO tape, and may be the only commercial company to handle this digital tape back-up medium.
- Lyrasis referred us to Polygon Group, based in N. Andover, MA. Joe Perko (917.573.6379 or email@example.com) is available to discuss your media.
- Lyrasis also refers its clients to Belfor, the national disaster recovery company. They have a Denver office: 303.425.9700
In a few months, when your precious tapes are clean and dry, please allow us to transfer them to digital media for safekeeping.