Magnetic media

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Magnetic media refers to magnetised recording formats that store analogue or digital information. The format carrier or substrate is coated with a complex mixture of metal particles with other chemicals. This magnetic coating allows for information to be recorded and retrieved.

Examples of magnetic media include:

  • Audiocassettes and reel-to-reel tapes
  • Videotapes such as VHS, DVcam, Betacam
  • Data-tapes such as LTO tapes
  • Hard disk drives and floppy disks.

Traditionally, analogue magnetic recording tape is used to record, store, and reproduce audio and instrumentation type signals. These signals are usually in a frequency band from very-low frequency (VLF) to 2.5 MHz.

There is also digital magnetic tape which is used to record, store, and reproduce computer programs and data. Its base material thickness is about 50 percent thicker than analog magnetic tape. This allows the digital tape to withstand the more strenuous starts and stops associated with digital magnetic recorder search, read, and write functions. Other types of magnetic media such as hard disk drive store information on the disk’s magnetic material coating.  As magnetic media and their playback equipment become obsolete, it is essential to transfer the information from older formats as soon as possible. Some examples of at risk materials are floppy disks, Betamax tapes, open reel video tapes to name a few.  The following guides provide useful information on how to care for your magnetic media collection and include caring for other audiovisual formats:

Digitising or migrating your magnetic collection for access or preservation

You may decide to digitise or migrate your magnetic media collection due to factors such as lack of playback equipment, fragility of current physical media, and accessibility to content. Before starting, decide if you are digitising/migrating to only gain access to content, or if you would like to make a preservation master from the original items. This would affect the quality of your final digital delivery items.

Digitisation Guides

Refer to the following websites for digitising guides:

Digitisation Vendors

Crystal Mastering
77 Newman Street, Thornbury, Victoria, NSW 3071
Telephone: (03) 9484 8814
Website:  www.crystalmastering.com.au
DAMsmart
32 Essington Street, Mitchell, ACT 2911
PO Box 81, Mitchell, ACT 2911
Telephone: (02) 6242 6456
Website:  www.damsmart.com.au

DVD Infinity
PO Box 102, Artarmon, NSW 1570
Telephone: (02) 9906 6383
Website:  www.dvdinfinity.com.au

FATS Digital
318 Montague Road, West End, QLD 4101
Telephone: (07) 3846 4582
Website:  http://www.fats.com.au

Nano Lab
36 Grant St, Daylesford, Vic 3460
Telephone: 0400 748 864
Website:  www.nanolab.com.au

Note:  State Library of Queensland does not endorse any one supplier.


The procedures described here have been used by State Library of Queensland in the care of its collections and are considered suitable by State Library as described; however, State Library will not be responsible for damage to your collections should damage result from the use of these procedures.

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