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5 things that made VHS tapes a real pain

These annoyances are the reason many continue to be thankful that time is firmly in the past.

vhs tape

The VHS era revolutionized how people consumed film while giving many the means of recording their own amateur videos of important life moments. No longer did one have to go to a cinema to see the latest blockbuster. They could rent or buy the tape to watch as and when they pleased.

But VHS tapes have now faded into obsolescence giving way to CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and, more recently, streaming services. There’s a good reason for that and why you should subject your stack of tapes to VHS to DVD Melbourne conversion services. Here’s a look at the things that made the VHS era a pain.

Recording Timer Gone Rogue

Years before streaming services brought content-on-demand to the mainstream, people had to master the art of capturing runs of their favorite TV programs onto videotape. Those who could successfully record an entire season of a hit show while cutting out all those annoying ads were considered heroes of sorts.

Most VCR players came with a timer that you could adjust to capture films and shows that ran while you were asleep or away from home. Unfortunately, the timer didn’t always work as required. Worse still, the film could be longer or shorter than the set time. Whenever any of these mishaps happened, it was deep disappointment all round when you eventually sat down to watch the tape later.

Chewed Tapes

Every once in a while, a VHS film would be interrupted by a crunching sound during play, rewinding or forwarding. That was the sign your tape was being chewed by the VCR. This would be the result of one of the cassette’s spools rotating slower than its counterpart. It would lead to a build-up of tape that would then be chewed into a chaotic mess.

Users would frantically stop the cassette, extract the trapped tape and attempt to salvage it by physically winding the cassette until it was taut again. Unfortunately, a chewed tape rarely retained the original quality of the recording. Distorted images and sounds were the norm.

Ignoring the Rules of Rewinding

It was good practice for the owner or user of a VHS tape to rewind the cassette after the end of the film, so it was ready to view for the next person who wanted to see it. Not everyone adhered to this basic rule of etiquette.

Whether you were borrowing a tape from a friend or doing so from the local movie store, running into a film that hadn’t been rewound was an annoying anticlimax. It didn’t help that it was during rewinding that your tape was in danger of chewing. With the proliferation of DVDs and streaming services, it’s difficult for today’s young adults to relate to such inconvenience.


Nowadays, watching a movie or series is incredibly easy. Whether on DVD, Blu-ray, micro-SD, thumb drive or online streaming, you simply click on what you want and it runs effortlessly. Such versatility that’s inherent to digital content wasn’t something users enjoyed in the age of the VHS.

Your VCR player demanded elaborate calibration before you could properly view anything. In particular, VCRs had a tracking function that had to be adjusted well. Tracking involved aligning the video’s speed with the player’s scan speed. Older VHS tapes would need some tracking changes to eliminate the fuzzy white lines that would otherwise form on the screen.

Accidental Overwrite

To be fair, this is something that could happen to a CD or DVD. Nevertheless, the nature of the VCR made this a much higher possibility for VHS tapes.

A family member or friend could pick an unlabeled cassette they’d see sitting around and proceed to unknowingly tape over a precious recording. You could prevent writing on a tape by turning on the read-only toggle on the cassette. But this was easy to remove and wouldn’t prevent someone determined to overwrite a tape from doing so.

The age of the VHS was certainly a turning point in home entertainment. Nevertheless, these annoyances are the reason many continue to be thankful that time is firmly in the past.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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