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Is My Tape Blank?

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By Christian Roemer

Sometimes, the simplest things going wrong can be the most frustrating. One example is when you look into digitization services, you pack up all of your tapes, send them in, and uh oh, one or more of your tapes are blank. If you’re wondering how we know how annoying this particular scenario is, we’ll just say that we have some...experience with it.


Nobody likes to be mad, and we like to be helpful, so we’re going to give you an all-important question that you should ask yourself while you’re packing up memories into your Legacybox box: is my tape blank?

There are a few ways that you can check, and we can’t reiterate this enough, you should definitely check.

Where’s the Film?

A little cheat code that you can use when trying to figure out whether a tape is blank or not is to look at the film inside of the cassette. When a tape is new or fully rewound, all of the tape will be on the left side. When you play a tape, the film moves from the left side to the right side, which means that if there’s film on the right side, it probably has stuff on it. If you’re one of the good people who is always kind and rewinds, this trick won’t work, but if you’re like basically every other person in the world, there’s a decent chance that this tip might save you some time.


Is it still unwrapped?

If your tape is still in its original cellophane wrapping with a perfectly crisp cardboard sleeve, there’s a 100% chance that it’s empty. I can say that with confidence because the only way you could buy blank tapes was if they were blank. If you never opened it, it would remain blank. If it’s wrapped, keep it back.

Play it in the VCR!

If those first two time savers aren’t working, you might have to put your tape in the VCR. First, you’ll have to figure out if you even own a VCR. Then, you’ll have to figure out whether your VCR can even hook up to your smart TV. Lastly, you’ll need to pop the tapes into the machine and see what’s up. The good news is that, typically, footage will start right away, so you won’t have to fast-forward or spend a long time watching a bunch of static.


That’s about it. If you’d like to try to save a little bit of time, the first two tips should be exactly what you’re looking for. If your deductive reasoning isn’t quite working because steps 1 and 2 are inconclusive, you’ll have to use a little bit of elbow grease to see what’s going on. The important thing is that you remember to check your tapes before you send them to us at Legacybox.


We aim to please, and getting a notification from us that says your tape was blank is a recipe for disappointment. We don’t want that! We want you to be happy, so check your tapes!

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