While almost none of my DVDR discs are not showing disc fade or serious deterioration yet (so far, I tossed three recorded DVDRs that had playback problems, out of thousands burned), I am having the exact opposite problem with recorded VHS tapes. Part of the reason is that for the most part I used TDK VHS tapes. Playing back these 5 to 15 year old T-120 TDK tapes on my JVC VHS player, I usually have to check to make sure that the tapes do not have tracking problems, dropouts or audio problems. I first record the video on my Panasonic E-80 HDD. Recording a 10 year old tape of a French movie, Adieu Poulet, first running the video through a SIMA SCC color corrector to lower the color level, I was surprised when on playing back the video I saw several instances of just a blue screen, where the video was gone from the tape. I had previously made a DVD-R of the movie without correcting the color, so I used that DVD-R to make a new copy. This VHS tape had gone bad in two years.
Whatever anyone else says about tape longevity, my experience is that most lower quality tapes over five years old, like the TDK HS tapes and the even worse TDK SHG tapes, are on borrowed time. The audio quality of these tapes is mostly bad, but that seems to be because Time Warner Cable sends out a garbage mono signal most of the time, and its old Pioneer cable boxes introduced both video and audio noise when doing a bad job descrambling encoded cable channels. I used to think the noise video in the horizontal side overscan area was from my VCR but it was there because Time Warner rented out Pioneer cable boxes with defective chips in them.
The more you know, videowise, the more you get disappointed with the trash peddled to consumers, from shoddy rebadged VHS tape to defective cable boxes to TV stations that send out a mono signal that is labelled stereo at the start of the broadcast. When TY packages spindles of 8X DVD-Rs that have some coasters in the package, it is now joining a big group of electronic vendors that do not believe that quality control pays off. That group is probably right.
The US government, through the Consumer Products Safety Commission, lets in lead painted kiddie trains from China, then everyone explains the oversight by saying the CPSC is overextended and understaffed. There is always an excuse to do nothing, from repairing New Orleans to looking the other way when US Iraqi troops get defective body armor from Point Blank, owned by Jeb Bush's friend, to not having enough flu vaccine two years running. But, if the right people complain, like those who don't like HDD DVD recorders, the US goverment can find an excuse to get most of those units off the market. The same type of unit you need to make digital copies of your aging VHS tapes.
But back to my original subject. Most people don't keep old VHS tapes, except for stuff like weddings, birthdays and children's growing up videos. But anyone with a lot of old VHS recordings better not assume those tapes will last years more, unchanged, if properly stored. As I stated above, my recording of Adieu Poulet went bad in two years.
FYI, this movie was shown on a city channel about ten years ago with burnt in English subtitles. Even if the movie ever gets released in France on DVD, the French have a practice of not providing new English subtitle tracks to their domestic DVD releases. If I had not found that old DVDR recording, I would be up the creek, not having one of Lino Ventura's fine cop pictures.