Tips for Preserving Archival Photos, Audio, Video, Film, and X-Rays

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Reel of Film

While most businesses rely on paper-based or digital recordkeeping processes, “records” themselves, in addition to existing on paper and electronic media, can also consist of the information residing on other media, such as videos, photographs, and microforms. In the private sector, brand-related and proprietary information may be contained in film and photographs belonging to a company. Similarly, non-profit organizations may have a collection of archival material integral to the foundation’s central purpose. Therefore, non-paper records require their own long-term preservation and care.

Audio, video and film

It’s not only entertainment companies that rely on audio, video and film. In addition to their possible historical value to an organization, video and audio files can also be used as evidence in court cases and for supporting legal processes. While paper is a relatively hardy medium, film and video can deteriorate at a relatively rapid rate due to an unstable storage environment.
Just like other magnetic media, audio and videotapes eventually lose their magnetic charge, and this process can be dramatically accelerated by electromagnetic interference (EMI) from seemingly innocuous outside sources, such as appliances and computer equipment. Film, while not vulnerable to EMI, is vulnerable to degradation when exposed to even the smallest fluctuations in temperature and humidity. But film and video are both susceptible to the following conditions:

  • dust and dirt contamination
  • excessive moisture
  • repeated handling

When stored within a climate-controlled, EMI-shielded media vault environment, these risks are greatly diminished and audio, video and film records can be professionally preserved and managed over the long term.


Whether the goal is to preserve personal memories or corporate history, the lifespan of a physical photograph is also dependent on the how it is stored. Heat can make photos brown and brittle, while high humidity can change their hue. Mold growth is common when photographs are stored in basements, and dust in these areas can also lead to surface scratches. Ideally, photographs should be stored in acid and lignin-free envelopes in a dry environment with a constant temperature.


X-rays serve as a visual diagnostic tool for medical practitioners and often remain in a patient’s permanent medical record. Therefore, a storage solution should facilitate optimal lifespan preservation. X-rays, like film and video records, are also susceptible to excessive heat and moisture as well as the following:

  • fungal growth
  • sulfur dioxide contamination
  • nitrous oxide contamination

In addition to being archived in a secure, environmentally-controlled facility, X-rays should also be stored in cartons specifically designed for shelf storage.

Docu-Dépôt provides audio, video, film and X-ray storage solutions to businesses throughout Montréal and Québec. To find out more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.

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