It's fun to play retro games that were popular when gaming was still a young industry. Unlike modern data storage technology, however, video game cartridges can degrade and become unusable if they're not stored properly. Whether you're putting your collection in a storage unit because you don't have room at home or you're in the process of moving, here are two tips for safely storing video game cartridges long-term.

Put in Individual Plastic Boxes

The biggest enemies of video game cartridges are dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures. That's because these cartridges are open ended, allowing particulates and other environmental elements access to unprotected electronic components. Before you place your games in storage, it's essential that you clean them to remove existing dirt and put them in moisture-resistant plastic cases.

You may be tempted to leave the cartridges in their original cardboard boxes. However, this is not an ideal solution for a couple of reasons. The cardboard won't protect the cartridges from water, crushing, or impact damage. Second, some bugs are attracted to and feed on cardboard, which can lead them to damage your games.

The only time storing the cartridges in their cardboard boxes is acceptable is if you'll be putting them in a larger plastic bin. If you'll be packing them in a cardboard or wood box, put the cartridges into individual plastic cases.

Opt for a Temperature-Regulated Unit

Extreme temperatures can also damage cartridges. If you live somewhere that gets extraordinarily hot or cold, it's a good idea to get a temperature-controlled storage unit. The storage facility maintains these units at a steady temperature, usually between 55 and 85 degrees, to ensure stored items aren't affected by intense hot or cold weather.

The other benefit to using a temperature-controlled unit is to avoid wild swings in temperature and humidity. Dramatic temperature changes and excess humidity can cause moisture to condense inside plastic bins, which can ruin your games if you left the cartridges in their cardboard boxes rather than moisture-resistant plastic ones.

As a bonus tip, you should use a moving and packing app that lets you create a list of items stored in the boxes and print out barcodes with that information on it. This will make it easier to find specific games later on, as all you'll need to do is scan the barcode to see what the bin contains. This is a good option for large game collections.

For more information about storing game cartridges long-term or to rent a storage unit, contact a facility such as Route 37 Self-Storage.