An Arctic Vault for the Entire World’s Data?

  • Arctic World Archive as a new adjunct to the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard Norway

The human drive for preservation is built into our DNA. And just as that survival instinct provides an inherent will to protect our corporeal form, it now extends to one of our most abundant commodities: our data. Ever thought about being cryogenically frozen? What about your files?

Svalbard NorwayAs reported by Wired, the Arctic World Archive in Svalbard, Norway — as a new adjunct to the Global Seed Vault in the same location — will allow you to “store key documents, books and other files on photosensitive film held in protective boxes.” Theoretically, this means your time machine of books, files and important documents could be preserved for 1,000 years!

If it wasn’t enough that your data would be protected from natural or man-made disaster, it’s also unalterable. That’s because the medium being used to store the data isn’t the most advanced magnetic hard drives or solid state technology, but instead is a hybrid of the old (photosensitive film) with the new (digitally organized data). Of course, film is among the most classic of the “write once, read many” physical storage formats — it holds less data and is much harder and slower to access, but it’s also less volatile.

The digitized data is visually printed onto the film, and instructions on how to decode it will be included along with the data being stored. According to Piql, the company providing the storage technology, “for disaster recovery, all you need is a light source and some sort of digital camera and computer.”

That means nearly limitless amounts of accurate, archived information can be kept safe for generations to come.

Of course, all of this also depends on whether the Global Seed Vault remains viable. After the vault entrance was flooded due to record-breaking warm temperatures in the Arctic last winter (thanks to the world’s hottest year on record), the Norwegian government is having to maintain the vault in new ways, and to closely monitor the vault to ensure its steady internal temperature stays steady. Presumably, if global warming makes the existing location obsolete, plans will be made to rethink and relocate these crucial resources for the future of humanity!





About the Author:

John Paulsen
John Paulsen is a "Data for Good" advocate, with more than 20 years in the data storage industry. He's helped launch many industry-firsts including HAMR technology, 10K-rpm and 15K-rpm hard drives, drives designed specifically for video and for gaming, Serial ATA drives, fluid dynamic HDD motors, 60TB SSDs, and MACH.2 multi-actuator technology.