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Music could be archived for “10,000” years on new hard drive made from glass

The new project, a collaboration between Microsoft and Global Music Vault, could be the solution to storing data for future generations to access

  • 15 June 2022
Music could be archived for “10,000” years on new hard drive made from glass

Global Music Vault and Microsoft have announced a collaborative effort to trial long-term archival storage of music, using a device made from glass.

The two organisations have made a "hard drive style" device with the capability to store digital data for 10,000 years.

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The collaborative project, dubbed Project Silica, is a device somewhat resemblant to a glass hard drive, but it is read like a CD.

The 3-by-3-inch glass square (pictured above) can hold up to 100GB of digital data — which equates to roughly 20,000 songs - essentially forever.

The data can be encrypted or unencrypted, and the data is read from the device through machine learning algorithms which decode images and patterns that are created by shining a light through the glass.

The silica glass platter is resistant to electromagnetic pulses (EMP) and is therefore also resistant to various weather conditions.

This means that the silica can be boiled, baked, tampered and irritated — but the data stored within the glass remains the same and it can be retrieved.

The project was designed because as demand grows for long-term cloud storage options, scientists and technology professionals are keen to explore options which have longevity.

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Project Silica is part of the broader Optics for the Cloud project which explores the intersection between optics and computer science, and how new methods and styles of infrastructure will influence this.

During the development of this device, scientists successfully managed to store and retrieve the 1978 classic movie 'Superman'.

Now, Microsoft, alongside Elire Group and Global Music Vault, will be using this technology for the expanding music industry.

Luke Jenkinson of Global Music Vault says: “With over 4 million music producers globally, and over 60,000 songs being released just on Spotify every day, today’s digital and physical data storage solutions are quickly becoming outdated, irrelevant and a risk to our future.

"We not only want to put this high on the global music industry agenda, we want to work with the best companies in the world to find solutions. As we want to offer the global music ecosystem an eternal solution, we believe that Microsoft’s Silica is that exact solution for our storage needs.”

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To find out more about the project, visit Global Music Vault's website here, or Microsoft's website here.

Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter
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