Norway’s Second Doomsday Vault Opens to Protect World’s Data from the Apocalypse

The Entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault | NordGen/Dag Terje Filip Endresen | Public Domain
The Entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault | NordGen/Dag Terje Filip Endresen | Public Domain
Backing up your data is never a bad idea. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing your documents or images due to circumstances out of your control. Now you can even save your data from a nuclear attack, storing it in a Norwegian doomsday vault 300 meters below ground.

The Arctic World Archive is found near the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, another doomsday vault designed to protect crop samples from global conflicts and natural disasters. The idea behind the data vault is similar, but data will be stored on optical film made by Norwegian company Piql.

The Global Seed Vault is partially funded by charities aiming to preserve crop diversity in case of disaster, but the Arctic World Archive will be run more as a business, and is a joint venture between Piql and SNSK, the state mining company of Norway.

The first customers to use the vault were the governments of Mexico, Norway, and Brazil – who all deposited historical documents. The cost to store data with the company is currently unknown.

The vault is located 300 meters underground in a converted mineshaft in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago. The mine was used by SNSK until it was abandoned in 1995. As the vault is so far underground, it is impervious to nuclear and Electro Magnetic Pulse attacks.

Data stored on the films will last for at least 500 years, and as much as 1,000 years, Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand told The Verge. This is because the freezing and dry conditions in the vault are perfect for preserving the optic film.

Clients are able to send data to the vault either digitally or physically. For security reasons the data is not connected to the internet, which means retrieving the data can take a minimum of 20-30 minutes, while employees access the vault and send it to the client.