Monday, September 08, 2008

The Millennial Disc: A disc that lasts forever?

A company in Utah, named Millenniata, Inc., says they have a disc that can save content forever. "...the Millennial DiscTM [is] a permanent archiving solution for the preservation of data, information and records for institutions, businesses, consumers and families." According to the company:
We have developed a Write Once Read ForeverTM DVD made from materials that are known to be capable of enduring over 1,000 years. Research to this point has produced optically-recorded bits with optical contrast superior to that of today’s DVD-R technology; this optical contrast will not degrade with the passage of time. Our Millennial WriterTM uses a higher energy laser to ablate a dark glassy surface. These Millennial DiscsTM will be readable in all current DVD readers.
Only the disc and the disc writer are new technology. The discs are playable in existing CD and DVD players.

Millenniata's web site shows this graphic of the disc layers:

Looking at the web site, it doesn't seem that the company is doing mass production at this point. It would be interesting to get this technology into an organization that could give it a full testing and then report on the results. Is it the solution? Is it a solution? If not, why not?

By the way, their literature contains this information on media longevity that we all should keep in mind (no matter what media we're using):

  • Magnetic Tape: 30 to 50 years
  • Hard-Drive: 7 to 12 years
  • CD/DVD (recordable): 7 to 23 years
  • Solid state (Flash memory): 10 to 12 years
Of course, most people would dispute the fact that a CD/DVD could last 23 years. Perhaps under truly optimal conditions. I do I really think my flash drive is going to last 10 years? Perhaps if I don't lose it first!

BTW I'm always exciting when a company has a blog and even more exciting when the company really uses its blog. I hope Millenniata will use its blog more to help educate us.

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Wouter Kool said...

The problem is not just with the lifecycle of the media, but of the hardware to read them (even with current lifecycles, this is a problem). Such a solution should go with the obligation that current hardware to read the media will be available forever...

Dan said...

Media longevity is not the same as data longevity. Anyone relying on tapes being read after 30 years might be surprised.

Richard Seiling said...

The problem with tapes is they are usually written with a proprietary software, like a backup program. The data may be there, but I think finding a backwards compatible drive, and software to read it, will be hard in 20-30 years. The CD/DVD form factor can be read with commodity drives that are ubiquitous, and are far more likely to be around in 30-50 years. It's not a perfect solution, but the Millennial disk looks like the best we have for now in terms of media longevity.

Anonymous said...

I think the commenters have it backward. If Millenniata can produce a disk that lasts "forever" then companies, libraries, etc. will make sure to have something to read it, especially since there is NO other long term data storage option available.

As a note, Millenniata has started mass production and is selling product ( The product has been independently tested by a testing company in Utah and by the US Department of Defense through their China Lake military testing facility. The reports all uphold what Millenniata is claiming and will be released soon.