A California non-profit has taken a different approach to online data storage by guaranteeing your memories will be stored forever, claiming to be “the first trustworthy digital repository” for personal data. Chronicles of Life ensures your data will live on by permanently preserving all forms of data – anything from photos to videos, music and documents. Even blogs posts, instant message conversations and social media status updates can be stored. But at a dollar per megabyte (about the size of typical digital photo), that flexibility comes at a hefty price. Though rather than tout itself as another online backup company, Chronicles of Life wants to be a permanent digital time capsule for your most important memories and keepsakes.
Chronicles of Life was founded by a team of researchers from the University of California and sees its status as a non-profit to be an asset. The company is required to commit all the money it raises towards fulfilling its promised mission of preserving data permanently. Three quarters of all payments made by users must go into an endowment with low-risk investments like government bonds, thus allowing the company to be self-sustaining over a long period of time which lends itself perfectly to a company that intends to exist forever. The company will only need 1,250 users to be financially viable.
With storage costs decreasing and data volumes increasing exponentially, the need for long-term preservation of digital data has also grown. Governments, universities and corporate entities have invested billions into data preservation technology. The problem stems from the fact that traditional physical media has a finite lifespan. Hard drive platters eventually stop spinning; DVD’s and CD’s eventually lose their coating. The problem has kept archivists awake a night and led to proliferation of online backup companies prepared to meet that demand, all offering protection for data at an affordable cost. The problem of long-term data storage and retention has led to the birth of entirely new industries. One of the new buzz words of the late 2000’s and what new internet-based companies such as Chronicles of Life are based on is cloud-computing, which is essentially the technology that allows data to be decentralized from a single location and spread over multiple redundant locations. If one server fails, there’s another somewhere else that still has a copy of your data.
Chronicles of Life performs daily, weekly and monthly backups of all your data on severs dispersed throughout the United States and Ireland. In the future, if video and picture formats become obsolete, the company offers a conversion to a new supported data format. Online backup services are not new of course, and one can definitely find cheaper alternatives. But the service is not geared towards all-purpose backup or storage – it is aimed more towards preservation of one most important files. In exchange for the one time payment, a subscriber receives piece of mind that their most cherished memories will outlast their own life and enrich the lives of future generations.