The ability to record audio is about 150 years old and so far, the best format for long-term storage of music hasn’t changed much. Freezing music in the grooves of a plastic rotating disc will preserve that music for far longer than anything else invented.
Magnetic tape dries out and degrades. CDs are susceptible to mold and rot. Digital files can get scrambled and file formats fall out of favour. Polyvinyl chloride, which takes hundreds of years to break down, is still the superior choice. Until now. Maybe.
The Global Music Vault is just that: a project in Norway designed to collect and preserve the world’s music in a secure place so it can live for centuries. But when you’re archiving music this way, what format is best?
Microsoft has entered into a partnership to look at storing music “eternally” on glass. It’s a project called Project Silica, the “first-ever storage technology designed and built from the media up, specifically for the cloud.” Microsoft says that Silica has a “data lifetime of thousands of years.” It should be able to withstand being baked with high heat, exposed to extreme cold, irradiation, flooding, and any other disaster.
Details on how the Silica is encoded and played back is unclear, but Microsoft says it works.
More details here.