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Pencil Banner will save permanent copies of photos, videos posted on social media

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 26, 2016
The service will either send discs to users or store them with Iron Mountain

A new service is planning to store permanent copies of photos and videos posted to social media sites on archive-grade optical discs that they claim will last 1,000 years.

For an $8 monthly charge or an annual fee of $89, will automate the secure archive of up to one terabyte (1TB) of data stored on Instagram, Flickr, Google Photos, Smugmug, Dropbox, Facebook and Google Drive. The data is burned to MDISC DVDs or Blu-ray discs, which are made of a "glassy carbon" material that's substantially resilient to oxidation and has a melting point of between 200 and 1000 degrees Celsius.

Writable CDs and DVDs have a layer of organic material on them that can deteriorate, which limits their lifetime to a period of about three to seven years, according to CEO Paul Brockbank., formerly Millenniata Inc., released the MDISC technology in 2009 and has re-licensed it to several companies, including Imation, Ritek and Verbatim.

While cloud services offer data backups, those backups exist on either hard drives or magnetic tape, which have vastly shorter lifespans than optical disc technology. Brockbank said his company's service is distinct in that it's offering a data archive, not a backup.

"The cloud is an amazing solution, but really it's designed for convenience and data access," Brockbank said. "All cloud providers declare that your data can be viewed as a backup, but their intention is not to be archived per se. It's about sharing the data. We're trying to solve the problem of archiving data and enable customers to have it in their possession."

As part of the subscription, which is expected to launch Nov. 1, a user can choose to either to have discs sent directly to a home address or a secure storage vault that's maintained by Iron Mountain.

The vault also offers automated stack-and-retrieve storage of discs, so when a user needs to access files, simply retrieves the disc and sends it in the mail for a fee. For an additional $60 per year ($5 per month), customers can have a copy sent both to a home address and the vault.

The company also requires an initial $25 set up fee for the service.

"We'll grab it for you every month and you're done. Let us store if for you or send it to you for you to put it into a [40-disc] binder that you can put on a shelf," Brockbank said. "That initial write could be 10GB or 20GB or 50GB. We'll put on the highest capacity MDISCs needed, so the customer receives the least number of discs required."


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