Where would you Store 491 Billion Web Pages

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If you’re thinking that collections of digitised materials such as websites, software applications, music, movies and books are stored in some mystical cloud; we suggest you read further.

A San Francisco-based organisation called The Internet Archive was founded 20 years ago and have a non profit digital library which has been collecting this data. They’re also an activist organisation advocating for free global access to the internet.

Apart from having digitised nearly 3 million public-domain books, they’re also responsible for preserving as much of the public web as possible. Their web archive, known as the Wayback Machine has stored 491 billion web pages to date and this figure is continually increasing as we speak.

So where do they store all this web archived data? Inside a Shipping Container!

The Wayback Machine is stored in a 20 ft long metal cargo container, and apart from the actual shipping container, the only other things which are needed are the network connections, a chilled water supply and electricity, according to Brewster Kahle. (digital librarian and co-founder of the Internet Archive)

In 2009 the Internet Archive decided to move from its own custom hardware and storage system to an optimised Sun Modular Datacentre (Sun MD) platform, which is also known as a ‘data centre in a shipping container’.

In addition to the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive also stores the physical copies of books that they’ve scanned, ten of thousands of reels of film, LP records, VHS tapes, and other types of physical media into shipping containers. Modified 40ft shipping containers are being used as they are secure and each individual container’s temperature can be controlled, thus reducing the humidity.

As shipping containers are robust and can withstand the harshest of weather conditions, using these metal boxes (which are made out of corten steel) makes perfect sense.

We hope that you can now feel at ease, knowing that archived versions of your website's history is being safely being stored in a container.

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