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In case of apocalypse, all 21 TB of GitHub code moved to cold storage at an actual Arctic vault

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Jul 16, 2020, 3:04 PM EDT (Updated)

What's cooler than being cool? Ice cold. Yes, the Arctic is no longer just housing massive archives of seeds and treasure troves of dinosaur bones. Thanks to the GitHub Arctic Code Vault - a subsection within the Arctic World Archive, buried deep in the permafrost of a mountain - an entire world of open source software code will be preserved in cold storage for, well, as long as needed. The data storage technology, essentially a specialized film, is meant to last over a thousand years. That's plenty of time for Nicolas Cage to pull off some kind of National Treasure heist.

After an initial deposit last year, focused on 6,000 essential projects (like the source code for the Linux and Android operating systems, Python and Ruby programming languages, and Bitcoin cryptocurrency), the company returned to deposit a copy of every single public repository - basically, if there's a technological apocalypse, GitHub will have code for basically everything sitting in a vault.

According to a release, GitHub partnered with Piql to store this massive amount of data (21TB AKA 21,000 Gigabytes AKA 10,500 copies of Avengers: Endgame) on 186 reels of archival piqlFilm. All that film was then moved to Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway, then taken to the mountain vault on July 8. Here's a look at the vault itself, right out of a Mission: Impossible film:

That vault now holds a record of humanity's open source code (as of Feb. 2, 2020) just in case there's a need to reboot society's computerized presence in the world — or (on a lighter note) for far future coders, hackers, and geeks to look back at how far humankind has come. This deposit represents the work of "37 million users and more than 100 million repositories," now literally chilling in the icy north.

"For both Piql and the Arctic World Archive this is a major project, in size and significance," Rune Bjerkestrand, Managing Director of Piql and co-founder of the Arctic World Archive told SYFY WIRE. "Open source code is a pillar of our society and critically important to the world. It deserves to protected into the distant future. We are proud to support GitHub’s incredible project, and commend them on thinking about the future legacy and the value information can hold. While this has been an interesting time, we are happy to prove that no pandemic will stop us from fulfilling our service to our clients."

The Arctic World Archive also boasts manuscripts from the Vatican library, artwork from Rembrandt and Munch, and the classic 1949 Italian neo-realist film Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thieves).