What is the GitHub Arctic Code Vault

Github stores software code in eternal ice on Svalbard (update)

Hans-Christian Dirscherl

A disused coal mine is located quite close to the North Pole. Github wants to store the open source code in it for at least 1000 years. Update: The deadline for the snapshot has passed.

EnlargeGithub stores software code in eternal ice on Svalbard.
© GitHub Arctic Code Vault

Update: February 2, 2020 was the deadline for backing up the open source software for the Github Arctic Code Vault project. On this day, Github backed up all active public Github repositories with a snapshot so that they can be stored in the archive - the Arctic Code Vault - in a disused coal mine on Svalbard 250 meters deep in permafrost for the next few centuries. Update end

Github, a well-known online storage / filehoster for software projects, wants to preserve the source code of open source programs in the long term. Github is working with various partners on this Github Archive Program. This is intended to preserve open source software for future generations and later historians.

For this purpose, Github has rented storage space in a disused coal mine, the so-called Grube 3, in the Norwegian town of Spitzbergen (Svalbard). The former coal mine is located in the permafrost area and comparatively close to the North Pole.

Github wants to start long-term archiving of the source code of the open source software managed on Github (i.e. the entire code that is in an active public repository) on February 2, 2020. Github has the code saved on polyester films coated with silver halides, as Spiegel Online writes. The code secured in this way, which incidentally also includes the Linux and Android operating systems, should be able to survive on these films for at least 1000 years. The films are deposited in a steel-jacketed container. The container, in turn, stands in a sealed chamber 250 meters below the surface of the earth.

Github is not the first customer to use Norwegian long-term storage deep in the permafrost. In "Grube 3" there are already documents from the Vatican, Italian films and the recipe for the sauce of a burger chain, as Bloomberg writes. Bloomberg also publishes some photos showing the coal mine and its container.

Microsoft took over Github in June 2018.

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