"so we're good with our backups for this Mayan thing, right?"

Written by Phil DuMas on Thursday, 20 December 2012.

How to Make Sure Your Data Survives An Apocalypse

Comets, Y2K, Yosemite eruptions, Mayan prophecies, Zombie apocalypse, magnetic shifting poles and the rise of the Zierlings are all threats to your data. So how does one make sure that their data will survive into the next millennium if the world as we know it comes to an end?

This was the question between a friend and I after his CEO walked into his office on Monday and asked "so we're good with our backups for this Mayan thing, right?" After our giggling fit passed it kind of struck us as a great exercise to determine exactly how one would safeguard data for, say, 1,000 years?

So we started with the first questions that all disaster recovery (DR) plans start with and that is "what data will we save" and "how much down time can we afford"? So the "downtime" question seems a bit redundant since 1,000 years and the cessation of civilization gives new meaning to "the network is down" the "what data" question still begs to be answered. We immediately threw out accounting, shipping, receiving and marketing. Chances are we will be paid in shiny rocks, ship things on rafts and most marketing will be done via cave murals or large rocks. Intellectual Property is pretty much a toss too since there will be no one around to enforce it. Research and Development might make it, but without the proper tools they will just be a drag on our new economy until we spin up the "new" company.

So that leaves us with the technology department and the list of the board of directors and a mission statement. There only needs to be one tech person around in that thousand years to restore the data to....something...or be able to decipher it so we drew straws to see who's offspring would be trained to do just that.

Next we decided that the data would need to be etched on a crystalline structure to keep it from degrading and be susceptible to fire, flood, magnetic fluctuation and the like and has a shelf life of about a million years (should be adequate). But what if a meteor impacted the earth? The crystalline structure would be shattered and that wouldn't do so...now what? Ah! Orbit! That's right, we can launch our data into outer space BEFORE the cataclysm occurs! We decided (unanimously) that the orbit would have to be a parabola, or long ellipses, that would go out for 500 years, loop around and return (the formula we figured out was β = tan-1[z/√(x²+y²)], give or take). We figured that our etched crystalline structure would weigh about 12 ounces, settled on a re-purposed shuttle booster engine as a launch vehicle and added a pair of nuclear powered pulse engines (mainly because they are AWESOME) and then chose the launch package to get us into space and we were in business!

I can't wait to hear how his request for the $124 million goes over when his boss sees the purchase request.

Now, I have to go and start training my son on how to read hexadecimal so he can pass it to his son and his son and his son just so they can decipher the message "There's no place like"

About the Author

Phil DuMas

Phil DuMas

Phil DuMas is a technologist with more than 20 years experience developing and implementing technology in a myriad of environments.

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