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Posted on 27 June, 2016 in BLOG

Facebook’s optical media cold storage systems will be launched on the mass-market

Long-term optical media archival solutions significantly cut costs according to Facebook.

Recently Facebook revealed to the media that it was transferring enormous volumes of its content archives to more cost-efficient storage: new archival solution architecture, based on optical media. Later on, after successful implementation of the technology, some of the biggest optical media industry players announced that the technology would be marketed for other businesses and new optical storage devices are being developed to carry even bigger volumes of data.

Old, but still widely used data storage device - magnetic tape.
Old, but still widely used data storage device – magnetic tape.


The technology was called “Freeze-Ray” due to the specifics of its use: data is preserved in a type of storage known as “cold storage” for long periods of time and rarely accessed.

Typically, users of social networks tend to view photos that are recently uploaded: a week or two old images are accessed very often, so Facebook stores them on spinning HDD’s. At some point in time, when the pictures are no longer accessed frequently, they are relocated on high-capacity optical discs, where they are stored for years without being accessed.

The optical media industry experienced steady decline during the last decade as streaming services such as Netflix took over, but now, with the interest from Facebook and other giants, it is back to life as one of the keys to cost-cutting. Facebook says that optical media storage saves them 50% of the budget for storage solutions and is 80% more energy efficient.

Data storage facility based on HDDs
Data storage facility based on HDDs


The first version of Facebook’s storage system was based on a 100GB disk. Later this year it is planned to shift to 300GB discs and some companies from the industry are already working on 500GB and 1TB versions. Single system may accommodate hundreds and even thousands of discs, providing petabytes of archival storage.

Optical media production process
Optical media production process


In addition to being useful to business enterprises, archival storage may also be considered by individual households. Digital media nowadays is so universal, that it captures many personal family memories and stories: home videos, pictures, family portraits – over the course of time this content requires more and more storage capacity. Optical media storage is a reliable way of storing these memories: it does not consume electricity and it is more resistant to external threats.

Would you consider storing your personal archives on optical media? Could it be the next page data archiving history?