I want to write a story where the protagonists hunt down Apocalypse Repertory Caches, A.R.C.s. I had intended that A.R.C.s would be full to the brim with information: farming, medicine, civics, anything needed to give humanity a fighting chance to restart civilization.

My main question is: what would be the optimal way (least amount of degradation) of storing this information for a minimum of 1000 years?

  • $\begingroup$ Portable or non portable? $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Oct 15, 2018 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ Cloud based storage perhaps? $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Oct 15, 2018 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ Non portable. Imagine a 3 story building, but underground. $\endgroup$
    – MnIce
    Oct 15, 2018 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ @MnIce AFAIK, there is no "Physical" storage capable of storing that much of information. We have the Egyptian hieroglyphics, but these writings are most of the time limited to a summary of a person's life. Now imagine the information you require, I highly doubt that 3 story building worth of writing is enough to store the kind of information that you have indicated. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Oct 15, 2018 at 6:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "full to the brim with information: farming, medicine, civics, anything" "3 story building" You mean something like a typical, large library? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 15, 2018 at 7:03

1 Answer 1


The joy of your short time request is that it's entirely possible to use conventional storage methods. In this case rather than having to carve it into granite or similar as per the Rosetta Stone, we can actually write it long form on parchment.

While occasional documents dating back to the 6thC show up in good condition, far older documents have been found in admittedly not great condition but also without any apparent attempt at preservation. In more modern usage, the British Parliamentary archive has vast quantities of scrolls dating back up to 500 years.

All sorts of grand ideas about electronic storage are likely to be considered, but given that most people can't read removable media from only 15 years ago, the chances of anything electronic being readable in a thousand years are pretty much nil. So whether you choose to carve it on granite slabs 3m high or write on parchment scrolls 10m long, you need to write it out longhand.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Given that the storage must be full of information, as in everything as stated by the question, I figured out that the Rosetta stone is not plausible because it is "limited" with the amount of information that can be written in it. If every information on the known planet would be written in a stone, it might be as big as the Himalayas, maybe as big as Olympus Mons of Mars, or as deep as the Mariana trench. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Oct 15, 2018 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.J, there's a tradeoff between how long you want the data to last and how much you want to store. Electronic is higher density, granite is longer lasting. Paper lasts a century or two, parchment covers the 1-2 thousand year mark. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 15, 2018 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ You might want to read about the Memory Of Mankind project, where they want to do exactly what MnIce asks for. There might be more of these projects. And in the novel Footfall they use technology guides written on stones to build space ships. $\endgroup$
    – Henning M.
    Oct 15, 2018 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the spaceship building mentioned by @HenningM., you might want to see Were the Saturn V construction plans destroyed? and Do we still have all the blueprints to go to the Moon? and Why not build Saturn V's again?, all over on our sister site Space Exploration. Also make sure to check out each question's "linked" questions sidebar. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 15, 2018 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.J I was referring more to the points about potentially needing to store more than just engineering documentation in order to actually build something from scratch. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 16, 2018 at 6:34

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