Fire at Internet Archive reaffirms need for an Internet archive

The archive stores a plethora of electronic history including 85B web page images

The document scanning operations of a massive public online digital archive based in San Francisco suffered $600,000 in fire damage Wednesday night.

The Internet Archive said no one was hurt in the fire that broke out about 3:30 a.m. and caused damage to an electrical conduit and some "physical materials." The cause of the fire is under investigation. The archive has a second facility in Richmond, Calif.

The fire at the Internet Archive's San Francisco scanning facilities. (Photo: Internet Archive)

"Most [of the physical materials] were in a separate locked room or in our physical archive and were not lost. Of those materials we did unfortunately lose, about half had already been digitized," the Internet Archive wrote on its blog site. "We are working with our library partners now to assess."

The Internet Archive is an nonprofit project that has already digitized and stored hundreds of thousands of Internet images, video, audio and web pages for posterity. It has even archived 3,000 hours of television coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

One of the more popular archives with the organization is the Wayback Machine, a digital time capsule that stores more than 85 billion archived versions of Web pages dating back to 1996.

The Internet Archive has been taking a snapshot of the World Wide Web every two months since 1997.

The Internet Archive has requested donations to rebuild its facility as well as digitization services to help it continue its work.

This article, Internet Archive suffers fire, reaffirming need for an Internet archive, was originally published at

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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