GE plans to target the commercial archiving sector first, including medical and financial institutions that keep records around for decades. Today, most archival data is kept on old-school magnetic tape, like that found in the cassettes that fill bins at used record stores. Magnetic tape has a lifetime of only about 20 years, says Lawrence. "Companies nowadays have to have a 'refresh' strategy -- before the 20 years is up, they have to copy their data to another medium," he says. CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs similarly break down in about a decade, as their metal data-storing layer corrodes, making them unreadable. Comparatively, Lawrence expects the new holo-discs to safely store info for 50 to 100 years, in part because plastic does not degrade much (just ask environmentalists).