As far as I remember from the Dresden files, the Archive is an immortal being that needs a human host. It knows everything that was written down. Ever. And as far as I know this includes digital information.

So I have some questions regarding this ability:


  1. Does it apply to digital information like chats, human-written email?
  2. Does it apply to written information that was not created by humans?
  3. Does it apply to information that was only indirectly written by humans like YouTube videos or data from scientific experiments (e.g. LHC data)?
  4. What about randomly generated codes? If you had a security system that generated random passcodes (automatically, though the system was designed by a human) which only get read when they are needed, would the Archive know them? At which point would it know them?
  5. Does it apply to information that is not written on earth (but e.g. ISS)
  6. Does it apply to images (like constructions plans), too?

Computing capacity

If I understand it correct, the Archive can access all that information whenever it needs it. However, I don't know how this "access" works. Is it like the genius loci? Does the archive, when it thinks about a certain field, directly "understand" it? (as far as any human ever did)

In new science, there are often different thoughts and uncertainty what might be correct. Would the archive know any more than what leading researchers would know about the topic of their research?

There are many tasks that are in principle solvable by humans, but probably were not written down by anybody. Multiplication is a simple example. Can the archive multiply "arbitrary" numbers instantly? (that is related to the "range" questions: Probably computers which were designed by humans and operated by humans did already do those computations).

edit: I think I have to clarify why I've asked.

I think the Archive might be the most powerful programmer that ever has been there and will ever be.

If it knows every program and every architecture ever invented and if it can draw conclusions instantly, it will be able to find any bug. Even if no human ever knew about this bug before. That would be impressive.

  • By my count, there are nine different questions here. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 14:54
  • @Donald.McLean: Should I split them to 9 questions (or 8, as I have only seen 8 questions)? I think they are very much related. The one question is basically: "How powerful is the Archive?". I think a good answer will answer those 9 sub-questions. That is the reason why I would rather not split it. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 14:59
  • If knowledge = power, then the answer is "very". In that sense, the Archive is the most powerful human(ish) being on the planet. I don't think most of your sub-questions have answers, though.
    – Brian S
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


The Archive isn't a supercomputer, it's a magic library. The only sort of intellectus you could argue that Ivy has is within the realm of existing written record.

What is the Archive? As noted in the answer to my question:

Does the existence of the Archive make the Oblivion War unwinnable? [Mild Spoilers]

the Archive exists to...

...keep track of any written record of gods that could be used to keep them connected to the mortal world. This lets the Venatori know if they've successfully cut a god off.

Further, the series has commented (in Harry's internal monologue I believe) that the Archive's power has surged since the invention of the internet, meaning that information that's listed there is in fact recorded by the Archive.

If Ivy is capable of using a computer - given that she's a capable wizard by virtue of being the Archive - she would be the best-read programmer in existence. She would certainly know any piece of text ever written by a human, including all messages and source code, and quite likely also know any piece of state of a computer. However, she would be no better at applying that knowledge to novel problems, nor could she know unknowable things. Frankly, Bob would be a much better sort of tool for a would-be programming rockstar.

  • the Archive's power has surged since the invention of the internet, meaning that information that's listed there is in fact recorded by the Archive --- I'm not sure if that conclusion is correct. In 1987 we had 5 billion people on earth. In 1999, it were 6 billion. Today, we are about 7.2 billion people on earth. That certainly increases the amount of handwritten information a lot. So although the sentence was likely meant as you say it, it is a logical falacity to assume that just because 2 things appear at the same time, that one causes the other: Correlation does not imply causation Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 19:04
  • 2
    It was explicitly tied to the explosion of information in the text. Plus, that would only be a 20% increase in power, while the text implies a many-fold increase. I see what you were objecting to, but that's not what I meant nor what the book says.
    – rsegal
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 19:10
  • 1
    Ok. Thanks for the clarification (+1) Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 19:14
  • Sure thing! If any of the answers is satisfactory, don't forget to accept it.
    – rsegal
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 19:19

The Archives abilities havent been explained in detail however what has been revealed leads me to surmise that at the very least anything written by a Human is within the Archive

Internet writing is still writing so I believe yes the Archive has every chat log in history within it (which is a freaking disturbing thought when you think about it)

If a Sidhe writes a book then the Archive would not have the knowledge within the book however if a Human copies the book that knowledge is added to the Archive.

No data on the Archive being able to access video however if theres a script then it will have that

No data on if the Archive can obtain purely digital information that a Human did not actually have a hand in creating however if the source code is know to the Archive and previous pass codes are stored in some way then a model of the future could conceivably predict the next code generated

The ISS and Alpha Centauri for that matter would be fair game for the Archive as long as a Human wrote it down

If the plans to a building were drawn by a Human the Archive would most likely have access computer assisted design however would go with the digital information answer above

The Archive knows everything that is written down at all times the host has to learn to limit the flow of information or go a little mad as Luccio explained to Harry in Cold Days so its not like a Genius Loci

The Archive would not know more than the leading researchers however with the sum of knowledge it would have in whatever field its host would be able to make guesses that the leading researchers may not think of however the host could be wrong

The Archive cant do anything the host most likely could multiple any numbers you wanted her to for the simple fact she has the Archive and the Archive contains the entire history of Mathematics

The host may in fact be able to be the best programmer in the world but that is not what the Archive was designed for and its highly unlikely the host would choose to use her time on something that mundane theres no real data on what the host actually does aside from being a very powerful neutral party in the accords but as Luccio stated in Cold Days historically the host has been an oracle predicting future events using the past as a model presumably to help stave off the destruction of mankind

  • Programming / hacking might be a much better possibility to help stave off the destruction of mankind. Just think about nuclear weapons. With knowledge of all bugs in any system and every possible way to use those bugs it could quite likely prevent the production of nuclear weapons (source) and eventually prevent a nuclear apocalypse. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 17:00
  • your point is acknowledged however if the host attempted to do so a nuclear apocalypse may not happen but a pretty huge war would happen every country would accuse the other of the hacking even if all nuclear warheads were disabled conventional military forces would reign havoc all over the world unless the host disabled all military hardware which I imagine would be impossible in any case though you have an I, Robot situation the host saving humans by destroying Humanity
    – revenant
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 17:16
  • Judging the overall knowledge the Archive has, it should also be possible for it to prevent such actions in the first place. It can spread arbitrary miss-information to important people. So instead of hacking the nuclear power plants, it might rather give the information of a cheating general to the media, if the one that would most likely replace him had a "better" psychological profile (reference). So by targeted miss-information / reveling tiny bits of information it could still have a huge impact. I wonder if there is fan fiction about it. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 17:27
  • @revenant Can you explain why you think the Archive wouldn't have info on Sidhe wiriting?
    – Shisa
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 2:14
  • @Shisa I could be wrong of course but the way I understand it is the Archive is supposed to be a failsafe for humanity most likely made by humans somehow and as such I dont believe they would have had the ability to give it the ability to delve into the knowledge of the Sidhe.
    – revenant
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 23:38

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