DNA Data Storage Could Last for an Eternity

By: | January 15th, 2016

Image courtesy Flickr

The digital world is expanding all the time, and so is the need to store data. But the sad part is that storage devices don’t last forever.

So, scientists have been looking at ways to preserve data that could last for millions of years.

Researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland believe that the answer lies in DNA data storage. They have come up with a method to store exabytes (one exabyte is equivalent to a billion gigabytes) of data into a small test tube that can be preserved forever.

How can DNA be the future of data storage?

Researchers were inspired by ancient fossils where DNA of the preserved animal is extremely stable, and the genetic information survives millions of years. Earlier, research had also proved that you could translate a megabyte (MB) of information into DNA that could later be retrieved. But the research did not look at the stability of the information over time.

But now, the Swiss researchers have come up with a method to pack the data in the form of a DNA capsule inside glass to prevent degradation. The new method can store 455 exabytes of information in one gram of DNA, which could last for thousands of years. In comparison, the most powerful hard drives available today can store around six terabytes of data that might last just 50 years.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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