Just one single gram of DNA can store 1.000.000.000 Terabytes of data for over a thousand years. Microsoft has purchased 10 million strands of synthetic DNA – these DNA molecules are called Oligonucleotides. The biology-focused company Twist supplied the strands of synthetic DNA and researchers from the University of Washington started exploring the idea of using DNA for data storage.

If Microsoft’s plan works, it will revolutionize data storage technology as we know it today. The current rate and volume of data being stored and produced every day is so fast that hard drives and servers are having a hard time coping with it – they need periodical replacement or upgrades and this in turn increases the risk of data loss or corruption.

Statistics show that by 2015, 5.4 zettabytes or 4.4 trillion gigabytes of digital data has been created and this number’s set to increase tenfold by 2020. How are we going to store 10 times the amount of data in the next 4 years? This is the question that Microsoft is planning to answer.

Microsoft wants to store data on DNA

DNA offers an enormously higher data storage density than conventional hard drives or systems – one gram of DNA can store up to 1 billion terabytes of data. DNA is also very robust meaning that any data stored on it can be readable or intact for up to 10.000 years. - That’s a bit more than your average hard drive’s life expectancy.

Twist states that all the data that exists today can be stored on as little as 20 grams of DNA. Although this may sound great, the technology is far from being ready to support our daily data and storage needs. Initial tests have gotten great results – one test demonstrated that all of the data encoded on DNA can be recovered with ease.

The American Chemical Society also recently released a statement that supports Microsoft’s finds – Data stored on DNA molecules could last up to 2000 years without being deteriorated in any way.

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