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How to Preserve

Data Storage Media and Digital Preservation: Today and The Future

It is now easier than ever to create digital content, but preserving that content remains a challenge. By 2025, it is estimated that the amount of data being stored globally from all sectors will reach a whopping 175 zettabytes. Mass migrations from obsolete storage formats will only add to the data storage tsunami, as there simply isn't enough storage media to manage the load, nor does the planet have enough raw materials to manufacture our current media ad infinitum.

Future technologies, and the actions that preservationists, archivists, and other stewards of digital content take today, will be crucial to stemming the tide going forward. Andrea Kalas, SVP of Asset Management at Paramount Pictures, sits down with Digital Bedrock founder and CEO Linda Tadic to discuss potential solutions, from R&D into alternative technologies still in their infancy, such as DNA storage, to concepts of hierarchical storage principles and appraisal policies that will help determine what content should be retained. The sooner we discuss and tackle these concerns, the better-equipped we will be to face them head on.

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  • Avatar for rob.hummel

    Big progress when in December of 2020, Microsoft successfully recorded 5 bytes to DNA in just over 21 hours.

  • Avatar for cinemaculture

    Linda Tadic’s article discussed the general need for denser and more durable storage media for archival data, and she reported on two particular technologies – “glass” storage (data permanently marked in silica crystal by femto-lasers) and DNA storage. Some very interesting progress regarding the storage of data using DNA has been reported recently. In this work, the researchers were able add “letters” to DNA sequences (that is, an extension of the AGTC alphabet) to significantly increase the ability to store data at a molecular level. The novel version of DNA is a variant of what we normally find in nature, and appears to be an important step in the program to evolve a stable data storage technology for massive data storage, another advance toward the replacement of the more transient storage devices that currently support cloud storage. This nano storage model offers data density and longevity that exceed all present containers by orders of magnitude.

    Note that the primary article at the end of this list provides a rich bibliography of this research and cognate technologies germane to nano-storage of data.

    It seems like scientific breakthroughs take roughly fifty years to evolve into viable technologies such as those we adopt in the media industry. So where are we on the clock for molecular data storage?