Finding new ways of storing information in this era of Big Data is helping push the boundaries of science.
DNA has long been described as the building blocks of nature, but over the past few decades mind-boggling work has been going on to develop the use of DNA as a high-capacity storage medium.
Yes, you read that correctly: DNA as a storage medium for external data.
So, very succinctly, instead of storing data as a series of 0s and 1s, as we do digitally, it is stored on synthesised DNA as the nucleotide base pairs of GC and AT – the rungs of the double helix. Special algorithms convert the binary digital files into the four bases, G, C, A and T; information is then stored by synthesising short DNA strings with the specific base patterns. To retrieve the data, the DNA helix must be taken apart, the target area copied and extracted and the helix put back together again.
It’s a dense and stable way of storing data long term and is easy to replicate. Work has progressed from using 28 base pairs to store one picture in 1988 to the entire English language Wikipedia being stored in 2019. A single gram of DNA can potentially hold 215 million GB of data; every film ever made could be stored in less space than a sugar cube.
But if all this sounds too good to be true, it is – for the foreseeable future, at any rate. Storing and retrieving the data is a very, very slow process and to store a single minute of your favourite music, about 1MB, would cost around £800.
While we wait to see if DNA storage become commercially viable, your long-term data storage is safe with us. Whether you use CDs, DVDs, magnetic tapes or the cloud for your data storage and backups, we offer locations across England, Scotland and Wales with 24 hour security, fire suppression systems and online tracking software.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help with your data storage in the present – no need to put it off until the future – just speak to one of our friendly people on 0333 060 8804.
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