Could DNA Be the Future of Data Storage?

Shubham Dhire

June 8, 2023

10:27 am

Imagine keeping all your data in digital data storage instead of a hard drive. Using this technology, you could store thousands of TBs of data at your fingertips. You may think that it’s science fiction. But noo, it’s not. 

Several big companies are investing in DNA digital storage. The reason is that we can’t handle all the digital data we’re getting. Floppy disks are a traditional approach and can’t meet modern storage needs.

DNA Data Storage system can store much more data than other technologies like floppy disks. Since biomolecules have a half-life of 500 years, data can be preserved for thousands to millions of years. This way, you can back up data naturally by reproducing bacteria.

Research and Market estimates predict DNA Data Storage will grow from $57.81 million in 2021 to $1,761.49 million by 2028, with a growth rate of 61.29% between 2022 and 2028.

Because of all these reasons, DNA storage has proved to be a good solution.

DNA Data Storage: What Is It?

A DNA data storage system stores data in DNA molecules. In a nutshell, it’s a massive roadmap with all the details on everything. 

In DNA storage, there are no binary digits (meaning 1s and 0s), like in optical and magnetic storage. Instead, they’d be encoded as DNA nucleotide bases (A, C, G, T). It’s necessary to convert these strands into binary digits to use them.

Over 11 trillion gigabytes of data are added daily, and 2.5 million gigabytes are added. Currently, no storage media can handle this massive increase in data, and a DNA storage solution can solve this problem.

What’s the process for storing DNA data?

The name DNA refers to deoxyribonucleic acid. Organic molecules like DNA carry genetic information about living things. Every human has it, which stores details like skin color, eye color, height, and more. 

Several unique bases make up a DNA spiral. Each base consists of four: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. A DNA spiral is made up of pairs of bases, and Adenine-thymine and guanine-cytosine are the two base pairs. Traditionally, data is stored in binary digits (1s and 0s). DNA’s four nucleotides (A, C, G, T) store and encode data. A codon is a permutation of three nucleotides. Three steps go into storing DNA: coding, synthesizing, and storing. 

There’s a long way to go before DNA storage replaces existing methods, and this area is getting more research. Eventually, technology will make it possible to store data in DNA, solving problems like storage, security, and degradation.

What’s so great about DNA data storage?

Digital storage can’t compete with DNA storage; you get a lot of storage space, a long life, compactness, reliability, and replication. Here’s what it has to offer.

Storage space

DNA storage is denser than other storage mediums. Even if you store your data on NAS or cloud, it’s still on big servers. They cost as much to build and maintain as a football stadium. DNA data storage is different. DNA data storage lets you store a lot of data very compactly. Thus, reducing maintenance, space, and equipment shortages.

Reliability

Digital storage has become less durable. They’re all prone to decay and degradation. A computer’s data gradually decomposes as it runs, affecting millions of people yearly. The half-life of DNA is 500 years, and data stored in DNA can last hundreds of years in an optimum environment.

Replication

Eventually, data centers have to copy their data from old hardware to new. It is often a tedious process. It’s easy to replicate DNA. Scientists have tested inserting DNA with stored information into bacteria. In this way, the bacteria reproduce themselves without errors or losing information.

Does DNA Data Storage have a future?

In a word, yes. There’s no doubt DNA data storage can solve today’s storage problems and can be the future of data storage. Currently, it’s used by companies that want to keep a lot of information that doesn’t need frequent access. 

Unfortunately, DNA storage won’t be commonplace or affordable for the public for quite some time. Meanwhile, we must choose the best storage format for long-term data storage.

Shubham Dhire

June 8, 2023

10:27 am

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