Tech beat – eternity data storage

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Elizabeth Suggs | Staff Writer


Data isn’t a forever storage deposit, and companies, like Backblaze, have been trying to get to the root of the problem. According to researchers at the ETH Zurich in Switzerland, the answer may be in the only known storage system that has been able to forever hold information: DNA.

According to Backblaze, an unlimited online backup company – with 25,000 drives spinning constantly – hard drives have a life anywhere from a decade, to a little over a year, with most hard drives lasting only the first four years of their lives.

“Forty-five drives are mounted in eachBackblaze Storage Pod, and the Storage Pods are mounted in racks in our data centers. As new customers sign up, we buy more disk drives, test them, and deploy them. We are up to75 petabytes of cloud storage now,” said the Backblaze website.

“It’s kind of sad we’ve gotten used to keeping a computer for a few years before replacing it. It would help a lot to buy something that will never need to be replaced,” said May Rice, Utah resident.

“[We face] a forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century [through] “bit rot,” said Vincent Cerf, vice president of Google, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, A Century Lost by Technology of the 21Century.

Bit rot is the prospect of old computer files becoming utterly useless due to the technology falling behind.

Due to this, science is now looking for forever data storage, and has turned to nature for help.

Fossils have saved files upon files of various genetics. From dinosaurs to mammoths, we’ve uncovered information that would never have been possible without the data storage by life.

“We have found elegant ways of making DNA very stable,” Robert Grass, lecturer at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, told CNN. “So we wanted to combine these two stories — to get the high storage density of DNA and combine it with the archaeological aspects of DNA.”

However optimistic researchers are about the project, most DNA is unable to replicate itself after 700,000 years. Due to this, to be able to clone dinosaurs is nearly impossible now.

“The time limit with DNA in fossils is about 700,000 years but people speculate about finding one-million-year storage of genomic material in fossil bones,” Grass said.

By compacting technological data in the same manner as genetics compact themselves in living things, data could be conserved for much longer, if not for an eternity.

“With all the government doesn’t tell us I’m sure it’s already happening,” said Rice.