By successfully writing and reading 200MB of data stored in DNA strands, Microsoft Research and the University of Washington have broken a scientific record. Storing information in DNA structures is interesting because it has a higher data density as current electronic technologies.
According to Luis Ceze (University of Washington), DNA is “millions of times denser than other storage media”. Interestingly, he also says that DNA is extremely durable and can last for hundreds, if not thousands of years – it’s probably not the first intuition that one may have because we’ve been watching CSI. That’s because we are talking about synthetic DNA.
On the other hand, magnetic tapes, which are still largely used in Enterprise storage will lose their data at some point. In fact, tapes have to be copied every once in a while before the magnetic signature won’t deteriorate too much and result in data loss.
The concept of DNA digital storage is not new, but it has made rapid progress in the late 90s and is benefiting from the tools and research done for medical purposes. In time, scientists think that DNA-based storage will make financial sense, but this is not in the foreseeable future. If you are curious about this research, you can read their complete paper (PDF link) titled “A DNA-Based Archival Storage System”