What Is the Future of Data Storage?

Digital data storage has changed beyond recognition in our own lifetimes. Mediums like punch cards, magnetic tape, and floppy disks have one by one become obsolete and have instead been replaced by flash drives and cloud storage. You might think that there might not be much more progress to make in the field of data storage, but there is actually a wide range of progressive storage technology in development. Whether they claim to dramatically increase storage space, reduce energy consumption or provide additional benefits, here we take a look at just a few of the more unusual data storage formats currently under consideration:

Helium-Filled Drives

A couple of years ago, HGST, an independent subsidiary of Western Digital, introduced its first helium-filled 3.5-inch hard drive. A spokesperson explained that using helium—which has one-seventh the density of air—to fill the space inside the drive makes it possible to dramatically reduce the friction between spinning disks. This reduces the electrical power the drive consumes by almost 25% while also allowing more disks to be packed closer together in the same sized package. The company has such a belief in the project that they plan to discontinue all of their air-filled disk manufacturing in favor of helium-filled drives by 2017.


Multi-Cloud Technology

Cloud storage is by far one of the most popular technological developments of the last few years for businesses – this blog post from Landmark Technologies details just some of the benefits cloud technology is providing. However, while cloud storage is being adopted worldwide, researchers at IBM are already working on the next thing. Dubbed “the cloud of the clouds,” or multi-cloud technology, this new solution aims to allow you to move data between multiple cloud platforms in real time. This would mean that rather than using a public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud, you can instead merge all of these into one complete platform. One of the advantages this kind of distribution system should provide is eliminating service outages from individual providers.


Genetic Storage

DNA is a universal and fundamental data storage mechanism in biology, but could in store your documents, photos, and music? Researches have been recently looking into DNA as a method to store large amounts of digital information. Today, our hard drives can store up to 5TB of data using the ones and zeros of binary code. However, storing this data in the four chemical nucleotides of DNA could theoretically hold up to 300,000TB. DNA has also proven itself to be viable over long spans of time when stored appropriately, as is shown by the study of woolly mammoth DNA from up to 60,000 years ago.

With the ever marching progress of technology, we should never expect solutions to stand still. Perhaps it won’t be long until some of these technologies seem out of date.