The future of data storage

The future of data storage

In 2020, it’s estimated the world is producing around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. To put that into perspective, a thousand billion is a trillion – a thousand trillion is quadrillion – and a thousand quadrillion is a quintillion, i.e., 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s a whole load of zeros, right there.

Computers, networks, streaming, and other associated digital tech have become such a part of our every day lives that this number is only going to increase in the future.

Sure, we could surround ourselves with multiple external hard drives, but really, in 2020, maybe we should be exploring other more effective ways to store – and serve – our data.

Cloud storage – the future, today

One possible future of data storage is already in everyday use around us today. The popularity of cloud storage and computing systems has increased hugely over the last ten years – facilitated in no small part by vastly quicker connection speeds.

This trend is common across both personal and business users with Cloud computing services offering 24×7 IT Solutions offers support and networking solutions in remote, online environments.

The use of cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular in office networks. At the same time, cloud computing can also be seen in an increasing number of mobile apps, where local software uses remote processing power to complete complex, CPU-hungry tasks.

As our connections get quicker on faster wireless networks, expect our reliance on cloud services to continue to grow.

Helium drives

One of the significant problems with current hard drives is they aren’t airtight. This makes them inefficient to run and also reduces their storage capacity.

Modern, hermetically sealed helium drives are already available, which vastly increases a hard drive’s efficiency and storage capacity.

As helium offers far lower resistance, the spinning disks of these drives have lower running costs – with reduced operating temperatures an added side benefit. Another advantage of helium drives is their increased storage capacity per square inch (an estimated increase of around 25%).

Storing data in glass

Vast research is on-going into the potential of glass for data storage – with extremely encouraging results to date. Unlike the traditional drives we use today, glass has the potential to have data ‘etched’ onto it in three dimensions, resulting in a reduced form factor coupled with increased capacity.

More than that, though, glass also allows data to be stored in different orientations and sizes of imprint – resulting, technically, in five-dimensional storage.

The future of glass as a storage medium looks very promising, with Microsoft investing heavily in the research of the technology in its Project Silica.

Using DNA for data storage

Probably the most exciting area of data storage research is being done with DNA. It also holds the most significant potential for our future data archiving options.

While it’s perhaps understandable to view DNA as an unlikely candidate for data storage, when you remember it already holds the building blocks for all life on earth, it becomes easier to comprehend the vast potential DNA could have as a storage medium.

Artificial code sequences have already been constructed using the familiar DNA structures – A, C, G, and T. Several years ago, an extracted DNA code sequence was used to display a simple “Hello world” message on a computer screen.

Since then, successful trials have included storing video in DNA strands and, more recently, storing the entire 16Gb English-language Wikipedia in a tiny vial of a polymer.

DNA has a long way to go before it becomes commercially viable, but these recent successful trials point to an intriguing future for the technology.

The need for new data storage solutions

As we move more of our personal and work lives online – and we integrate increasingly with technology – our thirst for storage grows greater by the day.

Only time will tell which will become our preferred platform for data storage in the future but, with our use of digital devices increasing, our old storage habits are already beginning to creak under the load.