Today’s data storage media (e.g., DVDs and hard drives) meet current global data storage needs of around 97 trillion gigabytes. But researchers are concerned they can’t keep pace with growing storage demand, which could double by 2025. In addition, the plastic and magnetic materials in these media can degrade and the technology can become obsolete, making replacement necessary as often as every 3 years.
Alternative technologies—like synthetic DNA and laser-etched glass—have more capacity and durability, but need further development before they can be widely used. We examined these alternative technologies, how they work, and more.
Current technologies are energy intensive and may not meet the exponentially increasing demand for data storage. Without alternatives—such as synthetic DNA or glass—businesses, governments, and individuals may lose billions of gigabytes of data in the next decade. However, high costs and slow write speeds of these technologies pose challenges to their wider use.
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