Microsoft To Use DNA To Store Data In The Cloud

Microsoft To Use DNA To Store Data In The Cloud
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An article at MIT Technology Review says some early work at Microsoft Research is looking at how to encode documents in DNA. The aim is to have some sort of working model by the end of this decade, with the tagline “Your Storage with DNA” being bandied about.

As we reach the thresholds of what we can do with spinning hard drives, SSDs and other solid state memory, companies are looking at removing the bottlenecks in systems in all sorts of novel ways. So it’s not surprising that the system that can encode an entire living organism is being looked at as a template.

According to the article, every movie ever made would fit into something the size of a sugar cube.

While the process is described as “laborious and expensive” at the moment, the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that things that are difficult and costly today, if valuable, do become more cost effective and simpler over time.


  • This is an interesting idea, but surely it’s ridiculously vulnerable? If the data is stored in some sort of organic medium then surely it’s more susceptible to damage than disks or tapes. Although different damage, maybe it’d be more resistant to EMF but what about heat/cold? Or biological corruption? Could bacteria get into the storage medium and effectively corrupt all the data?

    • DNA storage is not new. It’s not organic life, and no, it can’t catch a virus. Yes it can survive heat and cold – because it’s not alive. It’s just a collection of chemical molecules that can be duplicated with existing DNA amplification techniques.

      There are no proteins. There is no self-replication.

      It’s very resilient to corruption due to the sheer number of copies that are made, and all the error correction that goes with that.

  • While DNA and Crystal encoding systems are likely the only solutions to long term storage going forward both of them are slower than glacial slow (file retrieval time in the days)

    This will not be storage as most people would use it, not even for photos. These are storage systems to archive data for hundreds of years.

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