DNA Data Storage

The ever-growing technology and human demands have led to a significant problem of data storage. Every day a significant amount of data is created by users. Finally, the need for data storage has been felt.  In the past two years, the amount of data created far exceeds the data generated before that.

In fact, hard drives insufficient to store the huge amount of data in the future. As new technology trends are making our lives more comfortable, the need for new data storage devices has seen a surge.

As more computer and infrastructure come online, roughly 2.5 Quintillion bytes of data is being created every day. For an ordinary user, a long-term storage device can be of no use. However, multinational organizations and companies require to store a massive amount of data on a daily basis. The data of digital transactions and company files are necessary for them, so they would want a long-term storage solution.

Current optical disks and tapes are being widely used for storing data, but they also have some downsides. For instance, the average life span of a hard disk drive is about five to seven years if they are used continuously. Whereas, optical CDs are usable for ten years.

Long-term storage devices like tape drives can store about ten terabytes of digital data. However, both of them are bulky and require a massive amount of physical space.

tape drives

What To Do When Storage Technologies Are No Longer Produced

To solve every problem with humanity, we turn to our mother nature for help. Similarly, DNA is the answer to the essential question of data storage. As DNA stores all our genetic information in it, then why can’t we use DNA for storing digital information?

Scientists and researchers have come up with a new way to store data by encoding it in DNA. DNA is in use for storing the highest-density large-scale data into a small area of DNA. A single gram of DNA can store 215 million gigabytes of digital data.

Theoretically, storing data in DNA has some advantages as well. First of all, DNA provides a tremendous amount of storage in a single speck. All the data of the world can be stored in 1Kg of DNA. Secondly, DNA is quite stable and therefore, long-lasting. Thirdly, as long as a human is able to read and write DNA, then they can also use the processes of DNA data storage services.

DNA is ultralight, compact and can last thousands of years if kept accurately. They do not degrade over time like the CDs and traditional tapes and also have a high conversion rate. Since 2012, scientists are using DNA for storing information. They use the DNA’s four-letter strands A, G, T, and C to encode and decode the 0s and 1s of the digital code.

The Process Of Using DNA Data Storage

  • First, encode binary code into nucleotide code.
  • Then separate codes into bits and then assign an address to each code in each fragment.
  • Use short fragments of oligonucleotides to synthesize the DNA
  • Now store the pieces in the freezer.
  • On decoding, amplify it and sequence the decoded code.
  • Re-assemble the sequence data after analyzing it.
  • Finally, convert the re-assemble sequence data into the primary binary code.

Church’s DNA Code For Data Storage

Church’s group completed a task of converting 5.27 megabits of digital data into DNA codes. In computing terms, a bit is the basic unit of data. A bit is the binary code zero and one.

The converted DNA data has an HTML draft with 53,426 words, 11 JPEG images and one JavaScript program. It was achieved by separating the digital data into 54,898 fragments of 159 nucleotides. The nucleotides were stored in a 96-bit data block along with a 19-bit address code.

Please note that they encode one bit per base like A or C for zero, G or T for one, but the theoretical maximum of encoding is limited to 2 bits per base.

DNA code for data storage

Goldman’s DNA Code For Data Storage

The Goldman’s Group had a different approach for data storage in the DNA. The sophisticated encoding system was used by the Goldman team. The system was taken to ensure that there are no sequence repeats. Instead of using the Church’s simple method, they used triple codes of 0s, 1s and 2s.

A synthesis machine was used to create a DNA code from the triplet codes. The triplet code system ensures that no repeats occur in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA data storage.

Some Future Expectations

Despite advancing technology, it contains pros and cons. Similarly, the DNA data storage has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

  • High data density- At the molecular level, the digital storage density in the DNA space is much higher than that of our current technologies.
  • High stability- There are many shreds of evidence on how DNA can provide specific clues about the identity of a mammal who died thousands of years ago.
  • Easy storage- DNA can store digital data in packages providing an ample amount of space for storing other digital data.

Disadvantages

  • Reagents- DNA data storage and decoding are highly complex. Only a person with excellent coding skills can make use of DNA data storage.
  • High cost- The price of DNA synthesis is very high. An ordinary man cannot use the DNA data storage service.
  • Takes a lot of time- To use the DNA data storage service, a lot of encoding and decoding is required. The process of coding is complicated as well as time-consuming.
  • Long-term storage format- We do not how will the DNA data storage service work in the real environment. Also, we do not know how to keep the DNA safe.

To Conclude

As of now, we can wait for new techniques and approaches for DNA data storage. Scientists and researchers are continuously working on the DNA data storage program. Hope that in the future there are more possible ways to implement the DNA data storage for the common masses.

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