DNA Hard Drive: A replacement for traditional Hard Drives


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By Sajjad Khan Bangash

A new invention to store and maintain data for centuries.

In today’s fastest time, hardly there’s any field of profession which is neither directly or directly interdependent on computer and internet applications. In fact, computer and internet technologies have enslaved the humans of the world.
Irrespective of the positive or negative aspects of this technology, its usage is widespread, timely and enormous. 

Nowadays, ‘computing‘ is not only limited to ‘computers’ but it’s widely being used in mobile phones, MP3, Gadgets, and several others related tools.
We know that in computer and similar related tools, the ‘Hard Drive’ is being used for storage of data. In simple words, Hard Drive is the storage warehouse of computer. Whenever, we ‘save’ a particular file, it automatically gets stored in Hard Drive. Several internet service providers and similar biggest companies associated with ‘internet technologies’ such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, Facebook etc. have been maintaining ‘Data Centers’ in which a huge volume of data is stored and retrieved on daily basis.

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Data Center

Not long ago, only few Gigabytes were considered to be fair enough for data storage but with rampant growth and incessant use of computer and influx of internet on a wider scale in houses and offices, have increased the demand of ‘highest data storage capacity‘ in computers. Thus, to say that 40 GB Data Storage seems insufficient now. As now the ‘Hard Drives’ containing few 100s Gigabytes of ‘Data Storage capacities’ are also available in the market.

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Now, in order to cope-up with this massive demand of ‘data storage capacity’, the computer manufacturer and internet service providers along with biggest search engines such as Google, MSN, Yahoo, Facebook etc. Do continuously expand their data storage capacities in their data centers from time to time. However, the scientists and researchers predict that sooner in near future, the capacity to enhance the data storage in traditional forms of ‘Hard Drive’ would seem impossible and will be replaced by new and sophisticated methods of data storage.

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A team of scientists is trying to figure out whether the double-helix molecules that encode every plant, animal and microbe on planet Earth can be used to preserve our data for thousands of years.
The research team at Swiss Federal Institute are equally working hard on the research of ‘DNA Hard Drive’ and just recently, they’ve publicly announced that soon, they’re going to launch ‘DNA Hard Drive’ which can hoard and store ‘Digital Information‘.  The research team further claimed that ‘With the occurrence of any technical error, all the data on traditional Hard drives can be lost, while the DNA Hard Drive can store ‘data’ for centuries.’

During the research process, the scientists further conducted several micro-experiments to examine the information storage capacities of DNA. Initially, they found out that total data storage capacity while on the second phase, they successfully kept the data stored equal to 2000 years. In the meanwhile, the scientists didn’t detect any technical fault in data storage for such longer period of time. The experts are concentrating hard on the next phase which is to find out a way of protecting and (downloading) data on the floating drops on DNA threads.

According to the the team head of this research in Swiss Institute Dr. Roberts Grass ” From centuries, books had been the prime source of transferring information and knowledge to other generations while the scholars of the past used to store their knowledge in written formats in the books so that the coming generation may be benefited from and the books written in the past are still found public libraries and museums which are highly vulnerable to be dissipate. Currently, the computer works under binary system of data storage and data traveling with unified coding of ’01’ system. Similarly, DNA works under ‘unified codes’ as well and these codes are chemical Nucleotide which are grouped and mentioned as A,C,T,G. 

In comparison to traditional forms of hard drives, DNA stores data of thousands years in lesser and precise space. According to Dr. Grass ‘Ideologically, the storage capacity of one smaller piece of DNA equals to 01 terabytes (1000 Gigabytes).

Except that DNA, Grass argues, is much, much better. Today, a hard drive the size of a small book might back up roughly five terabytes of data, and that drive’s components might last about 50 years. Meanwhile, a microscopic droplet of DNA can hold the complete “instruction book” — billions upon billions of letters — for thousands of organisms. In theory, Grass says, a fraction of an ounce of DNA could store more than 300,000 terabytes of information. Even better, from archaeological and paleontological studies, we know that DNA can last for hundreds to thousands of years.

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Time Capsules to preserve data for centuries

Dr. Wint Surf is one of the founders of Internet who already anticipated and warned that in near future, several of existing software and hard-wares around the world will sooner be decaying and dysfunctional while the computer technology will emerge into totally new ‘form’ of invention. Therefore, to save the existing data, new and alternative ways of data protection need to be explored.

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