The lifespan of data storage media is an important metric that often shapes the design and development of hard drives, flash drives and the like. Experts like Brian Torchin say that many of today’s storage medium technologies are quite capable of storing date for 100 years or more given certain circumstances about their use and treatment. However, scientists are working on a “dna time capsule” which can utilize glassed-in DNA in order to store data for over 2 million years. It seems that data stored in such a DNA drive has a good chance of outlasting the Earth itself.
A solid-state drive that can provide over 100 years of life if it is only written to once or a few times is a good baseline to compare these recent DNA discoveries. DNA is incredibly durable as scientists have found from extracting it from many fossilized places. Just a single gram of DNA would be enough to hold the entirety of data that Google, Facebook, and all other major tech companies now hold. That certainly makes investigating the possibilities of DNA drives a likely lucrative endeavor should breakthroughs be made. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has taken up the task of determining how long this DNA-embedded data might last and the results are quite impressive. The Global Seed Vault in the Arctic could preserve the data beyond 2 million years at a -18 °C. This would be the ultimate medium for long-term storage.