Microsoft is testing the viability of DNA as a long-term storage medium

By Shawn Knight · 11 replies
Apr 28, 2016
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  1. Microsoft has agreed to purchase 10 million DNA oligonucleotides from a scientific research facility known as Twist Bioscience. The Redmond-based company is interested in testing the viability of DNA as a long-term storage medium.

    Storage technology simply hasn’t been able to keep pace with our increasingly digital lives. As Twist Bioscience points out, the quantity of digital data is doubling approximately every two years but our ability to store said data is not keeping pace.

    DNA, Microsoft suspects, could be the answer to this growing concern.

    Doug Carmean, a Microsoft partner architect within the company’s Technology and Research organization said the initial test phase with Twist demonstrated they could encode and recover 100 percent of the digital data from synthetic DNA.

    Carmean added that they’re still years away from a commercially- viable product but said early tests with Twist demonstrate that in the future, they’ll be able to substantially increase the density and durability of data storage.

    Twist Bioscience says a single gram of DNA can store nearly one trillion gigabytes (sometimes referred to as a zettabyte) of digital data. Twist Bioscience CEO Emily M. Leproust, said DNA has a known shelf life of several thousand years.

    A study from the Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering at ETH Zurich in February 2015 demonstrated that digital information could be kept for up to two million years if stored at -0.4°F.

    Permalink to story.

  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,739   +3,757

    30 years from now:


    Hackers gain remote access to drives and demand randsom of 1,000,000 BTC or users will be turned into monkeys via DNA alteration. The government has urged consumers to stay away from DNA-based storage hardware until an effective vaccine has been developed and to contact the CDC should they come in physical contact with Samsung nDNA drives.

  3. Igrecman

    Igrecman TS Maniac Posts: 212   +123

    Will you need to bring your computer to the hospital when it gets a virus?
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,033   +2,558

    This is great stuff! Pretty soon the NSA will be able to store every phone call ever made by every phone ever made.

    Then, you all will be back here pissing and moaning about your privacy being invaded, boo, hoo, (imagine gang eye drying, and a whimper-in here).

    I think this bodes well for the people with an excess of intelligence who are over qualified for actual work, to be able to drag in substantial paychecks for working at M$ on nonsense like this.

    We live in an age where "data" seems to be the only thing of value. Well data, like anything else I suppose, has an expiration date. So how much of it actually needs to be kept around? Will it be really important to know that at exactly 10:39 PM EDT August 20, 2017, your grandson left his first fart? How will knowing this enrich the lives of his descendants, in August 20, 2067? Will they hold a "50th fart-I-versary party in it's honor? Will DNA memory be able to remember smells, and play them back at said party? stay tuned.

    Personally I believe if we survive that long, we have inbred ourselves to a society of imbeciles who all test to 205 IQs, (on paper, at least), all suffering PTSD from shock brought on by long term, "chronic and acute data overdose".

    Viruses, even computer viruses, will have evolved to such an advanced state, they will be resistant to all forms of "medical" & "software" interventions. Hence, the only solution for an infected computer, will be to euthanize it, and replace it will a healthy clone.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  5. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +243

    Twisted science from a twisted mind: I'll be damned! I am storing my edited pictures of natalie portman to this dna storage system. then I'll hire a molecular biologist and an obstetrician-gynecologist with assisted reproduction technology expertise to create my own 'natalie portman lookalike'
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,033   +2,558

    Or, you could simply get her to French kiss you, and then never brush your teeth again....*nerd*(y)

    Although, Keira Knightley looks an awful lot like her, especially when they were both younger.
    Besides, Ms. Knightley looks as though she has a slightly dirtier mind. That always helps:
    And she's bad a**!
    Just never get her mad at you:

    I expect either of their cheek swabs should be enough to make any man happy.

    Just start saving your pennies, and hope they have this technology in place before your prostate gives out..:oops: (*)

    (*) Although by then, they'll probably be able to 3D print you a new one.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
    misor likes this.
  7. Randomthom

    Randomthom TS Enthusiast Posts: 50   +17

    Does this mean that one day we'll be complaining that data has mutated rather than interference or corruption?
  8. Joba83

    Joba83 TS Rookie

    What I like about these innovations is the totally unexpected turns they take. DNA for storing data? Damn. I wonder what solutions they'll come up for battery life, connections speeds, processing power, etc. Already I'm finding the world 50 years from now totally incomprehensible. But that's cool.
  9. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    Can't wait for the computers' rights people to start showing up saying that computers are people too and shouldn't be euthanized.
  10. Doesn't even DNA have problems, like the so-called 'junk DNA' that humans carry around. Or do we just need to do a chkdsk?
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,033   +2,558

    Dude, you missed the entire point of this discussion. You would either have to do a "chkdna", or send the whole mess back to "", to recover the data.*nerd*

    At any rate, enough of this. I'm off to defragment my own HDD. It's the least I can do for it, after making it store all those pictures of Keira Knightley.(y)

    OK, so it's not much of a Friday night, but it's all I have...:oops:

    OK Mods, anything below the line requires a finely tuned sense of humor, is not suitable for most people on the planet, and is obviously fair game for editing_____________________________________________________

    I can honestly say, being of Germanic origin, we have entire races consisting of nothing but junk DNA.....Seig Heil!
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,033   +2,558

    Yes those durned SJW's will likely show up in force, while blaming "God" for putting them up to it (*).

    (*) "Putting them up to it", is a euphemism for "enlightened".

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