Forget the cloud, save your files to a strand of DNA

The next frontier for data storage might be in our genes.

We can see tech’s evolution in the ways we store our data: floppy disks, CDs, hard drives, the cloud — and whatever’s coming next. 

A silver Biomemory card on a blue and black background with a DNA strand.

But what if we told you what’s next is already here… and it’s DNA?

Yes, we’re talking about the stuff in your body that makes you, you. French startup Biomemory is leading the charge on turning it into storage, per Wired:

  • To store data, users input text via Biomemory’s website where it’s converted from binary code (zeros and ones) to DNA code (A’s, C’s, G’s, and T’s). Then, Biomemory constructs a DNA strand using the custom sequence. 
  • The strand is synthesized in solution, dried to increase shelf life, and sealed inside a chip in a silver card. 
  • It costs $1k for two cards, and each card can hold one kilobyte of text data (about half a page) and should last ~150 years. 

That last part is pretty cool considering hard drives last about five years and flash drives ~10. 

When customers are ready to access their data, they’ll mail in one of their cards to be opened and rehydrated before it’s read by a sequencing machine. 

The DNA code sequence is then mailed back to the customer, who can translate it into text using the company’s website. 

Wild, right?

We think so. It also comes with several perks:

  • DNA is compact: Research suggests a single gram of DNA can hold ~36m copies of Avengers: Endgame.
  • Global data creation is on track to outpace the amount of available storage space, and DNA could open up a new reserve.

Plus, DNA data storage could have a big environmental impact. Hard drives in data centers account for ~1.5% of the world’s electricity consumption; DNA storage requires no energy until retrieval. 

Other companies, like Microsoft and Twist Bioscience, are working on DNA storage, too, and have already stored whole songs and music videos.

While it’s not very practical (yet), it could be an option for sentimental, important information you want to keep safe.

Like that cookie recipe from your grandma your siblings keep trying to steal.

New call-to-action

Related Articles

Get the 5-minute news brief keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop. Always free. 100% fresh. No bullsh*t.