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Advantages of DNA data storage | disadvantages of DNA data storage

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of DNA data storage and its basics. It mentions benefits or advantages of DNA data storage and drawbacks or disadvantages of DNA data storage.

What is DNA data storage?

Introduction:
The demand of digital data storage has grown exponentially due to large amount of data produced on internet. DNA based data storage solutions fulfill this huge data storage requirements. DNA offers abundant, sustainable and stable data storage solution with storage density in the order of magnitude better than solutions available today.

DNA data storage
Image Courtesy: POTOMAC INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES

DNA data storage is process of encoding binary data into synthetic and man-made DNA strands. DNA data storage involves following processes viz. 1. writing the code via DNA synthesis and 2. reading the code via DNA sequencing. The figure depicts entire process of encoding of digital data into DNA and decoding of data from DNA.
• To store binary file into DNA, binary digits (in the form of 1s and 0s) are converted into letters of A, C, G and T. These letters represent four unique nucleotides which make up DNA: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine.
• Here physical storage medium is synthesized chain of DNA containing As, Cs, Gs and Ts in a sequence corresponding to order of bits in a digital file.
• In order to recover stored data back, chain of DNA is sequenced and order of As, Cs, Gs and Ts are decoded back into original digital sequence.

Benefits or advantages of DNA data storage

Following are the benefits or advantages of DNA data storage over traditional media storage methods.
➨DNA offers scalable, random-access and error-free data storage system.
➨It's storage density is several orders of magnitude higher than any other known storage technologies. For example, Flash memory stores 1 bit in approx. 10 nms where as DNA is capable of storing 2 bits in 0.34 nm.
➨DNA is stable for thousands of years compare to magnetic, optical and flash methods. Hence it offers very long device life cycle. DNA molecule offers half-life of more than 500 years.
➨It is very light in weight.
➨It does not occupy much space for storing huge amount of data.
➨It offers very high level of data security during storage.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of DNA data storage

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of DNA data storage:
➨ DNA synthesis methods depend on organic chemistry. Hence cost of DNA synthesis is very expensive.
➨ It is time consuming to access the data. It requires DNA device to be sent to the lab for reading the data sequence which is stored as DNA language (in the form of DNA code letters 'A-00','T-01','C-10' and 'G-11'). New technologies are required to advance field of DNA data storage.
➨ Synthetic DNA requires cold and dark storage.
➨ It will take time for technology to mature to provide us very cheap devices for daily use.
➨Initially DNA has been developed to support life science applications and not data storage. Hence the challenge is to have commercial viability of DNA data storage based products.

In order to understand advantages of DNA data storage and disadvantages of DNA data storage one has to understand DNA data storage basics including encoding and decoding process as explained in the figure-1 above.



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