Hitachi Stores Information On GlassFor all our advanced technology, we sure can't seem to keep our data safe. Even the best storage mediums can only keep data stored for a few hundred years, at the most. Needless to say, that doesn't bode well for us in the future.
Hitachi's newly unveiled quartz glass plate technology AFP PHOTO/Yoshikazu TSUNO
That looks like it might be about to change. Hitachi has managed to make a glass-based storage medium that can store data for hundreds of millions of years.
The technology is similar to how we encode things now: a laser is used to burn microscopic holes into a storage medium. In this case: quartz glass. As long as the glass doesn't get destroyed, the data can stay intact for a very, very long time without any data loss.
The data can be read back by an optical microscope, which means that it isn't hard to retrieve it again even if technology changes.
Talking about the impetus for developing the technology, Hitachi researcher Kazuyoshi Torii said "The volume of data being created every day is exploding, but in terms of keeping it for later generations, we haven't necessarily improved since the days we inscribed things on stones."
Hitachi believes that the glass will be so durable because they heated the glass to 1,000 degrees Celsius for two hours and the data was still retrievable. And given what we know about glass, it can stay intact for millions of years (assuming it doesn't get shattered first, of course).
For comparison, tape, one of the longer lasting methods for bulk storing data, only lasts up to 30.
Of course, the technology isn't without its drawbacks. Right now the data density is really too low to be useful: it is only 40 Megabytes per inch, compared to a recent Seagate [hard drive|http://www.seagate.com/about/newsroom/press-releases/terabit-milestone-storage-seagate-master-pr/] which had densities of 1 Terabit per inch.
ZDNet Photo by : AFP PHOTO/Yoshikazu TSUNO