New storage device could last (almost) forever

We’ve talked before about the limited life of data storage devices like VHS, floppy discs, compact discs, and even flash drives.

Not only do storage devices decay or wear out, but they also tend to be incredibly sensitive to heat, cold, magnets, and more.

Now Microsoft thinks it’s come up with a better way. A storage medium that, according to the company, can withstand being ‘boiled in hot water, baked in an oven, microwaved, flooded, scoured, and demagnetized.’

That sounds pretty sturdy to me. It’s all part of Project Silica, which combines artificial intelligence with an ultra-fast laser to store data on quartz glass. This new tech is being designed from the ground up. In fact, Microsoft is hiring for the project now.


Project Silica recently completed a proof-of-concept test by storing a copy of the 1978 movie Superman on a piece of glass the size of a drink coaster.


Microsoft says the new storage medium will be cost-effective because you only need to write the data onto the glass once, and glass doesn’t require expensive air conditioning to keep it at a safe temperature.

At this stage, Project Silica is aimed at storing long-term data that doesn’t need to be frequently accessed.

Warner Brother Media say they’re particularly interested in the project as a way of preserving classic films and television shows for future generations.

“Imagine if a title like the ‘Wizard of Oz’ or a show like ‘Friends’ wasn’t available for generation after generation to enjoy and see and understand. We think that’s unimaginable, and that’s why we take the job of preserving and archiving our content extremely seriously.”

According to a blog post from Microsoft, “The goal is to have three archival copies of each asset stored in different locations around the world: two separate digitized copies, along with the original physical copy on whatever medium a film or television episode or animated cartoon was created.”

This isn’t the only method of advanced storage Microsoft is pursuing. They’re also looking into the possibility of storing data in DNA.

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