What will they think of next? A 100 million year data storage system

Looking for a way to store data for 100 million years (yes, you heard me correctly – 100 MILLION years!), then look no further.  Developed in conjuction with a Kyoto University research lab, Hitachi recently announced a glass-based data storage system that lasts forever (or until about 100 million years have passed).

How does the system work?  Data is etched onto four layers of a thin sheet of quartz glass using a laser that creates dots that a standard optical microscope can read.  You can reportedly store 40 MB of data in just one square inch of the glass.

How durable is the glass?  It’s both water- and heat-resistant with Hitachi reporting the glass withstood 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours in an accelerated aging test without affecting data quality.  The glass is also reportedly resistant to many chemicals and unaffected by radio waves.  No word, however, if/how the glass will survive the more typical glass disaster of being dropped on the floor.

When will it be commercially available?  A PCWorld article reports Hitachi may be able to bring it to market by 2015 and that the company is currently envisioning a system where customers send their data to Hitachi to be encoded.

How much will it cost?  Although a price hasn’t been announced, this technology likely won’t be cheap given the need for additional (and to be developed) equipment to etch and read the glass.

What could the system store?  Hitachi envisions this “semi-perpetual” system of data storage being used to store “valuable data such as historically important legacies and public documents, and personal data that individuals may wish to preserve for future generations”.

For additional information, check out Hitachi’s press release which includes detailed information on how the technology works.

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