Have you ever felt the fear? Maybe it was when your laptop went through an airport scanner, or that time you spilled coffee and maybe didn’t lift your computer up from the spillage fast enough. You know the one….the feeling that somehow, maybe by freak accident or normal wear and tear, your hard drive is going to die.
What if there was a solution to this problem? Some kind of everlasting hard drive? The cloud proponents will tell you their solution is just as good, and it very well may be. But one company is proposing a unique solution that may change data storage for good: etching data into stone.
What Drives Data Storage Innovation
As we accumulate more data, our needs to store it grow too. The shelf life of a DVD is marked at somewhere between 2-5 years, making them unreliable for long-term data storage. When SSDs came out, the lack of moving parts gave some longevity, but it was the lower latency that was the true selling point.
Enterprise data is also prone to migration. Servers use physical storage that burns out, the same as anyone else, requiring server movers to safely shift that data during repairs and maintenance. Cloud storage became a solution for enterprise data that required care and security. Companies offer support for data migration and can safely move domains and hosting from one platform to another, with backups kept intact should the need arise.
All of this stems from a need to work with and evaluate larger pools of data.
What M-Disc Brings
For consumers, M-Disc represents a leap forward in storage. In its earliest form, M-Disc is a translucent-gray disc that offers 1,000 years of storage. At a microscopic level, a thin layer of “rock-like” substance is layed over the standard polycarbonate layer. At which point adhesive is applied to keep the rock layer attached. Data is etched into the stone.
To be clear, M-Disc does not offer more storage (you can currently purchase M-Disc in DVD and BluRay formats), M-Disc offers longer shelf life.
Can You Buy M-Disc?
Absolutely. You need a special disk drive (LG currently manufactures one) and you will need discs to burn. You can order discs directly from the M-Disc website and the drive connects through USB or SATA.
M-Disc vs. SSD or External
Apples to apples. The role of M-Disc is more like photo and video storage for home movies or your Facebook photo collection. It will store most of it and, with a lengthy shelf life, many consumers will find them to be a good value. The question is whether the technology will take off and drive innovation elsewhere. The concept of etching data into stone could improve the longevity of the average PCs hard drive, requiring only minimal work to keep it going.
As for storage concerns, M-Disc is another layer and not one you’ll likely use every day for document storage and such. The other concern is that you cannot erase or remove files once you have stored them. You can add files to the disc, so that adds some re-usability. The high powered laser and stone etching ensures data will remain forever, so be forewarned.
It’s worth noting that the risks are no greater than losing your external flash or hard drive.
So why seize data storage for a time period you won’t be around to enjoy it? The answer, says M-Disc, is that you can migrate your data as you see fit.
Interesting concept, will it power hard drives next?