A few years ago, a team of multinational researchers based in Europe announced that they had developed a process for storing in microscopic DNA strands large amounts of digital data.

According to the previous research, it is theoretically possible to store through this process up to 300,000 terabytes of data in just a fraction of an ounce of DNA. And all this information can be safely stored to last for thousands of years. Compared to this revolutionary technology, today's most powerful desktop hard drives can store only around 6 terabytes of data. And the information stored on them might last only up to 50 years.

This week, the results of a new research have been announced by scientists. They moved from theory closer to practical applications. The team demonstrated at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) that DNA-encapsulated information had endured the equivalent of 2,000 years with no decoding errors.

The scientists approximated the passage of time by embedding the DNA is silica spheres. The spheres were heated up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for an entire week. According to the research, team this equates to about 2,000 years at a temperature of 50 degrees. When the scientists have unpacked the DNA and decoded it, they could access the preserved information error-free.

For this experiment, the scientists used just a small amount of data for the encoded DNA, around 80 kilobytes of text from the Swiss National Charter and the work of Archimedes. The research was conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH). Even if only using a small amount of text data for their study, the researchers already proved in their previous tests that it is possible to successfully encode audio, images, and video.

One advantage of using DNA over traditional hard drives, besides the radical miniaturization involved, is durability. Since the constant supply of electricity is not required for DNA storage the information can be secured and stored for long. Other traditionally no-power archiving materials such as magnetic tape, tends to degrade within a decade, according to scientists.

As the next step in their research, the team of scientists at ETH aims to develop a labeling system in order to enable searching within data encoded in DNA molecules. According to the lead researcher Robert Grass of ETH, in DNA storage the encoded information has as support floating molecules in a drop of liquid. He explained in the official news release that at present their revolutionary data storage technology allows reading everything that's in that drop but the next step is to make it possible "to point to a specific place within the drop and read only one file.