Quantum Data Memory and the Not-So-Distant Future of Data Storage

From email to social media, mobile apps and more, people are interacting digitally more than ever these days. And that means ever-more data that's created, processed, stored and backed up, with new research predicting a 4,300 percent increase in data generation by 2020. Storage solutions, from the first magnetic drum memory to modern cloud technologies, have advanced to keep pace with increases in sheer volume and demands for speedier access to the data people create every day. But what happens when people produce more data than they're able to store?

More Speed, More Volume

From punch cards read by machines to CD-ROMs, data storage solutions have evolved to keep up with demands for increased speed and volume capabilities. So, how should consumers select services to store and backup their data — and what does the future of data storage hold?  Some experts predict that the future will lie with next-generation technologies such as quantum memory and phase-change memory. These technologies show promise for allowing users to store more data, and access that data much more quickly than is possible today. 

“Next generation flash memory, such as phase-change memory, could make flash storage solutions that are up to 100 times faster than current data storage solutions and that give users more storage capabilities for the same amount of space,” explains Joel Berman, a longtime IT professional and marketing fellow at Acronis. 

A Quantum Leap

Quantum memory is another promising area, though it's too expensive to be a viable data storage method for consumers today. Cost, however, isn't the only limitation. The quantum information is fragile and ephemeral. "In these superconducting systems, the quantum information only persists for about 100 microseconds — a tiny fraction of a second," Dr. Michael J. Biercuk, director of the Quantum Control Labratory at the University of Sydney, tells Wired. Biercuk and his team are working to make quantum memory more reliable. 

Whatever the future holds, Berman explains that speed and volume will only increase. 

“As mobile technology drives demand for high-capacity, low-weight storage devices, advancements will continue to create faster, more reliable data storage solutions" he says. "Soon, users will be able to send queries to the cloud and retrieve their information over the air, while only retaining enough data locally to answer immediate questions or allow for work when disconnected. This will drive much better software and services as well as push hardware limits.”

[Image via CanStock