Over the years we have attempted to store data in various different methods. Some, like the hard drive, have stood the test of time whereas others have quickly fizzled out. As data allows businesses to understand and improve their processes, it is important to ensure that it is kept safe.

Below, we’ve outlined the different ways data storage has evolved and how it continues to evolve to improve our practices.

Data Storage Through The Ages

1725 – 1975 – Punch cards :

Created by Basile Bouchon, using patterns, punch cards were the first form of data storage.

1950 – 1960s – Magnetic Drum :

Commonly used in computers as the main working memory.

1951 – Present – Magnetic Tape :

The most popular means of storing data until the mid-80s, Magnetic Tapes are a thin strip of long plastic with magnetized coating allowing for large amounts of data to be created, stored, and rapidly accessed.

1956 – Present – Hard Drive :

Capable of reserving up to 4.4MB, Hard Drives were revolutionary in data storage. Today, they are smaller, cheaper, faster, and are able to store way more data.

1969 – Present – Floppy Disk :

Floppy Disks provide read-only data storage.

1958 – 2000s – LaserDiscs:

As the first commercial optical disc storage medium, LaserDiscs are a home video format. They offer a feasible way to store video and image data.

1970 – 1980 – Compact Cassettes :

Remaining popular until the late 80s, Compact Cassettes used to store data in a few computers.

1979 – Present – Compact Disc (CDs) :

Smaller than LaserDiscs, CDs were originally exclusive to sound recordings and store fewer data.

1995 – Present – DVD :

Similar to a CD, DVDs use a different type of laser technology to store more data on the same amount of space as a CD.

2000 – Present – Flash Drive:

Considered one of the most efficient and significant innovations in data storage. Some Flash Drives can store as much as 256 GB.

2006 – Present – Blu-ray:

Uses shorter blue laser wavelengths to store more data than CDs and DVDs.

2006 – Present – Cloud Storage:

Cloud Storage is a subscription-based service that uses the internet to access your digital data.

2014 – Present – Cloud Hard Drives :

Cloud Hard Drives provide you with your own secure place to access your digital data.

The Future of Data Storage


Students at Hong Kong’s Chinese University have discovered that more than 900 TB of information stored on a hard drive can be stored on a single gram of bacteria.


While this discovery originally started off as a joke, using DNA as a hard drive provides us with a limitless storage space that we are able to fit all the world’s data on. Currently, this mode of storage is too time-consuming and expensive.


By reducing a single carbon crystal one atom at a time using nanomachinery, sand can hold over 1 billion megabytes of data.

Helium Drives:

Using helium instead of air, helium-filled drives use less power to spin the disks, running cooler and in turn, allowing you to pack more data onto each disk.

Holographic Data Storage:

By using layers of tiny holograms, Holographic Data Storage is DVD-sized disks that are able to store 500 GB of data.

Quantum Storage:

Scientists have been working on quantum storage in order to provide instant data syncing between two points anywhere. Right now this technology can only store tiny amounts of data for a very short amount of time (not even a day yet), but if it works and takes off, we could see instant data syncing between two points anywhere


Stored on sticky notes, Datastickies are able to store up to 32 GB of data.

Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) Drives:

Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) increases storage density using a magnetic storage data recording technology currently used in hard drives.

Liquid-State Storage:

It uses a compound known as vanadium dioxide to store data.

HAMR Drives:
Using a tiny laser blast to change magnetic properties, HAMR Drives allow more data to be stored per square inch of the drive.

Cassette Tapes:

Intended to replace Blu-ray and CDs, new developments for Cassette Tapes have led to a vacuum-forming technique allowing us to hold 148 GB of data per square inch of tape.

At Lifespan we believe that it is important to know where your data is at all times, which is why we provide certificates of destruction and sanitization outlining the destruction process, providing you with peace of mind. We have worked with the data storage changes and are always adapting our ways to make sure you’re always protected – no matter how your data is stored.

Author: Lifespan