The demand for data storage is increasing fast

As museums and galleries among others collect ever more artefacts they need digital archives their ever-growing collection of pictures, audio and film.

Making digital copies of those historical sources is vital as the original copies degrade over time, and will, one day, be lost forever, according to Ian Crawford of the Imperial War Museum.

“When you’ve got the only copy, you want confidence that your storage system is reliable,” he says. “We’re now looking at objects themselves and scanning in 3D – that can generate very large files.”

But it is not only museums that are facing the need for more storage space.

Businesses are buying more space for back-up data, hospitals need somewhere to store records, government needs a place to stash increasing amounts of information.

LTO (Linear Tape Open) is one form of storage that can pack a lot into a small space and one tape can hold the same amount of data as almost 300 standard smartphones.

A London company has also been experimenting with data storage that uses lasers to burn tiny holograms into a light-sensitive polymer. It can handle temperatures from -14C to 160C.

Magnetic tape needs to be kept between 16C and 25C and needs replacing every 1 years.

The ability of AI to trawl through vast amounts of data has made keeping that data even more important – there could be something valuable lurking there. That has so far been missed.