Hundreds of megabytes of data have been encoded using DNA in the last few years by scientists. But more recently, not only has the media been stored perfectly in the synthetic variant of the genetic instructions that make up all organic life, but archived data files have been individually retrieved with zero errors, too.\nIt appears that Microsoft Research\u2019s target of a DNA storage system actually functioning within a data center by the turn of the decade, as reported by MIT\u2019s Technological Review a year ago, might be becoming increasingly viable.\nWe know of organic DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) through the study of genes that make up living organisms. Large amounts of information is held, and it lasts a long time \u2014 a 45,000 year old human femur bone was DNA-sequenced, or decoded, a few years ago, for example.\n\nIt\u2019s for those two principal reasons \u2014 data density and longevity \u2014 that researchers want to figure out ways to use a reimagined, synthetic form of DNA sequencing to store our ever-increasing quantities of data: More data should be held in higher densities than with traditional data center storage, and DNA particulars should last longer than those on solid state, tape, or drive. A 45,000-year or more lifespan could keep books, historical facts, art, and so on alive indefinitely.\nRandom access in large-scale DNA data storage\nScientists from Microsoft and University of Washington say they\u2019re making progress.\nIn 2015, I reported on Swiss experiments in which researchers said they were making advances in error correction \u2014 gaps in DNA sequences blight tests. False encoding of information, along with chemical degradation, had caused failures.\nThis new development, announced by Microsoft in February, is of 35 distinct files, consisting of a total of 200 MB of data that have been flawlessly written and, importantly, individually recovered. The tests \u201cdemonstrate a viable, large-scale system for DNA data storage and retrieval,\u201d Nature Biotechnology says in an abstract of the group\u2019s paper.\nThe fact that the files were individually recovered is the big deal here, they say. That\u2019s because in previous experiments, all of the data had to be pulled in order to rebuild just a subset, or just one individual file. In other words, the entire mass of DNA had to be decoded. That\u2019s time consuming \u2014 sequences need to be run multiple times for error correction reasons.\nThis current set of experiments, however, uses a kind of random access in the same way a PC does. It solves the issue, the team says. \u201cWe can recover each file individually and with no errors, using a random access approach.\u201d\nThe key to the advance has been in data validation and in writing an algorithm to speed up reading of the thread- or chain-like DNA.\n\u201cDNA data storage has the potential to complement or eventually replace tape, the densest [currently] commercially available storage medium for archival storage,\u201d the paper concludes.