Modeling the Future of Archival Storage Systems


The importance of archival storage has increased with the growing demand for cost-effective long term data storage. Existing storage technologies like tape, hard disk drives, and solid state disks can meet today’s demand for archival capacity and performance, but recently their pace of development has decelerated below their historical norms. In order to meet the ever-growing demand for archival storage, novel storage technologies are in development that will contend for their own place in archival storage systems.


The long-term viability of existing and novel storage technologies depends on how well suited they are for the demands of archival systems in the long term. We have created a simulation model to examine the relationships between different candidate storage technologies for archival systems and to define each technology’s role within the competitive archival storage market over the long term. We enumerate the economic advantages of each storage technology relative to capacity, reliability, and workload for archival storage systems, and we describe how each technology can preserve its advantages and defend is position relative to other candidate archival storage technologies. We argue that novel storage technologies like synthetic DNA and glass will deliver decisive advantages in terms of cost, reliability, and scalability. Novel technologies will therefore dominate existing and traditional storage technologies for archival storage systems. Nevertheless, existing storage technologies will each retain a niche role for archival storage systems that suits their design.

Publication date:
September 2022

James Byron

Archival Storage

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Full paper text: PDF

Bibtex entry

  author       = {James Byron},
  title        = {Modeling the Future of Archival Storage Systems},
  institution  = {University of California, Santa Cruz},
  month        = sep,
  year         = {2022},
Last modified 21 May 2023