Science is now looking to nature - in particular fossilization - to find the best way to store data in a way that will make it last for millennia.
Researchers at the technology university ETH Zurich, Switzerland, believe the answer may lie in the data storage system that exists in every living cell: DNA.
So compact and complex are its strands, that just 1 gram of DNA is theoretically capable of containing all the data of internet giants such as Google and Facebook with room to spare.
The famous DNA double helix. In data storage terms, a gram of DNA would be capable of holding 455 exabytes, where one exabyte is equivalent to a billion gigabytes.
Human bones discovered in the Sima de los Huesos cave network in Spain show maternally inherited "mitochondrial" DNA that is 400,000 years old - a new record for human remains.
Fossilization has been known to preserve DNA in strands long enough to gain an animal's entire genome -- the complete set of genes present in a cell or organism.
The best preserved examples of DNA have come from frozen environments. The baby mammoth 'Lyuba' died 41,800 years ago and was discovered in 2007. So far, scientists have extracted and sequenced the genome of a 110,000-year-old polar bear and more recently a 700,000-year-old horse.
A single strand of human DNA, fully unraveled, would run from head to toe.
DNA is composed of just four bases: A, C, T, and G. They encode all genetic information in thread-like structures called chromosomes.