• An Erratum to this article was published on 06 July 2018

This article has been updated


Synthetic DNA is durable and can encode digital data with high density, making it an attractive medium for data storage. However, recovering stored data on a large-scale currently requires all the DNA in a pool to be sequenced, even if only a subset of the information needs to be extracted. Here, we encode and store 35 distinct files (over 200 MB of data), in more than 13 million DNA oligonucleotides, and show that we can recover each file individually and with no errors, using a random access approach. We design and validate a large library of primers that enable individual recovery of all files stored within the DNA. We also develop an algorithm that greatly reduces the sequencing read coverage required for error-free decoding by maximizing information from all sequence reads. These advances demonstrate a viable, large-scale system for DNA data storage and retrieval.

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  • 06 March 2018

    In the version of this article initially published, the references in the reference list were in the wrong order; the references have been renumbered as follows: 3 as 2; 5 as 3; 6 as 8; 7 as 9; 8 as 11; 9 as 6; 10 as 12; 11 as 5; 12 as 13; 13 as 7; 16 as 10; and no. 2, “Hoch, J.A. & Losick, R. Panspermia, spores and the Bacillus subtilis genome. Nature 390, 237–238 (1997),” has been deleted. In addition, on p.242, end of paragraph 2, the citation in “experiments7” has been deleted. The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


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We would like to thank B. Peck, P. Finn, S. Chen, A. Stewart, B. Arias, and E. Leproust from Twist Bioscience for supplying the DNA, suggesting protocol refinements, and offering input to our data analysis. We also thank J. Bornholt, K. D'Silva, and A. Levskaya for their help in the early stages of this project, and Y. Chou for her help in preparing samples for distribution. This work was supported in part by a sponsored research agreement by Microsoft, NSF award CCF-1409831 to L.C. and G.S. and by NSF award CCF-1317653 to G.S.

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Author notes

    • Konstantin Makarychev
    • , Miklos Z Racz
    • , Govinda Kamath
    • , Parikshit Gopalan
    •  & Sharon Newman

    Present addresses: VMware, Palo Alto, California, USA (P.G.); Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA (G.K. and S.N.); Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA (K.M.); Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA (M.Z.R.).


  1. Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

    • Lee Organick
    • , Christopher N Takahashi
    • , Sharon Newman
    • , Kendall Stewart
    • , Georg Seelig
    •  & Luis Ceze
  2. Microsoft Research, Redmond, Washington, USA.

    • Siena Dumas Ang
    • , Yuan-Jyue Chen
    • , Sergey Yekhanin
    • , Konstantin Makarychev
    • , Miklos Z Racz
    • , Govinda Kamath
    • , Parikshit Gopalan
    • , Bichlien Nguyen
    • , Hsing-Yeh Parker
    • , Cyrus Rashtchian
    • , Gagan Gupta
    • , Robert Carlson
    • , John Mulligan
    • , Douglas Carmean
    •  & Karin Strauss
  3. Department of Bioengineering Department, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

    • Randolph Lopez
  4. Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

    • Georg Seelig


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L.O., Y.J.C., and R.L. designed protocols and performed experiments. S.Y., S.D.A., K.M., M.Z.R., C.R., and P.G. designed and implemented the encoding and decoding pipeline. S.D.A., M.Z.R., G.K., Ke.S., and C.N.T., collected and analyzed data. B.N., C.N.T., S.N., G.G., H.Y.P., R.C., and J.M. assisted in designing and evaluating experiments. D.C., G.S., L.C., and Ka.S. designed experiments, analyzed data and supervised the work.

Competing interests

S.D.A., Y.-J.C., S.Y., K.M., M.Z.R., G.K., P.G., B.N., H.-Y.P., C.R., G.G., R.C., J.M., D.C., and K.S. are or were employees at Microsoft Research.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Luis Ceze or Karin Strauss.

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