Whether you’re trying to house your Mulroney-worthy shoe collection or a company’s records, it seems like the available storage space is never enough.

Modern technology still hasn’t conquered the shoe problem, but some high-tech companies are working to make it easier to store data. At NEC Research Institute in Princeton, N.J., senior research scientist Richard Linke and his colleagues are developing a method for transferring data to crystals using holography. Linke makes small changes in the optical properties of the crystals by “writing” data into them. He divides a laser light into a signal beam, which carries the data, and a reference beam, which etches the data into the crystal. Linke says the crystals could store up to 1,000 times more data than today’s hard drives. “If I succeed, it may well change the future storage technology of choice,” says Linke.

Storage Technology (StorageTek), based in Louisville, Colo., is also thinking of new ways to help its clients store their digital information. Among the company’s offerings is an innovative pay-as-you-use service, similar to the method electric and phone companies use to charge their customers. Monthly rates range from less than one cent to several cents per megabyte. The types of service include: onsite management of a company’s data storage; remote monitoring, in which the storage system software and hardware is based at the customer’s site but is monitored from afar by StorageTek; and remote management, which is Internet- or network-based storage that StorageTek manages through a partner’s Internet data centre. For more information, visit www.storagetek.com.