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Ask the Experts: How Much Data Can be Stored on an RFID Tag, and Is It Secure?

Storing information on an RFID tag allows you to access all kinds of records in real time without connecting to a reference database.

Different RFID tags have varying amounts of storage available. While the most commonly used configuration is a 96bit EPC ‘license plate,’ other configurations are also used. One common variation is the Alien Higgs 3 chip, which has a standard user memory of 512 bits, in addition to the 96 bit ‘license plate.’ The EPC memory is expandable from 96 bits to as much as 480 bits.

There are certain industries that require additional information. In those cases, a larger memory capacity is required. In aerospace and aviation, for example, a technician may want the tag to contain specific information about the item, such as maintenance history, and may need anywhere from 2Kbits to 66Kbits of data available.

Easily accessing additional information in the field can be critical, especially when users do not have access to reference databases to obtain the information they require about the item in real time. RFID tags allow users to get the information quickly and easily without connecting to external databases. Out in the field, miles from a cell tower, keeping all the critical data stored directly on an object makes sense.

One huge plus of RFID storage is that it’s dependable. The memory on the newest chips has become as robust as any other flash memory device – data retention for 30 years is typical – thus, there is no need to worry about the stability of that data, provided the tag is programmed properly. The main concern when using an RFID tag for maintenance information is that the tag data cannot automatically be relayed to the larger database. Unless a reconciliation process is established between the tag and the database, you run the risk of not knowing which information is the most up to date.

As for storing sensitive information, many tags contain access passwords to keep unauthorized users from viewing the data. None of the widely available UHF chips, however, have encryption in the data exchange. So while the data itself can be encrypted, the transmission of that data occurs in the open, meaning anyone could read the message. That said, they wouldn’t necessarily know what any of it meant.

When it comes to deciding whether RFID storage is right for you, there is no one right answer – it simply depends on the industry and specific requirements for the item in question.

Find out more about how an RFID solution can help make data access faster and easier for your specific industry here.

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