Optical data storage has had a major impact on daily life since its introduction to the market in 1982. Compact discs (CDs), digital versatile discs (DVDs), and Blu-ray discs (BDs) are universal data-storage formats with the advantage that the reading and writing of the digital data does not require contact and is therefore wear-free. These formats allow convenient and fast data access, high transfer rates, and electricity-free data storage with low overall archiving costs. The driving force for development in this area is the constant need for increased data-storage capacity and transfer rate. The use of holographic principles for optical data storage is an elegant way to increase the storage capacity and the transfer rate, because by this technique the data can be stored in the volume of the storage material and, moreover, it can be optically processed in parallel. This Review describes the fundamental requirements for holographic data-storage materials and compares the general concepts for the materials used. An overview of the performance of current read–write devices shows how far holographic data storage has already been developed.