The development of nanostructure devices has opened the door to new DNA separation techniques and fundamental investigations. With advanced nanotechnologies, artificial gels (e.g. nanopillar arrays, nanofilters) can be manufactured with controlled and ordered geometries. This contrast with gels, where the pores are disordered and the range of available pore sizes is limited by the level of cross-linking and the mechanical properties of the gel. In this review, we recall the theories developed for free-solution and gel electrophoresis (extended Ogston model, biased reptation and entropic trapping) and from this perspective, suggestions for future concepts for fast DNA separation using nanostructures will be given.