Data Capturing, Storage, Retrieval, Deletion and Recovery

Data Capturing, Storage and Retrieval

To process data, we need to first input or capture the data. This is followed by its storage in a file or a database so that it can be used in the future. Whenever data is to be processed, it is first retrieved from the file or database so that we can perform further actions on it. 

(A) Data Capturing 

It involves the process of gathering data from different sources in the digital form. This capturing may vary from simple instruments like keyboard, barcode readers used at shopping outlets (Figure 1.12), comments or posts over social media, remote sensors on an earth orbiting satellite, etc. Sometimes, heterogeneity among data sources makes data capturing a complex task. 

(B) Data Storage 

It is the process of storing the captured data for processing later. Now-a-days data is being produced at a very high rate, and therefore data storage has become a challenging task. However, the decrease in the cost of digital storage devices has helped in simplifying this task. There are numerous digital storage devices available in the market like as shown in Figure 1.7. 

Data keeps on increasing with time. Hence, the storage devices also require to be upgraded periodically. In large organisations, computers with larger and faster storage called data servers are deployed to store vast amount of data. Such dedicated computers help in processing data efficiently. However, the cost (both hardware and software) of setting up a data server as well as its maintenance is high, especially for small organisations and startups. 

(C) Data Retrieval 

It involves fetching data from the storage devices, for its processing as per the user requirement. As databases grow, the challenges involved in search and retrieval of the data in acceptable time, also increase. Minimising data access time is crucial for faster data processing.

Data Deletion and Recovery 

One of the biggest threats associated with digital data is its deletion. The storage devices can malfunction or crash down resulting in the deletion of data stored. Users can accidentally erase data from storage devices, or a hacker or malware can delete the digital data intentionally.

Deleting digitally stored data means changing the details of data at bit level, which can be very time consuming. Therefore, when any data is simply deleted, its address entry is marked as free, and that much space is shown as empty to the user, without actually deleting the data. 

In case data gets deleted accidentally or corrupted, there arises a need to recover the data. Recovery of the data is possible only if the contents or memory space marked as deleted have not been overwritten by some other data. Data recovery is a process of retrieving deleted, corrupted and lost data from secondary storage devices. 

There are usually two security concerns associated with data. One is its deletion by some unauthorised person or software. These concerns can be avoided by limiting access to the computer system and using passwords for user accounts and files, wherever possible. There is also an option of encrypting files to protect them from unwanted modification. 

The other concern is related to unwanted recovery of data by unauthorised user or software. Many a times, we discard our old, broken or malfunctioning storage devices without taking care to delete data. We assume that the contents of deleted files are permanently removed. However, if these storage devices fall into the hands of mischief-mongers, they can easily recover data from such devices; this poses a threat to data confidentiality. This concern can be mitigated by using proper tools to delete or shred data before disposing off any old or faulty storage device.