what is data in computer

What is Data?

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Hello Friends! In this article, we are going to learn about Data and types. Specifically, we will focus on the answer to the question – What is Data in Computers?

So, without any delay let’s begin.

What is Data in a Computer?

Data is a sequence of characters or symbols that are stored and processed for analysis purposes. The computer data is also a stream of bits (0s and 1s) that are stored in the computer memory for further processing or translation.

These bits can be information in the form of text docs, images, videos, or some other type of data. This data is in a form that is perfect for movement and processing.

This data processing is done by the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and stored in the computer’s memory. Therefore, the data in the computer can be created, processed, and stored.

Types of Data

The data in computers can be categorized into three types- 

  1. Data at rest 
  2. Data in transit
  3. And, the data in use

Let us learn about these types in detail.

Data at Rest

When data is stored physically in digital form in the computer storage then that is data at rest. This storage can be in any form like cloud storage, archives, databases, file hosting services, etc. 

This data at rest is subject to malicious threats or accessing stored data digitally. To prevent such threats various organizations adopt DARP- data at rest protection.

This data at rest is further divided into two parts- structured and unstructured data. 

Structured data is the one that is easily searchable as it is highly organized and formatted. On the other hand, unstructured data can not be easily processed or analyzed as it is neither predefined nor organized.

Data in Use

Active data or the data in use is a term for information stored in a non-persistent state like in the computer’s RAM, CPU’s registers, or CPU cache. In other words, it is the data stored in computer memory. This data in use is also subject to threats therefore, various steps can be taken to protect it. Some of these steps include full memory encryption, enclaves, or cryptographic protocols.

Data in Transit

Any data in motion or data in flight is called data in transit. The data in transit is defined under two categories- the one that flows into a private network and the other that flows into an unknown or public network like the Internet.

In the case of data flow into a public network, it is quite risky to send or receive the information. This is because data is subject to high risks of theft or manipulation. Therefore, such data is advised to be encrypted. Other than this steps like implementing a robust network, choosing a data protection solution, etc. can be helpful too.

How is Data Stored?

The data on a computer can be stored in multiple ways. One way is to store it on the hard disk – this is for data at rest. Another way is to store in the RAM or CPU registers – for data in transit or data in use.

Other than these old methods, data is now stored on cloud storage where it is assembled in a very organized way. This data can be accessed anytime and the most fascinating thing is you can never run out of storage.

But with so many ways to store data, comes the risk of these sensitive data getting attacked by unknown sources.

Ways to Protect Data

Whichever form your data is in, it is important to always protect it from online hackers, malicious threats like viruses, or unseen attackers. Let us read in detail about some of these ways.

1. Encryption

This method makes data invisible to the attackers by converting it into a form that cannot be decrypted easily. Strong encryption methods like AES or RSA should be adopted for data interest.

2. Tokenization

This is another method where the sensitive data is replaced by non-sensitive ones called tokens. The tokens are a non-mathematical means of protecting data, unlike the encrypting methods. These are also preferred as they take much less data storage than encryption.

3. CPU-based key storage

The method of protecting data by storing keys inside CPU registers instead of the RAM is CPU-based key storage. This method might not be the most effective way but protects data from at least cold bot attacks. This process can be done by using Loop-Amnesia which modifies the OS of the computer. This in turn makes the CPU registers active to store encryption keys.

4. Enclaves

Limiting access to a portion of the network is called a network enclave or just an enclave. These are a type of boundary created around a network that cannot be accessed by the public. Thus this method safeguards the data inflow from any threats or online hacking.

5. Cryptographic protocols

Encrypting the data in use from the unknown system, that is being used for processing the same data is one effective way. In this tools like homomorphic encryption are used to encrypt data and make it safe from the unknown system.

6. Access controls

The most risk-reduction method to save the data from attackers is to control access. The fewer people know the less is the rate of attack on the data. Adopting data protection policies with the help of a data protection officer one can implement this method to save sensitive data of any organization.


To sum up, it can be said that today all the big organizations are working on a huge amount of data, each day. Be it banks, production companies, or e-commerce sites. Sensitive data flow is everywhere. So to maintain the sanctity of its data protection methods must be adopted.

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