What is data efficiency?

Data efficiency is the process of making data easier to use, manage and access. It’s a typical concern of large companies whose networks and extensive records can easily process the process of finding and using a specific piece of data a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. While data efficiency is largely a matter of setup and configuration – in other words, organizing the data in a way that makes it easier to find and obtain – it also has a significant hardware component. Outdated and inefficient hardware can make the process of extracting data from a hard drive or network much more complicated than necessary. Because of this, data efficiency is a trade-off; requires the right balance between cost and effectiveness.

Woman doing handstand with a computer

Where the data is stored has a good relationship with its overall efficiency. While solid-state hard drives are generally the most responsive places to store data because they can produce and open requested files faster than any other storage medium, their cost per gigabyte of storage is relatively high. Older storage media such as tape backup drives are quite cheap per gigabyte of storage, but the downside is that their access speed is quite slow. This cost versus benefit tradeoff is the crux of building efficient storage systems.

Data efficiency aims to make the most frequently used data on the network easier to access by placing it on high-cost, high-powered storage devices, while moving older archival data to slower, less expensive alternatives. By doing so, individuals working on the network have faster access to vital data without straining the organization’s resources and budget. Other techniques involved in making data storage more efficient include data compression, which is the process of reducing files to the smallest possible size, and deduplication, which uses software algorithms to eliminate duplicate files from the network.

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Compression and deduplication can free up valuable space on a network, further increasing efficiency. Like people, computers have a much easier time completing a search when the number of files searched is relatively small and the average file size is correspondingly modest. By regularly selecting unnecessary files and eliminating excess space in the files themselves, the network data efficiency is further improved.

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