Resource: Articles

What Is The Data Lifecycle And How Does It Shape Security?

To understand how to protect and recover data it is important to know how it is generated, used and disposed of, as well as how your business may be different.

data recovery - data life cycle

As companies become more digitally focused and more versatile, the question of data security becomes ever more essential, as the best approach for data recovery is preventing data from being lost in the first place.

A preventative approach is ideal, and many companies are hiring specialists to help them achieve their data security goals, but one important aspect of protecting data is understanding how it is used and transmitted throughout your system to do business.

This is what is known as the data lifecycle, or the stages of data from its creation through to its use and then its final storage and destruction.

There are various ways to interpret the data lifecycle, but the most popular two are an eight-stage process exploring primarily how data is used, and a five-stage process that is somewhat more general.

We will provide information on both cycles here, but it is important to note that whilst some phases will overlap, and in some data management processes certain phases will take place at different times.

The Five-Stage Process

The five-stage process is the stages that all data will go through on a broad level. The middle three stages are cyclical, with a definitive first stage and a last stage.

The five stages of the data life cycle are as follows:

  • Creation
  • Storage
  • Usage And Sharing
  • Archival
  • Deletion

The first stage is quite broad, as data can be generated from a wide variety of sources, from information inputted into a database directly, to feedback from applications, smart devices and surveys. 

However it is generated, it should be collected according to your business’ data protection policy and managed within the auspices of data protection legislation.

The second phase is storage, which involves encryption and other parts of your data security infrastructure, meeting privacy requirements, avoiding data loss through backups and redundancy, and protection against illicit access.

The third phase is when data is available for business use, from basic visualisation and analysis to its use in machine learning and data mining processes for both internal and external use.

The fourth phase is archival, where data is securely stored if needed for legal reasons, with a clear strategy for how, and for how long data will be archived.

Finally, at the end of the lifecycle, data is securely destroyed and purged from archives when it is no longer required by the organisations and has passed any required retention periods.

The Eight-Stage Process

The eight-stage process has many similar stages to the five-stage process, but removes the definitive end-stage of the latter and emphasises how data at the end of the lifecycle shapes the start of the process.

These eight stages are as follows:

  • Generation
  • Collection
  • Processing
  • Storage
  • Management
  • Analysis
  • Visualisation
  • Interpretation

The first three phases are identical to the creation phase and the first one focuses on the data generated both intentionally through surveys and as a byproduct of the myriad of processes that make up your business.

The next phase is how this data enters the data management pipeline, whilst processing is how it is converted for easy use and storage by other parts of the business, such as by digitising a form.

Storage is identical to the storage phase above, and management is how that information is retrieved, encrypted and stored throughout the project.

The last three phases link to the usage phase of the five-step process, with analysis being the search for insights, visualisation the creation of ways to make information easier to communicate to others, and interpretation is the presentation of what that data means through the lens of experts.

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