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What Is Data Purging?

Chuck Ezell | | September 29, 2015

If you’ve worked with database technologies for any length of time, you may have heard of a process known as data purging.

Although it might seem that an organization would want to keep all its data for data mining and analysis, there is a finite amount of storage available to warehouse those bits and bytes. When data is not purged regularly, the tables in a database can grow so large that performance begins to deteriorate. Purging is an important aspect of database performance tuning.

Techopedia defines it as:

Methods that permanently erase and remove data from a storage space. There are many different strategies and techniques for data purging, which is often contrasted with data deletion. Deletion is often seen as a temporary preference, whereas purging removes the data permanently and opens up memory or storage space for other uses.

After an interview I did with Plotting Success, Abe Selig says:

Purging is just what it sounds like — completely erasing data from your system. Unlike a simple delete function, purging renders the information completely unsalvageable once it’s been purged.

Data Retention Policies

Most organizations employ a framework for defining their data by need or age. An organization may also have explicit data retention policies based on specific business and legal requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) or the SarbanesOxley Act of 2002 in the United States. Some government agencies also have data purging policies, some of which have been called into question recently.

Data purging can be an automatic process, but there are some instances in which administrators have to manually purge data from the database. The process can differ incrementally between systems. Oracle may have slightly different steps than SQL Server, for example.

Although data purging may be a simple process, any changes can affect other parts of the remaining database system, such as tables. It is important to ensure the system continues functioning properly. Purging can be particularly problematic for relational database systems that may rely on some pieces of data across tables.

Money and Resources Saved

Data purging, if properly completed on a routine basis, can accelerate the database reporting process and ultimately enable an organization to save money and other resources, such as hardware.

Does your organization need assistance in assessing the performance gains and cost savings associated with creating an effective data purging routine? Or do you need a performance tuning analysis? Datavail can help. Contact us to find out how.

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