What is Data Integrity?

Definition: Data integrity is the degree in which data sets can remain unaltered after changes or updates have been performed in the database. It is a concept that measures the accuracy of stored data.

What Does Data Integrity Mean?

The integrity of stored data is essential in the digital environment as most of the records and information produced by companies and organizations is now stored digitally, the risks of losing data even partially must be avoided as much as possible. System have many different methods to ensure data integrity, the most popular among them being error checking, validation procedures and backups.

On the other hand, all data should be interconnected. This way, if data is partially or entirely lost somewhere, it can be traced back to another point, therefore avoiding a complete loss. Data integrity can be compromised by external intrusions, damaged hardware, malware and viruses, human error, update failures or errors experienced during a transfer or a replication.

On the other hand, access to raw data or certain levels of data should be restricted by using authorization structures that allow or deny certain individuals to make changes or to erase data without previous clearance. Databases should be equipped to react properly to any of these scenarios, to protect data integrity.

Example

Idaho State University is one of the biggest colleges within the state. The University is currently migrating from a previous student management system to a new one called CollegeHelper. The system has many new capabilities that will allow teacher, students and college authorities to communicate and relate to each other more effectively. The first problem encountered by the university when they wanted to install CollegeHelper was that the databases of each system were very different.

This raised concerns about data integrity and caused the University to almost back out of the system’s implementation. Nevertheless, the company that created the system ensured the Board that data will be backed up reliably in order to maintain its integrity, before the migration starts. They said that even if they find a big problem during the process, worst case scenario will be the impossibility to migrate, but data will remain safely backed and accessible through the old system.