Updated: 06/30/2019 by Computer Hope
Binary 0's and 1's

In general, data is any set of characters that is gathered and translated for some purpose, usually analysis. It can be any character, including text and numbers, pictures, sound, or video. If data is not put into context, it doesn't do anything to a human or computer.

Within a computer's storage, data is a collection of numbers represented as bytes that are in turn composed of bits (binary digits) that can have the value one or zero. Data is processed by the CPU, which uses logical operations to produce new data (output) from source data (input).

Examples of computer data

Joe,Smith, 1234 Circle,SLC,UT,8404,8015553211
0143 0157 0155 0160 0165 0164 0145 0162 0040 0150 0157 0160 0145

How is data stored on a computer?

Data and information are stored on a computer using a hard drive or another storage device.

Mobile data

With smartphones and other mobile devices, data is a term used to describe any data transmitted over the Internet wirelessly by the device. See our data plan definition for further information.

Grammatical usage

The word data is technically a plural noun, as in, "The data are being processed." The singular form of data is datum, from the Latin word meaning "something given."

While using data as a plural noun is technically correct, in modern usage, data is also accepted as a singular noun, as in, "The data is being processed."

How do you pronounce data?

The pronunciation of "data" can vary depending on the part of the world of the person speaking the word. Globally, it's pronounced as day-ta, dat-ta, dah-ta, or dar-ta. In America, it's most often pronounced as both day-ta and dat-ta.

Because the pronunciation of data is regionally different, all pronunciations mentioned earlier are considered correct. However, we recommend using the pronunciation most often used in your area of residence.

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