What is the difference between data and a document?

Let’s ask the dictionary to answer this one:

  • Data: The quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, which may be stored and transmitted in the form of electrical signals and recorded on magnetic, optical, or mechanical recording media.
  • Document: A piece of written, printed, or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record.

Well, that still sounds complicated right. We mean that data is any fragment of information available on your laptop, tablet, mobile phone or any other device. For example: names, contact details, any words or numbers, statistics, logs and metadata. And also, any file, document, excel, powerpoint, application, note, song, picture or video. Every little dot of information is data.

A document is a collection of sorted data on a data carrier (for example, your laptops harddrive or USB stick or, even a piece of paper). Pretty much any word document, powerpoint, note, and email available on your laptop. So, if you print any data, you sort it on a piece of paper and voilà, you got yourself a document.

O, and if you may wonder: our data retention schedules apply to both documents and data.