Types Of Big Data

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11st May, 2022
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07th Dec, 2016
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Types Of Big Data

Big Data is creating a revolution in the IT field, every year the use of analytics is increasing drastically every year. We are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day hence the field is expanding in B2C apps. Big Data has entered almost every industry today and is a dominant driving force behind the success of enterprises and organizations across the Globe.

What is Big Data?

“Data” is defined as ‘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’, as a quick google search will show.

The concept of Big Data is nothing complex; as the name suggests, “Big Data” refers to copious amounts of data which are too large to be processed and analyzed by traditional tools, and the data is not stored or managed efficiently. Since the amount of Big Data increases exponentially- more than 500 terabytes of data are uploaded to Facebook alone, in a single day- it represents a real problem in terms of analysis.

Before we jump into the article, let's have a visual introduction on what is Big data and its types. (Structured Data, Semi-Structured & Unstructured Data)

Types of Big Data:

Classification is essential for the study of any subject. So Big Data is widely classified into three main types, which are-

Types of Big Data:

  • Structured
  • Unstructured
  • Semi-structured

1. Structured data

Structured Data is used to refer to the data which is already stored in databases, in an ordered manner. It accounts for about 20% of the total existing data and is used the most in programming and computer-related activities.

There are two sources of structured data- machines and humans. All the data received from sensors, weblogs, and financial systems are classified under machine-generated data. These include medical devices, GPS data, data of usage statistics captured by servers and applications and the huge amount of data that usually move through trading platforms, to name a few.

Human-generated structured data mainly includes all the data a human input into a computer, such as his name and other personal details. When a person clicks a link on the internet, or even makes a move in a game, data is created- this can be used by companies to figure out their customer behavior and make the appropriate decisions and modifications.

Let’s understand Structured data with an example.

Top 3 players who have scored most runs in international T20 matches are as follows:

Structured data in Big Data Types

PlayerCountryScoresNo of Matches played               
Brendon McCullumNew Zealand                                2140                                          71                   
Rohit SharmaIndia    2237         90
Virat Kohli India     2167         65


2. Unstructured data

While structured data resides in the traditional row-column databases, unstructured data is the opposite- they have no clear format in storage. The rest of the data created, about 80% of the total account for unstructured big data. Most of the data a person encounters belong to this category- and until recently, there was not much to do to it except storing it or analyzing it manually.

Unstructured data is also classified based on its source, into machine-generated or human-generated. Machine-generated data accounts for all the satellite images, the scientific data from various experiments and radar data captured by various facets of technology.

Human-generated unstructured data is found in abundance across the internet since it includes social media data, mobile data, and website content. This means that the pictures we upload to Facebook or Instagram handle, the videos we watch on YouTube and even the text messages we send all contribute to the gigantic heap that is unstructured data.

Examples of unstructured data include text, video, audio, mobile activity, social media activity, satellite imagery, surveillance imagery – the list goes on and on.

The following image will clearly help you to understand what exactly Unstructured data is

Unstructured data in Big Data Types

The Unstructured data is further divided into –

  • Captured
  • User-Generated data

a. Captured data:

It is the data based on the user’s behavior. The best example to understand it is GPS via smartphones which help the user each and every moment and provides a real-time output.

b. User-generated data:

It is the kind of unstructured data where the user itself will put data on the internet every movement. For example, Tweets and Re-tweets, Likes, Shares, Comments, on Youtube, Facebook, etc.

3. Semi-structured data:

The line between unstructured data and semi-structured data has always been unclear since most of the semi-structured data appear to be unstructured at a glance. Information that is not in the traditional database format as structured data, but contains some organizational properties which make it easier to process, are included in semi-structured data. For example, NoSQL documents are considered to be semi-structured, since they contain keywords that can be used to process the document easily.

Big Data analysis has been found to have definite business value, as its analysis and processing can help a company achieve cost reductions and dramatic growth. So it is imperative that you do not wait too long to exploit the potential of this excellent business opportunity.

Diagram showing Semi-structured data

Semi-structured data in Big Data Types

Difference between Structured, Semi-structured and Unstructured data

      Factors     Structured data      Semi-structured data    Unstructured data
FlexibilityIt is dependent and less flexibleIt is more flexible than structured data but less than flexible than unstructured dataIt is flexible in nature and there is an absence of a schema
Transaction ManagementMatured transaction and various concurrency techniqueThe transaction is adapted from DBMS not maturedNo transaction management and no concurrency
Query performanceStructured query allow complex joiningQueries over anonymous nodes are possibleAn only textual query is possible
TechnologyIt is based on the relational database tableIt is based on RDF and XMLThis is based on character and library data

Big data is indeed a revolution in the field of IT. The use of Data analytics is increasing every year. In spite of the demand, organizations are currently short of experts. To minimize this talent gap many training institutes are offering courses on Big data analytics which helps you to upgrade skills set needed to manage and analyze big data. If you are keen to take up data analytics as a career then taking up Big data training will be an added advantage
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