Many people are confused between the concept of Data and Metadata. Though both are the form of data, they have their different use and different specifications. Where a Data can simply be a piece of information, a list of measurements, or observations, a story or a description of a certain thing. Metadata specifies the relevant information about the data which helps in identifying the nature and feature of the data.
Though there are not many differences between data and metadata, but in this article I have discussed the basic ones in the comparison chart shown below.
Content: Data Vs Metadata
|Basis for Comparison||Data||Metadata|
|Basic||Data is a set of facts and statistics can that be operated, referred or analyzed.||Metadata describes relevant information about the data.|
|Information||Data can or can not be informative.||Metadata is always informative.|
|Processing||Data may or may not have been processed.||Metadata is always a processed data.|
Definition of Data
Data is the one of which metadata talks about, it is in more descriptive, and is in more elaborated form. Data can be a collection of facts, words, observations, measurements, or description of something. The data can be operated to obtain some meaning full information out of it. It can be referred or analyzed to take some decisions.
In DBMS, the content in a relation (table) is the data of the database. The DML (Data Manipulation Language) statements add or update the data in a database. In programming terms if you declare a class and start creating instances of that class, then those instances becomes the persistent data for that class.
Let us take an easy example, if you create a random report on an MS Word, then the content in the document is data, and the name of file, storage description, type of file, a size of a file all becomes the metadata for your report data.
Definition of Metadata
Metadata is described as data about data. It means metadata contains the informative and relevant description about the original data. It helps a user to know the nature of the data and helps the user to take the decision whether he requires that data or not.
In DBMS, metadata is stored in the data dictionary, and each DDL statements updates metadata in the data dictionary. In DBMS, the metadata comprises the name of relations, the name of attributes their types, user constraints, integrity information and storage information.
Let us take metadata on a simpler account. For example, if you clicked any image from your camera, then the information related to the image as the size of image, pixels resolution, colors, in the image these all are metadata of your image. As it describes the information about your image, where image is your data.
Do you remember your library cards, it is also a sort of metadata? Where the books are the data and library card on which you issue books is metadata. Because it contains data about the book, like issue date, return date, Book number, author and publisher of the book. Taking one more, a movie is a data, and a movie poster is a metadata that gives information about that movie.
Key Differences Between Data and Metadata
- The main difference between data and metadata is that data is simply the content that can be a description of something, reading, measurements, observations, report anything. On the other hands, metadata describes the relevant information about the data.
- Some data is informative, some may not as data can be a raw data like numbers or characters which may not be informative. On the other hands, metadata is always informative as it is a reference to other data.
- Data may or may not be a processed data as raw data is always unprocessed data. But, metadata is considered as processed data.
Metadata carries relevant information about data. Hence, it creates a way to reach the correct data which in turn saves the time of searching the required data.