Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Exploring The World of Physical Databases


With the advent of search engines and the internet, a seemingly endless amount of data is available to the average person. But despite the exponential rise in online storage capacity, much of our information remains unindexed and unavailable to digital services.

This data primarily resides in what could be considered “physical databases” – the combined paper, analog media, and photographic storage archives that exist outside of the internet realm. While humanity is uploading about 2.5 exabytes (or 2,621,440 terabytes) of new digital information online every day, less progress is being made in bringing these older (but no less vital) records into the modern age.

Whether available through public institutions like libraries or filed away in private repositories, the issue is that this information doesn’t appear when using online resources. Numerous articles detail the labor intensive process involved in digitizing historical documents, and the slow moving transition to electronic medical records in the healthcare industry demonstrates how massive of an undertaking it can be. Because of this delay, searchers don’t have the full extent of knowledge available to them, hamstringing research and other critical projects.

But despite the challenges associated with bringing “analog” information online, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Team members can find essential information in seconds compared to the hours spent sifting through paperwork or microfilm reels, and long term preservation becomes a less daunting task. The Data Vault offers several solutions to help with this process, regardless of industry or line of business:

Document Scanning: By far the most straightforward way of transferring information from physical to digital formats, this process is appropriate for almost any media. Even blueprints, microfilm reels, and x-rays are candidates for this kind of conversion. Optical character recognition takes things to the next level, where instead of a photographic PDF of text, search engines can index the writing for later discovery.

Detailed Indexing: Already have large amounts of paperwork in storage, but don’t want to incur the full costs of scanning deep archives? File and box level indexing can be a solution, where an in depth description is digitally attached to individual pages and containers. This offers an economical way of narrowing wide searches down to just a few potential sources.

Both of these solutions can help manage the move from physical to digital databases, enhancing your ability to efficiently find the necessary information. While it will be a long time (if ever) before all historical information has been converted to a digital format, The Data Vault is ready to help make your project a reality today. Contact us and one of our experts will be happy to review your unique situation and suggest ways to reach organizational goals!


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