What Is Data Synchronization and Why Is It Important?

Having multiple data sets is essential, especially when you consider the possibility of data loss. But managing multiple data sets manually has its consequences. The inconsistency from changing individual data assets can create security loopholes and operational setbacks. Data synchronization helps secure and manage multiple data sets without hassle.

So what is data synchronization? How does it work? And what are its benefits?

What Is Data Synchronization?

Data synchronization is the process of keeping your data sets consistent and accurate across different applications so they are identical, regardless of their location. Maintaining data uniformity across multiple applications manually isn’t the best approach. No matter how careful you try to be, errors can occur in the process. Data synchronization is an automated process of keeping your sets consistent.

Having them in different locations increases the chances of discrepancies. As you interact with one data set, you may alter it either intentionally or accidentally, thereby making it different from the others. Inaccuracies between the various data assets could expose your system to cyber threats, or mean backups become useless.

How Does Data Synchronization Work?

Data on Computer Screen

Data synchronization performs based on the parameters you set on it beforehand. You must connect the different applications in which you store your data sets for the synchronization to run a full cycle.

Data synchronization works in two major ways: One-way data sync and two-way data sync.

In one-way data sync, the changes you make in the source application trigger changes in the downstream application. As the name suggests, such changes are only possible this way and not any other way. Your source application is more or less your most critical asset. Any breach or threat to it endangers all your downstream assets and causes sensitive data exposure. You must secure it diligently to prevent attacks.

For instance, in the event of a ransomware attack, if the attacker alters your source application, they alter all applications downstream.

The two-way data sync recognizes changes in both the source and downstream applications. When you make changes in either system, they reflect in the other. In this case, both systems are of the same importance or value, and you must prioritize their security equally to secure your database.

Regardless of the model you adopt, data synchronization works in the following steps.

1. Trigger Update

Having set your preferred update trigger, changes you make to a particular data set push an update across all data sets. The system checks your data continuously and initiates an update once it detects a modification.

2. Identify Information

Data synchronization isn’t an overhaul of your entire data set. When an update alert goes off, the system identifies the specific information that you have changed, and implements those changes in the same areas of other applications.

3. Choose Frequency

Data synchronization occurs synchronously or asynchronously, based on your choice. In the synchronous mode, changes reflect in real-time, leaving no gap for discrepancies. If you choose the asynchronous route, the changes will occur after a set time; every hour, for instance.

Although the synchronous mode is the best due to its real-time value, it’s more cost-intensive than the asynchronous mode.

4. Align Format

HTML Codes on Computer Screen

In some cases, the new information may have a different format from the existing information in other data sets. The incoming information goes through a formatting process, so it’s consistent with the old information.

5. Confirm Update

Upon successful data synchronization, the system displays an update confirmation message. The absence of this message indicates a glitch in the process. The system may retry the update several times. If it’s still unsuccessful, it’ll send an error message to you, identifying the reasons for synchronization failure.

Why Is Data Synchronization Important?

Data synchronization plays a key role in database management. Implementing it correctly offers several benefits to the success of your system.

Secure Access Control

Security is at the core of data synchronization. You need to be mindful of the people who have access to your data, so they don’t alter or compromise it in any way.

Data synchronization allows you to make certain data sets available to users on your network in a separate application without giving them unrestricted access to your entire network. Even while they use the data set in a separate location, it remains the same as other sets for consistency.

Provide Data Breach Notifications

Sometimes, a cyberattack can be happening in one area of your system without your knowledge, especially if you don’t make use of that asset often.

Data synchronization helps in identifying and responding to data breaches and attacks within your system. If a hacker makes any changes to a data set in a separate application, the system will initiate an update in the data sets across the various applications including those that you interact with often. This will bring any foul play to your notice, so you can launch an incident response plan quickly.

Enhance Data Availability

Your ability to access a piece of data when you need it enhances your efficiency at work. Since data synchronization makes your data in different locations accurate, you can use the available and most convenient location for you at any given time. In the event of a network failure or downtime, you can access your data locally.

Prevent Data Loss

Laptop on a Desk

Losing a single data set puts you in a tight corner, especially if you have no backup to fall back on. Data synchronization prevents data loss by providing updated multiple data sets in different locations. If you lose data in a particular application, you don’t have to worry as you have the same data in several other locations.

Promote Collaboration

Having consistent data sets across multiple locations creates healthy collaborations when you are working with other people. Everyone will have access to the same information about a project in view. When you make any changes to your data source, the changes reflect in other team members’ applications, leaving no one in the dark.

Methods of Data Synchronization

There are four major data synchronization methods.

1. File Synchronization

The file synchronization method is very fast in updating data across multiple locations and prevents redundancy when dealing with identical files. Offering a high level of accuracy, it’s most effective for home backups.

2. Version Control

If you are working with other people and you want them to be able to make changes to the data sets in their applications, version control synchronization is your best bet. Users can edit the data simultaneously and the changes each user makes will reflect in all data sets.

3. Distributed File Systems

Man Coding on a Computer

This method of data synchronization operates on a top-down model. You must connect all other applications to a single application which is the source. Changes in the source application will reflect in the other applications that you connect to it.

4. Mirror Computing

Mirror Computing adopts a source-to-target approach. It makes the exact copy of a data set available to only one other location.

Implement Better Security With Data Synchronization

A considerable chunk of the work we do in the digital space revolves around data. Maintaining data integrity is important as flawed data produces flawed results. You can take advantage of data synchronization to keep all your data sets accurate.

And you can secure your data assets better when they are consistent by implementing a single security framework across multiple applications. In the long run, you’ll save time and resources.

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