Data Conversion refers to the conversion from one format to another of computer data. Data is encoded in several ways in the computer environment – hardware reads a certain type of data, operating systems handle another while other computer applications can handle data in other different formats. When any variable is changed the data has to be converted to a format corresponding to the environment by which it has to be read/ manipulated – for instance by a different application or OS. Even changing versions of software could demand data to be converted to a new structure.

Data conversion can vary in complexity from simple text file conversionsΒ  involving character I miss you in Spanish encoding to complex ones like office file format conversions, image and audio file format conversion etc. Data sometimes can be converted seamlessly or by using special programs written for the purpose or it might happen in stages involving export/ import procedures. There are conversion programs that recognize data in various formats and can store them as output in different formats too.

Some basic concepts to be understood in data conversion include:

While information can be easily dropped by a computer it is difficult to add extra information.
Computer can add on information in a rule-based manner
“Upsampling” data makes way for adding more information; the actual adding has to be done by human intervention
Example – while it is a simple matter to convert a color image to grayscale the vice versa can be a complex process.

The goal of data conversion is to retain all of the data and the embedded information too. In order for it to be successful there should be a complete understanding of the source as well as the target data formats. When this is not possible reverse engineering can be resorted to before data conversion happens.

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