Data processing means manipulation of data by a computer. It includes the conversion of raw data to machine-readable form, flow of data through the CPU and memory to output devices, and formatting or transformation of output. Any use of computers to perform defined operations on data can be included under data processing. In the commercial world, data processing refers to the processing of data required to run organizations and businesses efficiently.
Used specifically, data processing may refer to a discrete step in the information processing cycle in which data is acquired, entered, validated, processed, stored, and output, either in response to queries or in the form of routine reports; the processing is the step that organizes the information in order to form the desired output. Used in a more general sense, data processing may also refer to the act of recording or otherwise handling one or more sets of data, and is often performed with the use of computers. The word data is commonly used to mean "information" and often suggests large amounts of information in a standardized format. Data may consist of letters, numbers, equations, dates, images, and other material, but does not usually include entire word.
Data Processing vs Information Processing
One of the key points about the term data processing is that it is used by some synonymously with the term information processing, while others make a distinction between the two. In most cases, however, the word data is used to mean the original form of the output, while information is meant to define data that has been organized or altered in some way. In other words, a distinction is being made between "data", which is raw material, and "information", which has undergone some processing: the two are being treated as distinct, with data preceding information.