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Data conversion is the conversion of one data format into another. It is a technical process mostly done by software, although rarely hardware or human intervention is used. The sole purpose of the data conversion is to enable interoperability and to maintain all of the data with embedding as much as information as possible. Data conversion can be simple or complex based on the environment and data formats involved. Data is handled by the operating system and different applications in different manners, so in order to use the same data for other operating systems or applications, data must be converted.
Data conversion is only possible if the target format is able to support the same data features and constructs of the source data. If the format specifications are not known, reverse engineering can be used to convert the data. In most cases, this would only lead to a close approximation of the original specification. In data conversion, information can easily be removed by application or conversion agent. However adding the information is an uphill task. Data conversion is performed in most cases in a rule-based fashion. The rules can be established by the operating system, application, the programming language or even by the programmer. Successful data conversion helps in the smooth functionality of applications dependent on the concerned data.
However, data conversion can be a painstaking task, especially in the case of complex data formats. If not done properly, it could also lead to loss of information.