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Technical Metadata

Technical Metadata

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In the digital age, data is a valuable asset for organizations across various industries. To manage and use data effectively, it’s important to understand technical metadata. This article will delve into the basics of metadata: its sources, classification, best practices, and strategies. We will also explore the importance and its role in data security.

What is Technical Metadata?

Technical metadata is information that describes the technical features of a digital item. This illustrates the structure of the data, its appearance, and its quality. It also explains the tools used to make, save, and view the data. For instance, an image file has information like file type (e.g., JPEG, PNG), resolution, color depth, and compression rate.

Sources of Technical Metadata

You can source it from various locations, including:

  1. File headers: Many file formats, such as JPEG and MP3, have metadata embedded within their headers.
  2. Database schemas: Database management systems store metadata in their schemas, describing tables, columns, and relationships.
  3. Application metadata: Software applications may generate and store metadata specific to their functionality and data processing.
  4. System logs: Operating systems and network devices maintain logs containing metadata about system events and performance.

Credentials and Mapping

Technical metadata often includes information about the credentials and permissions required to access the data. This ensures that only authorized users can view or modify sensitive information. Observing the links between data components aids in comprehending and examining intricate data collections more effectively.

Classification of Technical Metadata

You can classify metadata into several categories, including:

  1. Structural metadata: Describes the organization of a digital object. This can include the different sections in an e-book or the levels in a GIS dataset.
  2. Administrative metadata: This provides information on how to manage and care for a digital item. The information specifies the creation date of the item, its proprietor, and who has the permission to use it.
  3. Preservation metadata: Ensures the long-term accessibility and usability of a digital object by documenting its technical dependencies and migration history.

Best Practices and Strategies

To effectively manage metadata, consider the following best practices and strategies:

  1. Standardization: Adopt industry-standard metadata schemas and vocabularies to ensure consistency and interoperability.
  2. Automation: Implement automated metadata extraction and generation processes to reduce manual effort and improve accuracy.
  3. Integration: Ensure that you seamlessly integrate technical metadata with other types of metadata, such as descriptive and administrative metadata.
  4. Quality control: Regularly review and validate metadata to maintain its accuracy and completeness.
  5. Governance: Establish clear policies and procedures for managing metadata throughout its lifecycle.

Importance of Technical Metadata

It plays a vital role in various aspects of data management, including:

  1. Data discovery: Technical metadata helps users find and identify relevant data resources based on their technical characteristics.
  2. Interoperability: By providing a common language for describing technical properties, metadata enables data exchange and integration across different systems and platforms.
  3. Preservation: Metadata is essential for ensuring the long-term accessibility and usability of digital objects, especially as technologies evolve.
  4. Security: Metadata can include information about access controls, encryption, and other security measures, helping to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access or tampering.

Security Aspects of Technical Metadata

Technical metadata can contribute to data security in several ways:

  1. Access control: Metadata can specify user roles and permissions, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access sensitive data.
  2. Encryption: Metadata may include information about encryption algorithms and keys used to protect data at rest and in transit.
  3. Audit trails: Metadata can capture details about data access and modification, providing a record of who accessed what data and when.

Consider a digital photograph taken with a smartphone. The technical metadata for this image may include:

  • File format: JPEG
  • Resolution: 4032 x 3024 pixels
  • Color space: sRGB
  • Bit depth: 24 bits per pixel
  • Compression ratio: 10:1
  • Camera make and model: Apple iPhone 12
  • Lens focal length: 4.2mm
  • Aperture: f/1.6
  • Shutter speed: 1/120 sec
  • ISO speed: 100
  • GPS coordinates: 37.7749° N, 122.4194° W
  • Creation date and time: 2023-05-21T14:30:00Z

This information includes technical details and the image’s source. It can be useful for tasks such as editing, saving, and managing rights.


Technical metadata is a critical component of effective data management in the digital age. By learning about metadata basics, sources, classification, and best practices, organizations can fully utilize their data assets. Implementing strong technical metadata strategies not only improves data discovery and interoperability but also enhances data security and preservation.

DataSunrise provides high-quality data management solutions for organizations that require versatile tools for security, audit rules, masking, and compliance. Our experts help businesses use their data safely and securely, ensuring high levels of security and compliance. Contact DataSunrise for an online demo to see how our solutions can help improve your data management practices.




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