The Role of Data Preservation in Enhancing the Efficiency of Secretarial Function in the Banking Sector


Books and Journals were read and information got from these books concerning data preservation were grouped into the following headings:

  1. Meaning of data preservation
  2. Problems of data preservation
  3. Method of data preservation
  4. Data preservation and secretarial function

Meaning of Data Preservation

In the light of the above exposition, data preservation which has been an aspect of data processing could be defined thus:

The use of suitable media for a storing and reviewing data as and when required. Off line storage usually, takes the form of magnetic tape where as on-line (immediately accessible) storage employ magnetic disc because of its direct access capability. By Anderson, (2004)

Data preservation usually relates to a computer’s backing storage, but it is also argued that other suitable media could be used for preserving data. The medium chosen for data preservation depend, upon the circumstances, but whatever is used, it must be capable of storing large volumes of data as so filing cabinets in a conventional clerical system.

Data preservation is importance because the future growth of a business limit depends amongst other things on the preserved data of the past. These are used for future references to access the present situation and plan ahead for the future.


Problems of Data Preservation

The most familiar problems in data preservation are media failure or deterioration and rapid changes in computer hardware and software that make older systems obsolete on a regular basic. Efforts to preserve digital information have always been challenged by the relative instability and short life of most data storage media. Media failure and undetected deterioration of storage media remains a problems for data preservation, but the issue of media longevity has moved into the background.

Although there is no “Permanent” data storage medium that meets standards of longevity and durability established for “Permanent paper” or microfilm, improvements in magnetic and optical media reduce the frequency at which digital materials must be copied to new media in order to prevent deterioration or loss.

Media deterioration and loss remain a problem when digital materials are not integrated into systematic management and maintenance programs and where there is adequate system of security and back-up.

A far more challenging problem is hardware and software obsolescence. Information technology continues to evolve and each new generation of hardware and software tends to displace the hardware and software of the previous generation. At its most basic level, this means that even if digital objects are copied perfectly and transferred to new storage media, it may be impossible to retrieve, or interpret these objects because of incompatibilities between the systems used to create them originally and the current generation of systems used to retrieve these objects.


Method of Data Preservation

Data preservation method varies from one organization to another depending on the circumstances and information flow of the organization. A comparison of data preservation methods point out the similarities and differences between the requirements of each system. No matter how data is handled, one should remember that a system is a logical sequence of related activities that comprises the entire unit or operation. It is pertinent to note that there are generally three basic categories of data preservation method available for information end-users.

These are:

  • Manual method
  • Electrometrical method
  • Computer method


Manual Method

The manual method of data preservation is the oldest method. For, centuries, man lived on earth without keeping records. But as social organization such as tribes began to form, it became necessary for man to adjust. The complexities of tribal life required man to remember more details. Method of counting, based on the biological fact that man has fingers were thus developed. Man equally used stone tablets, paper scrolls and walls in preserving data for future references.

In manual data preservation, human effort is combined with simple office tools to perform one operation at a time. In modern times, manual data preservation method in use can be discussed using the following sub-heading:

  1. Filing

According to the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, A file is a collection of cards, documents, papers and newspapers for reference purposes; anything used for keeping such a collection together can still be regarded as a file or folder. It is the practice in offices to receive letters, reports circular and other documented information daily from both within and outside the business organization.

Furthermore, filing is the classifying and preserving of records according to a definite arrangement so that they can be found when needed, files constitute the memory of a business.

Azuka, (2010), defines filing as a systematic arrangement and keeping of business correspondence and records so that they may be found and delivered when needed for future reference. Filling is therefore, a form of preserving data.

Onibonoje, (2004), adds that filing is the orderly collection, arrangement and safe-keeping of information and prompt retrieval of such information as and when required for any decision.

Files may be kept in one location (centralized) or kept in various departments or branches (decentralized). There are basically five systems of filing, they are:

  • Vertical filing
  • Horizontal filing
  • Suspension filing
  • Lateral filing
  • Plan filing
  1. Vertical Filing: In the system, the papers or documents placed into files, which are arranged vertically (upright or standing position). The files are effectively displayed with title strips or labels on the top edges. The file can be stored in cabinet drawers, racks and shelves which serve to protect the files from accidental damage.
  2. Horizontal Filing: This filing system indicates the horizontal or flat position of files. Under these system papers, folders and files are placed one on top of another on shelves or in shallow drawers. This systems is particularly suitable for drawing maps and other documents which cannot be folded or perforated for fixing into files and which are best stored flat.
  3. Suspension Filing: This is a filing system where folders may be suspended vertically from metal runners fitted inside cabinet drawers. The actual correspondence is filed, not directly into the suspended files, but in inner folders, this is to prevent them from slipping or sliding down, giving a disorderly appearance to the drawer and making it difficult for a person to file in a file that has slipped to the bottom of the drawer.

Duplicating stencils required for future use are commonly filed in a cabinet specially made for the purpose and using the vertical suspension system.

  1. Lateral Filing: Lateral filing is a system of storing files side by side, rather like books and on a shelf. The files are generally suspended from rails placed laterally in cupboards, racks or an open shelving. They are fitted with title holders which can normally be adjusted for the required angle of vision. Where accommodation is limited lateral installation are ideal as space does not have to be allowed for the opening of drawers and they can be built up as high as the ceiling will allow.
  2. Plan Filling: Plans and drawings may be stored horizontally in flat drawers or vertically in storage cabinets where the drawings are arranged in an upright position. Vertical cabinets contain compartments with wave-like dividers enabling large drawings to stand erect without buckling. Each compartment has its own indexing strip so that the drawings can be easily identified.

Having discussed about the various manual methods of preserving data, it is imperative also to discuss how preserved data or documents can be traced when they are removed from their storage facility. One of the most frequent sources of delay and in convenience in filing is to find that a file has been remove from its place in the cabinet and a lengthy, irritating search all over the office is necessary to trace it. This can be avoided by the use of the following:

  1. Absent Card: The absent card is inserted in the place of the file to give details of the file remove. An absent card is used to record the number or name of the file taken, the date taken, the initials and signature of the person to whom it is issued and the date returned. It remains in the cabinet until the file is replaced, providing a check on the where abouts of the file.
  2. Suspended Absent Wallet: Another systems used tracing files is the suspended absent wallet. In this system, the wallet is suspended with the cabinet (pocket) from which a file is removed. A completed card showing the number or name of the file, the name of the person to whom it has been issued, the department concerned and the date, is placed in the wallet and retained until the file is returned. This absent wallet, whilst providing a check on the where abouts of the file has the further advantages of:-
  3. Providing a recep tacks for further filing of papers or documents whilst the file is out, and
  4. Determining at a glance which files are out, and if required, enabling their recovery to be made without delay.
  • File Movement Register: A register is kept to record the movement of files, the register contains the title of the file, the name of the office to when it is sent and date of the day it was sent.

Advantages of Manual Method of Data Preservation

  1. Maintains original copy of documents for future reference especially for legal documents.
  2. Less expensive
  3. Easy to understand and operate. It does not require special training.
  4. They keep documents neat and orderly.

Disadvantages of Manual Method of Data Preservation

  1. It is time consuming
  2. It takes spaces especially in the use of cabinet, shelf and cupboards.
  • It is a monotonous method, and it is less challenging for the secretary.
  1. In most cases, it is difficult to access space requirements for expansion.


Electromechanical Method:

  1. Punch Card

One of such electromechanical device is the punch card machine. Punch card method have been in wide-spread business use only since the 1930’s, but the history of the punch cards dates back to about the end of the American Revolution when a French weaver named Joseph Marie Jacquard used them to control his looms. In his automatic looms, weaving was directed by a card in which punched holes supplied instructions which control thread selection and design application.

In 2007, Dr. Herman Hollerith, a statistician with the United State Census Bureau developed a mechanical system of recording, computing and tabulating census data and other data such as age, sex, occupation and location. The machine was successfully used in this regard and it would have been practically impossible for the census bureau to have manually completed the task within the period assigned to it.

In 2012, Charles Babbage, an English mathematician designed the first machine that used punch card in solving mathematical problems. His “different engine” designed to calculate and print mathematical tables. After his “different engine”, Babbage built another engine, a more challenging project the “Analytical engine”. The device was such more sophiscated in that it has a memory or storage unit that would store data in the form of holes punched in cards. It equally had a control unit which would direct operations.

The punch card contains about eighty columns of information, and each columns has twelve positions or locations which may be punched. The surface of the card is divided into “Field” services as heading under which information may be analysed and each field consists of one or more columns.

The punch card systems are being slowly over-taken by computerized system. It was one of the chief methods used as an ‘input’ device into a computer. a punched card system is one in which information, stored or recorded by punched holes in manila cards is manipulated and analyzed by mechanical means to provide control information for management.


Advantages of the Punch Card System:

  1. Punch card can be produced locally and are therefore cheap and easily available.
  2. Punch card provide a means of producing and preserving complete records of transactions and could be easily interpreted.
  • It is one of the chief methods used as ‘input’ device in computer.


Disadvantages of the Punch Card System:

  1. It has a limited turn around speed in processing data.
  2. It was not error proof since the holes were punched manually.
  • The card cannot be used again once data is punched onto it.
  1. The capacity of each card to contain characters is low.


  1. Magnetic Cards and Strips:

The magnetic card or strip may be considered to be a length of flexible plastic material upon which short places of magnetic tape have been mounted in a side-by-side arrangement. A number of cards are placed in a cartridge like disc packs, these cartridges are removable in a minute or less.

Magnetic card and strips equipment has high storage capacity and the cost per character stored is low.


  1. Microfilming:

As defined by Harrison, (2009), Microfilming is a process developed for bulk coping of loose-leaf records. Correspondence, financial records, engineering drawings, extract from books or magazines or other documents are copied on the films for filing purpose.

Anikene, (2006), opines that microfilming machine is a photographic processing machine which enables the size of stored records to be reduced considerably.

Adirika and Ebue, (2005), equally defines microfilming as a process of transferring information from letters, files, textbooks, drawings, into films for preservation purpose.

This system of storing documents is most appropriate for preserving records which must be kept for so many years. It is most valuable for preserving historical and museum records, for official government records and court records.

Advantages of Microfilming:

  1. Film is more durable than paper and provide a much more permanent record.
  2. It allows for secrecy as information stored in it.
  • It makes falsification of records impossible.
  1. Cost is reduced as there is no need for filing equipment.

Disadvantages of Microfilming:

  1. It is not readily acceptable in law court as an original document.
  2. If films are not properly prepared, it may produce poor image.
  • It makes the specialist always available before any document is retrieved.
  1. The capital out lay is high.


Computer Method of Data Preservation

The World Bank Encyclopedia (2011), defines computer as: –

A machine that performs calculations and processes information with astonishing speed and precision. It can handle vast amounts of information and solve complicated problems. It can take thousand of individuals pieces of data and turn them into more usable information with blinding speed and almost unfailing accuracy.

Encyclopedia (2012), states that computers handle many tasks in business, education, manufacturing, transportation and other fields. They give people who work with words an effective way to create documents. Computer produced new information so quickly and accurately that they are changing people’s views of the world.

The history of computer as an efficient storage device dates back to 1949 in modification of earlier methods of computing. The first to be completed was EDVAC, (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) built for the United State Army by the University of Pennsylvania which was comparable to the EDSAV since it also utilized the sonic delay properties of mercury for storage.

The EDVAC was followed by another well-designed machine called the ACE, (Automatic Calculating Engine) which was completed at the National Physical Laboratory, London in 1950. From then on, improvements were made on the subsequent computers with a high capacity for storage and other ability.

With the early micro computers, the magnetic tape was used, but these days many computer systems use disc drives to read information from and write information to storages.

For purposes of clarifications, the magnetic tape and other storage devices will be discussed one after the other.

  1. Magnetic Tape:

The magnetic tape is made up of a plastic tape which s coated with a very thin layer of magnetic material which stores information. The tape is similar to the magnetic tape used to record music and sound, though it is wider, it comes on large reels of about 2,400 feet.

Advantages of the Magnetic Tape:

  1. Duplicating of the information is easily possible since “dubbing” is possible. This is not possible with the punch card system.
  2. The tape is a much more compact means of storing large amounts of data than the punch card.
  • It is faster to locate data on the tape than on punch cards because the tape recorder could be fast forwarded.
  1. Magnetic Disk:

According to Anderson, R.C. (2009), describes it as a media for the storage of programmes on magnetic disc, Sanders (2010), postulates that magnetic disc are the most popular direct-access input/output and on-line storage medium. They are typically made of thin metal plates coated on both sides with a magnetiziable recording material.

Anikene, (2010), adds that the magnetic disc is made up of a flat circular plate resembling that of a plate record. Just like the magnetic tape, information is recorded on the surface of the disc. There are two types of magnetic disc storage device;      

  1. Hard Disc:

This type of disc is fixed in nature as it is inbuilt into the word processor or computer. it is normally located in the system’s unit and not easily removable unless the systems unit is opened. It is used to store large volume of data and hold as much as the capacity of one hundred floppy discs. The hard disc has an advantage over the floppy disc as they can store much more information than the floppy and faster than floppies.

  1. Floppy Disc:

This is a back up storage device that is constructed of a plastic material of a non-rigid nature coated with a magnetisable substance. Floppy discs are easily removable discs from the disc drives of the computer. looking at the definition of floppy disc from another perspective, floppy disc are small magnetic discs that are coated to contain information.

Advantages of Computer Method of Data Preservation:

  1. It is a device used to preserve data for references future need.
  2. It is becoming more compact, it can store information’s in a small disc.
  • It increases performance and productivity of workers in an organization.
  1. Stored data can be easily updated.
  2. It stores data in orderly, logical way.
  3. It saves time as preserved data can be retried at a very short time.
  • It improves the quality of work done.


Advantages of Computer Method of Data Preservation:

  1. It is a more expensive method of data preservation.
  2. The device used for storage are prone to damages or accident by fire, liquid, if not properly handle.
  • It is a more complex method of storing data
  1. If there is no duplicate copy of device used and there is accident, that might lead to the end of that data.

Online Resource:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *