What is file processing system? Which problems were faced in traditional file approach in processing information?


Traditional file processing is the first computer-based method to handle business application. In the past, many organizations stored data in files on tape or disk. The data was managed using file processing system. In a typical file processing system, each department in an organization has its own set of files. The files are designed specially for their own applications. The records in one file are not related to the records in any other file.

Problems in traditional file approach

The business organization faced the following problems in traditional file approach:


1.  Data Redundancy

In file processing system, the same data may be duplicated in several files. Suppose there are two files “Students” and “Library”. The file “Student” contains the data Roll No, name, address and telephone number and other details of all students in a college. The file “Library” contains the Roll No and name of those students who get a book from library along with the information about the book. The data of one student appears in two files. This is known as data redundancy. This redundancy causes higher storage.

2.  Data Inconsistency

File system approach can also result in data inconsistency. Inconsistency means that two files many contain different data of the same student. For example, if the address of a student is changed, it must be changed in both files. There is a possibility that is is changed in the “Students” file and not from “Library” file. The data becomes inconsistent in this situation.

3.  Program Data Dependency

Program data dependency is a relationship between data in files and program required to update and maintain the files. Application programs are developed according to a particular file format in file processing system. If the format of file is changed, the application program also needs to be changed accordingly. For example, if there is a change in the length of postal code, it requires change in the program. The changes may be costly to implement.

4.  Lack of Flexibility

The file processing system is not very flexible. It cannot easily generate the information that is different from routine. It can take a lot of time to collect the data from different files and write programs to produce the desired information.

5.  Integrity Problems

Integrity means reliability and accuracy of data. The stored data must satisfy certain types of consistency constrains. For example, Roll No and Marks of students should be numeric value. It is very difficult to apply these constrains on files in file processing system.

6. Security Problems

File processing system does not provide adequate security on data. In some situations, it is required to provide different types of access to data for different users. For example, a data entry operator should only be allowed to enter data. The chairman of the organization should be able to access or delete the data completely. Such types of security options are not available in file processing system.