What is dark data?

What is dark data?

Discovering and managing data is challenging for many businesses, this is where dark data will be found. Dark data is unstructured data and not used day-to-day within the business. Such as saving an image from the internet, or creating a document and never opening it again. Only 12% of a business's data is business critical, meaning at least 80% is classified as "dark" data - data that hasn't been classified, protected or governed.


Understanding how and why dark data is created is essential for businesses to recognise their potential, and develop strategies to harness its hidden value. Not uncovering this dark data can resulting in storing mass amounts of unstructured data within your cloud infrastructure. Doing this can result in a number of business implications such as:

Security risks

Where a large volume of dark data exists, sensitive or confidential information can go unnoticed, therefore posing a risk and becoming an easy target for a data breach.

Increased storage costs

Storing and managing data within the cloud costs money, and dark data utilises unnecessary storage. Reviewing the data could reduce ongoing storage consumption costs.

Inaccurate insights

Dark data that is unstructured can lead to skewed insights, relying on this data can lead to poor decision-making and misguided strategies. Failing to take advantage of this data effectively may also lead to missed opportunities for competitive advantage.


Although there can be certain implications when it comes to managing dark data, this data can also have a positive impact. There is valuable data that just hasn't been managed or classified and could be leverages if uncovered.

Doing so can lead to a number of advantages:

Competitive advantage

Businesses that are using all of their data are already ahead of their competitors, making data-driven informed decisions, enabling them to stay ahead of market trends and outperform competitors.

Operational efficiency / productivity

Incorporating dark data into everyday decisions can lead to revealing any inefficiencies within processes and boost productivity within the business.

Strategic planning

Untapping dark data can provide incremental long-term insights for the business, enabling strategic insight to identify trends or shifts through a larger data set.


To be able to take full advantage of dark data, it needs to be classified, protected and governed so that you can understand the valuable data that you have available and ensures it is appropriately organised to unleash its full potential.

Here at Centrality, we run Microsoft-funded workshops looking at how you can protect and govern sensitive data. These workshops leverage Microsoft tools such as Purview to provide you with insights that you need to better discover, protect and master data governance of your corporate data.

Interested in finding out more? Visit our workshop page