What Should Website Owners Know about Data Storage?

As website owners, we should all have an understanding of our website’s data storage; what we collect and store can have legal and privacy ramifications, keep reading.

Data Storage

Kuva Bethany Drouin Pixabaystä

In the current digital environment, where data is an asset, brands collect and store data to help with decision-making and problem-solving. For website owners, data storage is especially crucial due to the large volumes of information users leave on the internet. To ensure that your website provides the insights you need to grow your brand and avoid violating data privacy laws and regulations, you should equip yourself with the necessary knowledge for optimal data management.

If you run a website or are planning on launching one, this article discusses what you need to know about data storage to ensure you get the best out of your website data.

What is Data Storage?

Data storage is simply the recording or preservation of information in storage mediums to make it accessible whenever you need it. It also includes the systems, applications, network protocols, and media for retaining data. Data can be stored in magnetic tape, handwriting, optical discs, phonographic recordings, and handwriting.

With data storage, you can retrieve the information you need in the future for reference or sharing purposes, depending on your needs. In an age where businesses collect large volumes of data, it is impossible to use all of it at once. With this in mind, you need an efficient and reliable data storage solution to secure your valuable information.

Types of Data Websites Collect

Every time someone visits your website, they leave digital traces and footprints that websites use for monitoring and identification. Websites collect the data, and you can use it to enhance your marketing strategy. The information and insights help create user profiles that allow you to deliver a better user experience by matching the users’ preferences. You can also use it to run targeted campaigns and achieve better results in your digital marketing.

As a website owner, it is your responsibility to store and secure your website data in line with privacy laws. Also, you should only retain relevant information and discard it when it no longer serves its purpose. Here are five types of data your website collects whenever users browse the site.

IP Address

The IP address (Internet Protocol) is the most common form of data that websites log from users. It refers to the number that shows your location on the internet, and websites can use it to approximate your geographical location. The IP address can also show the internet service provider of the user. Since IP addresses can lead someone to your exact home address, most people opt for VPNs. Note that websites can figure out users’ locations even when the location is off.



Hardware and Software Details

Web browsers provide websites with all the information it requests, including the users’ hardware and software details. Websites know the computer you use, software details, operating system, GPU, processor, and even battery. This information usually comes in handy when tracking a device.


Cookies are files that gather and store data online. Websites place cookies on your device to collect information such as name, passwords, the user’s location, and the number of times a user visits a page. It also saves the user’s preferences, such as font, language, and likes. Websites use this information to show targeted ads and provide a personalized experience to users. Session cookies disappear when you leave a website, while persistent cookies linger.

Website History

The most common data websites collect about users is website history. They do this through cookies and other tracking technologies. Although a user can delete their website history, it may not completely disappear. Companies like Google maintain details of how you use browsers like Chrome with regard to the data you delete, even though the specific information may be missing.

Autofill Data

Autofill data is the information you provide when filling out forms online, such as details when signing up for social media. When you enter information such as names, email addresses, and phone numbers, the website collects this information for later use. When you go to a new site after providing this information elsewhere, the website can automatically fill in the details in the required fields. Any other user-provided information is also collected and stored by websites.

Through analytics and complex monitoring, websites can collect information about your friends and family, contacts, and associates. For example, a website like Facebook attempts to identify user relationships by monitoring how frequently they communicate, contact duration, and even interests.

But how do websites collect all this data?

Besides cookies, websites can use tracking pixels to track and collect your data. Tracking pixels are snippets of HTML code that follow your activity starting when you click on an email or email link. They also use Fingerprinting (similar to cookies but retrieves data continuously) and IP tracking.

Data Storage Concepts Websites Owners Should Know

With the large volume of data that websites collect, having an efficient and reliable data storage solution ensures you get the best out of the information you collect. The more you understand data storage concepts, the better you can run your website, protect your website data, and meet your marketing goals. You can also comply with data policies like the General Data Protection Regulations and avoid getting into legal problems that can cost you dearly.

Here are crucial data storage concepts that every website owner should understand.

  1. Web Storage

Also known as Document Object Model storage (DOM), Web Storage retains client-side data without the server’s involvement. It stores website data in the user’s browser, which results in a better user experience. Webs Storage allows you to store up to 5MB per storage area of data, including localization settings and preference settings.

It offers more storage than cookies, whose limit is 4.0KB. Since Web Storage can function without requiring an HTTP response, you can update and modify saved data in the browser safely, even if the user suddenly loses internet connection. Also, the Web Storage part of a website is not accessible to other browsers, which promotes data security.

Web Storage comes in two forms—sessionStorage and localStorage.

sessionStorage: sessionStorage retains client-side data for as long as the user is browsing the website. The stored data is usually available throughout the browsing period and protects the user from having to re-enter details in case they accidentally refresh or close the browser window. It is ideal for short-term uses such as e-commerce carts, as the data disappears once you close the window or tab.

localStorage: It works just like session storage. However, the data persists for longer between user sessions. This means that the saved data will still be available when the user returns to the website, as there is no expiry date for the stored data. localStorage also shares data among windows and tabs for a cohesive experience. Since the data will always be available, you can manually delete it using JavaScript or clearing your website cache.

It is not advisable to store sensitive information like passwords on Web Storage as other people with access to the website can read local data.

  1. Private Cloud Storage

Although Web Storage is great for user experience, it may not provide the long-term data storage you need. Also known as enterprise cloud, private cloud storage is among the popular ways to manage large data volumes for longer. It uses company infrastructure and resources alongside a dedicated third-party data center or on-premise servers to preserve data. Private cloud storage is especially ideal for storing sensitive information as you have more control over the data and better security, although at a higher cost.

If you are worried about the privacy of the data you store, investing in private cloud storage services is an excellent idea as it is only accessible to those within the business. Besides the costs, you require in-house IT personnel to manage and maintain your private cloud service. It is also less scalable compared to the public cloud. This means you may run into challenges if your data needs increase and you need to scale up your storage capacity.

The good thing is that you don’t have to deal with competition for storage capacity as the private cloud is only available to you. Therefore, your workload performance is never affected by another organization sharing the same server and running intensive workloads. You are, however, responsible for setting up and managing the cloud service, which adds to your expenses and responsibility as you are in charge of the resources.

  1. Public Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Storage

Unlike private cloud that you can control fully, public cloud storage is a cloud storage service from third-party providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. To access the services, you pay a monthly or annual subscription, and the provider handles everything else.

You don’t incur set-up costs, infrastructure, hardware and software expenses, or even maintenance costs for the IT resources, which makes it a less costly option than private cloud services. It is also easier to implement, and you can access and share your data wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection. However, since it is public, anyone can subscribe and access the services.

On the other hand, hybrid cloud storage gives you the best of both worlds. The data storage option combines private and public cloud features by using third-party cloud services and enterprise/private infrastructure. You can decide what data goes where depending on its sensitivity. It also gives you better data security and ease of use while keeping your maintenance costs low.

  1. Local Backups

Most website data storage options depend on browsers or the internet. However, you can still utilize local backups to safeguard your data. Local back-ups typically use DAS (Direct-Attached Storage) devices like hard disks, external hard drives, tape, and flash drives situated on-site near the data source. If you use your data mainly for analytics, keeping physical copies is appropriate for data security. However, don’t forget the privacy concerns that come with the decision.

Physical copies are more vulnerable to falling into the wrong hands. As such, you need strict guidelines and policies to track and restrict access to them. Also, it can be harder to scale up local backups as you need to add new equipment whenever your data storage requirements increase. In case of a disaster like fire or floods at the premises, the copies can suffer damage, making it harder to recover.

Despite the risks, local backups provide faster backups and recovery, ease of access as it is onsite, and more security control.

  1. Cookies

Like Web Storage, cookies store small amounts of user data in the browser. However, they store much less data than web storage. Although cookies collect data directly or through third parties, they are also subject to privacy regulations. Whether you depend on cookies for user information or not, you should also inform your website users about how you use the cookies.

Cookies can be first-party or third-party. First-party cookies are placed by the website your visit on your computer to collect information and track your browsing, while other parties such as advertisers use third-party cookies to monitor what you are interested in and show you targeted ads. When you leave a website, the ads follow you around the internet based on third-party cookies.


How you store your website data determines your regulatory compliance, data privacy, analytics, and overall user experience. It is, therefore, crucial to be familiar with your storage options when launching or running a website as it can be the difference between success and failure.