Data processing operations include addition of records from one table or file to another, importation or exportation of files such as spreadsheets and text files, and updating fields of all records or a subset of records in a table. Data processing also involves computations, such as working out the number of days between two dates. A user can also change data by searching a record and entering new values.

Typical forms of data manipulation include changing capitalization of fields, summarizing data, cross-tabulation of records, and identification or removal of redundant or outdated entries. A user may retrieve records for purposes of data validation, which includes ascertaining that the data is useful and not corrupted. He may sort data to arrange it in a preferred order. On analysis, the user collects, organizes, interprets and presents data in a useful form. Selected entries from a database may be retrieved for reporting purposes during data processing.

Aggregation is also a data processing operation and entails the combining of several pieces of data. Aggregation operations also entail the classification of data into various categories. There are at least three methods of data processing: automatic, electronic and manual, with the computerized method being the most current as of 2014.