Real-time processing is the processing and output of data as soon as input is received. In contrast, batch processing occurs after all input has been received, with the processing and output completed at a specified time. Whether a company decides to use either real-time or batch processing, there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods.
Since data is being entered and processed immediately in real-time processing, the data can be accessed and corrected immediately by the user. Data that is processed in a batch must follow a structured protocol for correcting errors, which often takes more time. Real-time processing produces data that is more up-to-date than data processed in batches. It is also likely to produce more accurate data, since the input tools are readily available to users.
Batch processing can be more cost-effective, using fewer peripheral devices than real-time processing, though the cost savings is reduced as the price of peripheral devices decreases over time. Batch processing also allows a business to schedule when the computer is to be used, allowing for more efficient use of computer hardware and personnel time. Batches can be programmed to be processed at night, and are ready and waiting for workers the next morning.