Data Lake Vs Data Warehouse - What’s the Biggest Difference?


Data Analysis using Qualitative and Quantitative Techniques3
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What’s the biggest difference between a data lake and a data warehouse? While they both store large amounts of data, there are differences in how they’re designed and managed. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each one to make informed decisions on which one to choose. 

The big difference between data lake and data warehouse lies in their structure and how they store data…But before we dig into that, let’s first get some background on each of these terms for a better understanding of the differences between them. Let’s explore some of the key differences so you can choose the best system for your needs!

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What Is A Data Lake?

A data lake is a type of storage system that is used to store large volumes of raw data. It is a repository of raw data that can be used to store and analyze. It can store any type of data in its original format.

These lakes are typically designed to store and analyze large amounts of data in their raw form, without requiring transformation or processing. Additionally, data lakes are often designed to provide a single destination for all enterprise data, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured formats.

Data lakes are typically less expensive than traditional databases because they store all types of unstructured information, including text, video, images, and social media posts.

To manage the huge volume of data in these lakes, they must be able to scale up quickly as well as provide high performance during periods of peak demand.

What Is A Data Warehouse?

Data warehousing is the process of storing and accessing data. It stores and organizes data in a way that can be used for decision-making and analysis. It is a database that stores information from one or more sources and many people can assess it at the same time.

The data warehouse is an important part of the business intelligence process because it provides a central place to store all kinds of information about a business. It  is built to meet the needs of different departments or business units. They are often designed for a specific purpose.

Furthermore, a data warehouse is typically built on top of an existing database. In a nutshell, it’s used to present data across a company that can be easily accessed and analyzed. However, there’s no one type of definition for what constitutes a data warehouse; there are variations based on purpose, size, and other elements.

Difference Between Data Lake And Data Warehouse

There are five major differences between a data lake and a data warehouse.


Data Lake

Data warehouse 

Storage and  quality 

A data lake is a storage repository, with no defined structure or schema. It is designed to store raw data in its native format until needed.

A data warehouse is a centralized database that’s used to store and analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data. 

Data warehouse store high-quality processed data that is ready to use


Data scientists

Data lakes are widely used by data scientists for deep analysis. 

Business analysts 

Data warehouse is used by analysts to build reports and do analysis on large chunks of processed data.


The task of data lakes is to store original, unstructured, raw data. This data can be accessed even after data is processed in ETL.

The data warehouse focuses on processed data that can be used for predefined questions and analysis.  

Processing time

Processing time for the data lake is lesser than the data warehouse. It enables users to get to their desired result faster.

When it comes to traditional data warehouses, processing time can be time-consuming.


Data lake storage costs are comparatively lower than a data warehouse.

Data warehouse storage is more expensive. 

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Which Approach Is Right For Me?

When it comes to data management and analytics, most companies face two main choices: a data warehouse or a data lake. Both these approaches differ in purpose, implementation, and future planning. Data lakes are emerging as a hot topic in business strategy today whereas data warehouses have been used for decades.

In fact, most organizations use a hybrid approach. Before deciding whether a data lake or data warehouse is right for your organization, it’s important to know what exactly you need from your data. If you have a small business with limited technical needs and little IT support, a data lake may be a good option. 

However, if you’re working with large amounts of complex information and need to ask sophisticated questions of that information to generate reports and insights (and then use those insights to drive operational efficiency), then chances are good that a data warehouse is right for you. Because there’s overlap between how each works and how they both work, it can be hard to tell which approach will be best for your specific needs without some research into other companies in similar positions as yours.

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