Disclosure of electronic documents, similar to paper disclosure, requires a reasonable search of documents. However, due to the fact that the documents are in an electronic format, a filter for relevancy can be more efficient.

The biggest challenge facing e-disclosure is that of volume as, for example, one 40GB backup tape may contain millions of documents.

Conducting a cost-effective search of such a large volume of potentially relevant documents is difficult and it is vital that the documents are collected in a way that does not change any of their metadata.

Metadata is data that a computer system or computer programme generates automatically, such as the date and time of creation of a document and the identity of its creator. It is helpful because it can describe a particular document, and be used to sort documents for relevancy.

In many cases, data collection can be as simple as, for example, gathering monthly backup tapes for the client’s main email server.

Sometimes, however, potentially relevant data may be stored on systems that have no formal, or centrally-administered, backup process. In these instances, the manual collection of electronic documents on-site and in multiple locations may be required.