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How are e-discovery tools used and what are some good tools for SMBs?

How are e-discovery tools used?

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Electronic discovery (e-discovery) and the tools associated with it is one of those topics that can have different meanings to various people. For example, e-discovery can be applied to searching electronic records in support of litigation prosecution or defense. It can also be for non-legal scenarios including intellectual property (IP) search, which might include preparing for patent submission or for general data and IP mining within your organizations. E-discovery and e-discovery tools can also be used for data loss (or leak) prevention to proactively determine what data exists where so that you can either find a leak and/or isolate and fix a potential leak before it becomes a problem.

Another area that can get lumped in with e-discovery is general purpose data searching within an organization. Storage resource management (SRM) is often used in e-discovery to determine what files and data exist, and where they exist. Data searching can either be shallow (macro) or deep (micro). Shallow data searching involves simply looking for and at files. Deep data searching means to look into and at files or objects, as well as applying contextuality, lexicon analysis and other computational linguistic practices or filters.

Knowing what you'll be using the e-discovery tools for will help you find good products or services. Some e-discovery tools available to small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are more expensive and provide more capabilities, while others are simple for a lower fee. Also, some are available as a service with different features such as discovery supporting different lexicons (e.g., legal, medical, financial, etc.), litigation hold, an interface with data archiving products, redaction and others. Major vendors with e-discovery tools include EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., IBM Corp., Microsoft and Oracle, along with smaller firms such as Kroll, StoredIQ and Xobni Corp.

This was first published in June 2010

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