What Do You Have?

The success of any document review process is the importance of organizing your data before processing into a review platform.  There are some who assume that you can simply throw all of your data into a software, press a button and everything is magically organized for review - in five minutes.   While there is software out there that can come pretty darn close to doing that, this isn’t the reality.  You can increase your odds dramatically by organizing your data first. 

So how do you do that?

First, you need to know what you have.  If you are familiar with file types, you can scan through your data to determine if you have emails, pdf files, word processing files or programming files.  The type of data you have will determine how it will be processed.  

Not familiar with file types?  Click here for a place which lists the most common file types and extensions. 


It would be helpful to determine what you have and tally up the file types you have in your data.  A useful tool to do this is a free tool called WinDirStat.  This app will give you an overview of the file types on a drive or folder.

Here's a screenshot from WinDirStat:

Okay, so once you see what you have, what are they?

Lexbe, an eDiscovery vendor, has a pretty accurate description of file types:

  • Email – Includes Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus Notes, and other email files.  Extensions include PST, OST, DBX, MSG, NFS.

  • Word Processing – Includes Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, Open Office and similar file types.  Extensions include DOC, DOCX , WPD, RTF, ODT.

  • Spreadsheets – Includes Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro, Open Office and other spreadsheet application.   Extensions include XLS, XLSX, WK1, WK2, WK3, WK4, WR1, 123, WQ1, WQ2, WKQ, ODS.

  • Presentations – Includes PPT, PPTX, ODP.

  • PDFs  – Refers to Adobe Acrobat files. The extension is usually PDF.

  • Scanned Images – Refers to other image based files made by various applications. Extensions include BMP, DCX, TIF, TIFF, JPG, JPEG, RAW, ODG.

  • Text Files – Refers to other text based files made by various applications. Extensions include TXT, CVS.

  • Other File Types – Refers to other file types you might have in a sample that have not been identified above.

You don’t have to be overly tech savvy to understand what file types/extensions exist in your data.  Knowing what you have is going to work to your advantage in further organizing it.  The more you can do in the beginning will benefit you later in the process.  

Always consult a litigation technology specialist if you are in doubt about your data or how to organize it.  


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