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Preserving metadata is crucial within eDiscovery and civil litigation exercises. Metadata is the information generated within a piece of electronic data and is effectively the ‘data about the data’. Metadata exists within every digital item and physical devices such as your computer and smartphone. These devices may also collect metadata about your usage, creating a footprint. These properties may be automatically generated by your File System, operating system, or the application you are using.
The data points every file carries with it includes information about;
All of this information is crucial to the electronic tools that are used to filter, sort, prioritise and evaluate the electronically stored information (ESI) before producing it.
Metadata is fragile, as opening or previewing documents will alter their last access date. Copying a file can change the creation date to the date it was copied. Saving a file can alter its last modified date and some applications carry the original authors name even if another person copies the file and modifies it. If metadata is needed for litigation, it is imperative not to ‘peek’ just to see what exists because doing so will alter the metadata.
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