Keep an index, or pay later
How accessible is your data? All of it.
How quickly can you access your data? If we are talking about your current data, such as your Word documents and project files, then presumably you can access it very quickly. (However, how quickly can you find documents using Word metadata or photographs taken on a particular date?)
What about your other ESI data? Data on projects that you have previously worked on? Data that you have archived, onto either CDs/DVDs, external hard drives, or tape drives? Not just Word documents, but your old emails? How quickly can you find particular information on these external devices?
It may be that your most recent archive is more accessible. You can remember where most of the files are located, and you probably have the media to hand. But what about your less recent data? Would you have to go through several hard drives to find the right one?
In the recent case of US ex rel. CECILIA GUARDIOLA v Renown, Renown stated that it had archived its emails, every six months, on backup tabs using “a then-leading backup solution” (this is only 4 years ago!), and it argued now that, because there is no easily accessible index, these “emails are not reasonably accessible due to undue burden”, and that it would cost US$135,000 to restore the relevant tape.
The term “undue burden” is the relevant one. According to Rule 26(b)(2)(C), the court has to weigh up the difficulty or cost against the importance of the data. The court did, and ruled that “the court is compelled by Rule 26 to find that the emails are reasonably accessible and discoverable – and that they were to bear the cost.
How does this case relate to your business? Whilst you won’t have to pay $135,000, or anything like that, to find your information, you could still waste hours of your precious time to find data that could have been at your fingertips.
Therefore, it is not enough just to archive data. You also need to catalog it. Only with an index that you can easily access can you reduce the amount of time spent, and increase the certainty of finding, the information that you need. It’s no good cataloging an archival hard drive and keeping that catalog only on that hard drive. You should also keep it on your current hard drive, in a location which is easily retrievable (such as a folder called “Archive”).
This is how I have been doing it for the last 15 years – even before the Filecats programs were created. Whilst once they were created using BAT commands, creating your backup catalogues is now so easy using any of the Filecats programs. Just a couple of clicks, and the indexing starts, either in Microsoft Excel, or in a self-contained table that you can save or copy and paste into your own spreadsheet program.
Quick, easy, and simple to create and use – and can save you loads of time. Try it now, and keep your archive accessible.