Why You Might Be Wrong About Your eDiscovery Case Size [And Why It's Costing You]
Takeaway: eDiscovery cases grow and shrink all the time. For example, they grow when you unpack container files and shrink when you delete duplicate/system files. But some eDiscovery pricing systems penalize you for this. The solution? Find eDiscovery software with prorated storage-based pricing.
The first rule of eDiscovery is ‘100 GB of data isn’t really 100 GB of data.’
When your client says that their case is just 100 GBs, you might take them at their word and budget for eDiscovery accordingly. But things aren’t always that straightforward.
1. Those 100 GBs could expand to 150 GBs as files are ‘unpacked.’
Files aren’t always as small as they seem. Sometimes, they have sub-files that take up more space when they’re unpacked. For example:
- Emails and their attachments. The email is the ‘parent’, and the attachments are the ‘children.’
- Documents with embedded files. For example, a PowerPoint presentation with video clips in it.
- Space-saving ‘container files’ with compressed content. For example, RARs, ZIPs, and PSTs (for emails). In fact, an average PST will expand to 1.75 – 2 times its original size when its emails are extracted!
2. Those 100 GBs could shrink to 50 GBs as you get rid of duplicates and ‘system’ files.
You’ll always find files that you don’t need and which just waste space. So you’ll end up deleting them, which could shrink your case significantly. Here are some examples.
- Duplicate files. Say your client’s head of HR – Peter – emails a policy-change document to everyone in the organization. You’ll find the same document on his computer, the computers of other employees, and attached to emails sitting in inboxes, servers, and backup drives. They were important to everyone involved at one point, but not anymore.
- System files. To run smoothly, computers and applications need a range of specialized files. But these files don’t have any reviewable content for us users. For example, each piece of hardware we attach to a computer (printers, keyboards, etc.) comes with its own ‘driver’ files. Then there are ‘executable’ (i.e., EXE) files that launch applications, and DLLs, INIs, CHMs, etc., that run the applications. There are (literally) millions of these ‘system’ file types, but they weren’t created by your custodians, they aren’t connected to your case, and they don’t have any readable material. So, there’s no point in having them clutter your case and distract you.
3. There’ll be a lot of organic shrinking and growing as part of the eDiscovery process.
As the case evolves, you’ll inevitably have to add new files and delete others. For example, your client might have overlooked a custodian or forgotten about a valuable cache sitting on a rarely-used server. You’ll now need to add these files to your original 100 GBs. Then, when you review these files, you might learn that they have nothing to do with your case. And so you’ll delete them. This expansion and contraction is part of the pulse of eDiscovery.
‘So what does a constantly-changing case size mean?’ Well, it could mean you end up wasting a lot of money. A better question is: ‘Are you paying for eDiscovery ‘processing,’ or is it free?’
When you upload files into your eDiscovery software, there’s a lot of ‘processing’ that goes on in the background. For example, it has to filter out time-wasting duplicate files and system files (e.g., EXE files, font files, etc.). Then, it needs to convert documents into a standard format so you can open them all in your eDiscovery application. And finally, it extracts embedded files (covered earlier) and file metadata. (Learn more about eDiscovery processing.) Obviously, this is a pretty complicated process and some eDiscovery providers charge per-GB of data you upload. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.
Paying to upload and process your data makes eDiscovery much more expensive than it needs to be.
Upfront processing fees seem to keep costs predictable. If you have a per-GB rate, and you know how many GBs you’ll be uploading, then you know exactly what your eDiscovery bill will be, right? But really, the ‘upfront’ model boxes you in. Because, remember, eDiscovery is an art: You’re building a story by asking questions like ‘What happened? When and how? Who is involved? What did they do? How are they connected?’ This is a complex, partly-intuitive process and you need leeway to explore. With upfront processing, though, you tend to get boxed in. You’re constantly aware of having to pay for each GB you upload, so you try to limit the uploads. But as we’ve seen, eDiscovery can’t (and shouldn’t) work like this. You have to allow for your case to grow and shrink organically.
Instead of paying for processing, find an eDiscovery service that charges only for storage.
This payment model keeps things much more fluid, which allows you to do a better job for your clients. Since uploading is free, you won’t be charged for the duplicate and system files you’ll immediately delete. You also won’t get surprised with extra processing costs for unpacked container files. And you aren’t that worried about your case continually expanding and shrinking – because you can upload and delete as many files as you want, for free. In short, you become a much less stressed version of yourself. (Learn more about Paying Flat Fees Vs. A La Carte Uploading Fees.)
Storage-based eDiscovery pricing can save you thousands of dollars.
At GoldFynch, we chose to charge for processing instead of storage because our research showed that it was a much better payment model. For example, we’ve had customers who start with a 100 GB case but end up processing close to 1.5 TB! If they had used a charge-for-processing eDiscovery service, they would have spent $35K–50K up front (we did the math!). But with our pay-for-storage eDiscovery model, they paid just $12k over a whole year. (Look at our pricing plan to do the calculations yourself.)
Want to lower your eDiscovery bill by paying for storage, not processing? Try GoldFynch.
It prioritizes the things that matter to small and midsize law firms like yours. That’s why:
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
- It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up front how much you’ll be paying. It takes just a few clicks to move from one plan to another, and billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
- It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
- It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch and you’re good to go. Plus, it’s designed, developed, and run by the same team. So you get prompt and reliable tech support.
- It keeps you flexible. To build a defensible case, you need to be able to add and delete files freely. Many applications charge to process each file you upload, so you’ll be reluctant to let your case organically shrink and grow. And this stifles you. With GoldFynch, you get unlimited processing for free. So, on a 1 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 1 GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 1 GB, your plan upgrades automatically and you’ll be charged for only the time spent on each plan. That’s the beauty of prorated pricing.
- Access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- eDiscovery Overload: What to Do When Your Small Law Firm Has Too Much to Handle
- 5 eDiscovery Trends Your Small Law Firm Can’t Afford to Miss
- Have You Optimized eDiscovery to Retain Clients for Your Small Law Firm?
- 5-Minute eDiscovery: How to Save Time and Money for Your Small Law Firm
- [Uncovered] eDiscovery Myth: Small Law Firms Can’t Handle Large Cases [over 100 GB]
- 16 Have-to-Know Questions to Simplify eDiscovery for Your Small Law Firm
- 8 Common eDiscovery Mistakes Your Small Law Firm May be Making