How eDiscovery File 'Indexing' Really Works

14 June 2021 by UV eDiscovery indexing

Takeaway: Indexing helps you get at your case data faster. It’s a process where your eDiscovery software organizes its behind-the-scene database so that it’s quick and easy to use. A well-indexed case can save you hours of review time, letting you search through hundreds of gigabytes of data in just seconds.

‘Indexing’ is the process of organizing information so that it’s quick and easy to access.

When you upload data into your eDiscovery software, it first gets slotted into a behind-the-scenes database. (Think of this as being like a spreadsheet with dozens of rows of cells, also known as ‘fields’.) The problem with these sorts of databases is that they’re often massive and hard to sort through. That’s where ‘indexing’ comes in. It’s a way of tweaking a database so that it’s quick and easy to search. Imagine having to scan through thousands of documents each time you wanted to find a keyword! Instead, your software skims through the ‘index’ it has created and goes directly to the files you’re looking for. And this index updates itself when you make any changes to your data.

eDiscovery indexes are essentially a more advanced version of the indexes you see in textbooks. (Same concept, better technology.)

Most non-fiction books or textbooks come with an index at the back, which saves you from having to read the entire book just to find a particular topic. Rather, you’ll flip to the index and go down the list of alphabetized keywords. And next to each keyword will be the page numbers of all the pages it pops up in. Indexing in eDiscovery is based on the same principle, just with a bit of advanced computing tacked on.

The best eDiscovery applications index both a file’s content and ‘properties.’

A file’s content is its user-generated data (text, images, videos, etc.), while its properties are computer-generated bits of information about the file. Information like the file’s name, where it’s stored, its format (text, image, video, etc.), when it was created, etc. File properties are especially useful when there’s no ‘content’ to index. For example, images and videos can’t be indexed, but their file properties can.

Indexes are ingenious because they significantly speed up eDiscovery searches.

The best eDiscovery applications build on the power of database indexes to help you create highly advanced searches. For instance, you’ll be able to tell your software to find a specific set of emails and filter them using select keywords and date ranges. (E.g., “Pull up all emails Jim Halpert sent Pam Beesly, which mention the ‘deposition.’ But only the emails he sent before 2013.”) And that’s a single search, done in seconds. This sort of speed would be impossible without indexing.

The challenge, though, is to find eDiscovery software that can solve some basic indexing problems.

There are a few technical issues that pop up when a programmer is developing an indexing system. For example, what happens if you’re uploading files into your software and performing a search at the same time? Your software will need to be able to update the index and search it simultaneously. And this takes a bit of virtual juggling. Even simply uploading files is a challenge because your software needs to be able to index them fast. Otherwise, most users will get frustrated and switch eDiscovery software.

Remember, though, that there’s more to eDiscovery than just indexing. Your software also needs to be easy to use.

Elegant indexing might be an important part of speedy eDiscovery, but there are other things your software should be able to do, too. For example, it needs to be something you can learn how to use in minutes (not hours). Then, it needs to have a simple, well-designed interface. You’ll also want it to use Cloud storage, have transparent pricing, and charge you only for essential eDiscovery tools. Remember that the best indexing in the world can’t make up for software that can’t offer these basics.

At GoldFynch, we’ve worked at making our software well-rounded and affordable.

GoldFynch is an eDiscovery service designed for small and midsize law firms. Our software uses the latest advances in database and indexing technology, but it has other things going for it too.

  • It costs just $10 a month for a 1 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 (1 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, 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 a 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, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?