What makes MSG File 'Classes' Easier To Identify With eDiscovery Software

14 April 2023 by Uday eDiscovery message-classes MSG-files

Takeaway: MSG files could be emails, notes, calendar appointments, address book contacts, and more. To identify the type of data the file holds we will need to know the ‘message class’ of the MSG file. An easy way to identify this is by utilizing your eDiscovery software.

We normally consider MSG files to be Outlook’s default email format.

An MSG file can simply be defined as Microsoft Outlook’s default email format. When you double-click on a file with a .msg extension, your computer will identify it as an MSG file and immediately open Outlook so that you can view the file. Once the file has been opened in Outlook you will be able to view the content of the email and other information such as from email address, to email address, date it was sent, date it was received, and much more. Additionally, you should be able to view or access any links and attachments that can be found in the email. But a point to note is that Outlook normally stores emails in a PST (personal storage table) file. So for an email to be stored as an MSG file on your computer, you will need to drag-and-drop it from Outlook to the appropriate folder

As Microsoft Outlook is more than an email client MSGs indicate more than just emails.

When we think of Outlook we think predominantly of emails but it has more than just emails. Outlook is a multi-function productivity suite that has an inbuilt calendar, notes application, address book, and more. The range of services that it offers is very similar to what is present in the Google ecosystem (Google Calendar, Meet, Chat, etc.). What this means is that MSG files are the main component of all Outlook functions and not just emails.

An MSG file can indicate various types of data units.

Other than emails MSGs are single-unit representations of all of Outlook’s features. They can represent anything from journal entries, calendar appointments, address book contacts, documents, out-of-office templates, notes, distribution lists, items from 3rd-party plug-ins to Outlook, and more.

An MSG file’s type can be identified by its message class.

A ‘message class’ is the identifier that is assigned by Outlook to an MSG file to denote the kind of data unit it represents. For example, a message class of ‘IPM’ (i.e., interpersonal message) lets you know that the MSG file is a record of a conversation between two users. A message class of ‘IPM.Note’ lets you know that this conversation is an email.

A message class confirms the MSG’s specific type.

A message class helps you to troubleshoot issues that can be found in an MSG file. Suppose you try to upload an MSG file to your eDiscovery software and you get an ‘unsupported’ error, looking into the message class can help you identify the reason behind this. (It could be that the MSG file was from a 3rd-party plugin that has been removed from Outlook). Using the message class you can not only confirm the specific type of data unit it represents but also know what operations can be performed on the file.

This shows that we need to be able to find out the message class of an MSG file - though at times this can be tough, especially with third-party apps.

You can use various free third-party apps to find out an MSG file’s message class. Some notable examples are -

  • SysTools MSG viewer - this is a free application that is compatible with Windows, you can open/explore MSG files and any attachments they may contain
  • Zanzibar - this is an online file converter that lets you convert MSG files to PDFs and more. Though the app primarily converts the files it also helps in identifying the MSG classes while doing so.

These tools are good but your eDiscovery application would be the best choice as this identification would most probably be part of its workflow.

You will most probably already be utilizing an eDiscovery application to review your case files and this application can help you identify message classes. Hence, you can just use your eDiscovery application to check the MSG files instead of trying out different third-party applications. For instance, when using GoldFynch, you just need to open the MSG file in GoldFynch’s document viewer and click to expand the ‘file type’ section in the right panel of the viewer. The message class of the file will be listed there. You can also read the file’s text, view attachments, review any custodian linked to it, and more.

Using such software will give you a detailed overview of the MSG file.

The advantage of this form of MSG file overview is that the software selects the correct message class from an extensive list - so it will be easier for you to know what a particular MSG file does. For example, for a message class of IPM.document means that it is a document, IPM.Schedule.Meeting Request a meeting request, IPM.Task a task, IPM.Appointment an appointment, IPM.Post.RSS a post from an RSS feed, and more.

Additionally, most eDiscovery applications are built to search and identify message classes.

The search engine of your eDiscovery Application is probably its most important feature. A simple keyword search will look for single keywords - for example, when you search for the keyword ‘Smith’ the application will retrieve emails and documents that are related to all custodians with the name ‘Smith’. When you change this simple search to an advanced search by combining keywords and some other file attributes, that is when things get interesting. Using an advanced search you can search for only emails where the sender is ‘John Smith’ and the subject line is ‘Bernoulli Contract. What we are doing here is adding multiple requirements to a single search. Similarly, you can also add message classes to your search. For instance, in GoldFynch there exists a ‘search with parameters’ feature using which you can add search conditions to only retrieve a particular message class. Using this you could search for only notes MSGs excluding email MSGs with the same keyword. This game-changing feature allows you to easily filter your search results, thus letting you quickly find particular files instead of manually scanning through a large search result dataset.

Another point to note is that metadata protection is built into eDiscovery applications.

Critical metadata details can be protected when you use an eDiscovyer application to review MSG files. The contextual information generated by our computer/ device for any file that is created by it is known as metadata. For example, when you create a Word document, your device will create metadata like your profile name, creation date/time, file size, location on the hard drive or computer network, and much more. An MSG file’s message class is one of the many metadata fields that exist. The ease with which one can alter a file s metadata is a point of concern. (For instance, just double-clicking on a file to open it will update the ‘last opened’ metadata). On the other hand, eDiscovery applications are set up to import and export files without altering the metadata, so this is another favorable aspect of using an eDiscovery application to explore MSG files.

So, load any MSG files you have to your eDiscovery application.

The present-day Cloud eDiscovery services come with multiple eDiscovery tools and a comprehensive platform for all your review needs. Here we have talked about the search and metadata protection abilities of these eDiscovery applications but they also come with optical character recognition to decode scanned documents, in-built communications for teams, secure redaction abilities so that sensitive information can be withheld, and a production wizard to put together reviewed files for court. So instead of shopping around for third-party apps when you want to decode your MSG files just use your eDiscovery software to do the same.

Looking for an eDiscovery application that can help you view, review, analyze, and identify the message classes of your MSG files, consider trying GoldFynch.

GoldFynch is an eDiscovery service designed for small and midsize law firms. It’s compatible with any VPN service you currently use and has all the essential security tools you’ll need, plus the following bonus features:

  • It costs just $27 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 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.
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