Understanding MBOX Files and Their Use in eDiscovery

29 April 2024 by Uday eDiscovery mbox

Takeaway: MBOX files are a widely used format for storing batches of emails. Although they are simple to open with any basic text editor, it is advisable to use specialized eDiscovery software when dealing with them in a legal context to preserve file metadata and access advanced review tools.

The evolution from paper to electronic discovery

In traditional ‘paper’ discovery, legal teams would physically gather boxes of paper documents from a client’s office. Today, the process has shifted online with virtual production requests where electronically stored information (ESI), such as emails, is collected. This shift to digital is more space-efficient but introduces challenges, such as safely transferring emails without altering metadata or losing parts of email threads and attachments.

What is MBOX? And how does MBOX relate to eDiscovery?

Not to be confused with the audio software or the illicit pill, MBOX in the eDiscovery and digital data context refers to the file format or family of file formats known for their ability to store large volumes of emails along with their attachments. This includes MBOXO, MBOXRD, MBOXCL, and MBOXCL2. Each variation of the MBOX format shares a core structure but differs slightly in format, which sometimes affects compatibility. Despite these differences, MBOX remains a favored choice over other methods like the MH Message Handling System or Microsoft Exchange Server used by Outlook.

How do MBOX files work?

MBOX files function as text files that store emails sequentially in plain text. This format allows them to be opened with simple text editors like Notepad++ on PCs or TextEdit on Macs. Each email within an MBOX file begins with the sender’s address, followed by other details like the receipt date, and concludes with the body of the email. This simplicity ensures that emails can be quickly reviewed without needing specialized email clients.

How do you use MBOX files in Gmail?

Gmail, one of the most notable users of the MBOX format, provides a straightforward ‘export’ feature. Users can download their mailboxes using Google Takeout, which facilitates the export of all emails or those under specific labels into a downloadable ZIP file containing the MBOX file. This feature is typical of several email clients that support MBOX, including Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and others.

Wondering how to open an MBOX file? Use a free, secure MBOX viewer!

While MBOX files are accessible through various programs, the free GoldFynch MBOX Viewer lets you open your MBOX file without uploading any of your data. This web application safeguards email metadata, which includes crucial information like creation and modification dates—essential for legal reviews. GoldFynch’s MBOX viewer opens the MBOX file and lets you view all the emails directly on your web browser without transmitting any data across the internet. So all your data remains confidential. It also lets you search your MBOX file. And conveniently, GoldFynch’s MBOX viewer runs through your web browser, so you can view your MBOX files using Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc. even on a Mac system. Similarly, you can use Google Chrome to view MBOX files on Ubuntu.

How do you open an MBOX file for eDiscovery?

While MBOX files can be accessed through various text editors and email clients, using dedicated eDiscovery software is paramount in legal contexts. This specialized software preserves the integrity of email metadata—vital for legal proceedings—and provides tools for advanced searches, tagging, redaction, and collaborative features like notes and comments. Metadata, which includes details such as creation dates, authors, and modification records, plays a crucial role in eDiscovery by providing a digital trail that documents the history and changes made to files.

Want a free service to open MBOX files and review them for eDiscovery? Try GoldFynch!

For efficient and secure handling of email data during legal reviews, it is essential to utilize eDiscovery-specific software when working with MBOX files. This approach not only safeguards the metadata but also enhances the review process with powerful tools designed for legal professionals. If you’re looking for such a platform, try GoldFynch! It has a free trial that you can sign up for in seconds without a credit card.

  • It costs just $27 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 upfront 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’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 3 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 3GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 3GB, 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.

Want to learn more about GoldFynch?