In the electronic age, huge amounts of data are being generated and stored electronically. Everyday, millions of electronic data pages are being created, transferred and stored in multiple locations. Most of this data is very valuable and critical, especially for businesses. Sifting through vast quantities of data for useful information is an arduous task, which is almost impossible manually. There are special tools available that enable faster and more accurate searches of data in vast databases.
Electronic data discovery is the process of searching, discovering, sorting and retrieving electronic data from any kind of an electronic source. Electronic data can be retrieved from virtually any kind of electronic data storage backup device including personal computers, backup media such as CD ROMs, floppy disks, tapes, hard disks etc., spreadsheets, CAD/CAM/CAE and graphics, personnel records, policy and procedure manuals, software and source code, internet and intranet content, internet service providers, fax servers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), telephone /security / network activity systems, cell phones, pagers, electronic/voice/video mail and special databases such as CRM or ERP databases.
The process of electronic data discovery involves some stages: generation of the inventory list; generation of the list of required data that is to be discovered; creation of validation tools and checklists; data retrieval using special software tools; and validation of the data. Some tools also have additional options, such as spell check, field validation, elimination of duplicate files, data conversion from any file format into any file format and others. Data filtering is done by identifying different files by their file extensions, or searching by keywords. Coding and indexing is used to capture source files, and the final files are converted into the required format.
Electronic data discovery is a very efficient, cost-effective and fast way of extracting useful electronic data from vast databases. Special professionals apply computer forensic techniques for data recovery and management. These techniques can save thousands of dollars and man-hours. There are many companies today that are providing exclusive electronic data discovery services.