eDiscovery Daily Blog

What’s in a (File) Name? More Than You Think – eDiscovery Best Practices


When you’ve worked in litigation support and eDiscovery as long as some of us have, you just think a little bit differently – even when it comes to naming files and folders on your computer.  In her excellent Litigation Support Guru blog, Amy Bowser-Rollins provides some best practices to think more like a litigation support person.

In her post Litigation Support Naming Conventions, Amy shares her database mindset with these concepts:

  1. Using Underscores Instead of Spaces: Amy illustrates how you can use underscores instead of spaces in your file and folder names (e.g., Custodian_Name_Shared_Drive Custodian_Name.zip).  So, why would that be important?  Simply, empty space typically signifies the “end” of a character string.  When an application sees a space, it sees the “end” and stops processing. When the full string is not processed, it won’t be properly represented on your computer screen, won’t copy into emails automatically as hyperlinks, etc.  Some people prefer dashes instead of underscores as underscores can be difficult to detect when the name is underlined.
  2. Zero Filled Numbers: Is it apparent why this one is important?  It’s for sorting purposes.  In names, numbers sort left to right instead of numerically, so AnnualReport10 comes before AnnualReport8 and AnnualReport9 (because the first digit of ‘10’ – ‘1’ – comes before ‘8’ and ‘9’).  To get them to sort properly, include leading zeroes (e.g., AnnualReport08, AnnualReport09 and AnnualReport10).
  3. Dates in Year-Month-Day Format: This is another naming convention that is recommended for sorting purposes, again because numbers in names sort left to right instead of numerically (e.g., 11-11-2014-IncomingData would sort before 03-09-2012-IncomingData).  Naming the files in Year-Month-Day format (e.g., 2012-03-09-IncomingData or 20120309-IncomingData) ensures that they are properly date sorted.  Personally, I prefer dates with dashes for readability.

Using Amy’s tips can help you think more like the geeks that some of us are!  Thanks, Amy!

So, what do you think?  Do you have any file and folder naming preferences?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.