Size matters

By | 4th September 2012

One of the aspects of electronic documents which puzzles litigation lawyers is the amount represented by a megabyte or a terabyte and all gradations between and beyond!

I have seen lawyers’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of a gigabyte.  All they want or need is to be able to visualise what is involved. After all, we all had an idea of what was meant by a file or a bankers’ box, even though both came in different sizes. Similarly with a lever arch file, which might hold different numbers of sheets of paper depending on the size of the sheets and/or the ingenuity of the person filling the file.

My colleague John Lapraik (formerly a litigation partner at Kennedys) likes to perform a double jump and translate the electronic to paper in his mind, filling the resulting lever arch files without mentioning the process to the lawyers. He can then explain that “x” amount of gigabytes equates to “y” miles of lever arch files!

There are many excellent commentators in the e-discovery/disclosure field and one of the best known is Ralph Losey. Reading his e-Discovery Team blog recently I noticed a side block containing a ready reckoner on just this subject and I feel sure he will not mind if I reproduce it here:

How much data do you have?

  • CD = 650 MB = 50,000 pages. DVD = 4.7 GB = 350,000 pages. DLT Tape = 40/80 GB = 3 to 6 Million pages.
  • Super DLT Tape = 60/120 GB = 4 to 9 Million pages.

Page Estimates:

  • 1 MB is about 75 pages;
  • 1 GB is about 75,000 pages (pick-up truck full of documents).
  • Aver. pgs. per email: 1.5 (100,099 pages per GB).
  • Aver. pgs. per word document: 8 (64,782 pages per GB).
  • Aver. pgs. per spreadsheet: 50 (165,791 pages per GB).
  • Aver. pgs. per power point: 14 (17,552 pages per GB).

For the average .PST or .NSF Email File:

  • 100 MB .PST file is 900 emails and 300 attachments.
  • 400 MB .PST file is 3,500 emails and 1,200 attachments.
  • 600 MB .PST file is 5,500 emails and 1,600 attachments.
  • A 1.00 GB .NSF file is 9,000 emails and 3,000 attachments.
  • A 1.5 GB .NSF file is 13,500 emails and 4,500 attachments.

Note: Many variables will affect ALL of the actual numbers above, including especially large image and video files, and recursive files.

Bits and Bytes Sizes:

  • 8 bits are equal to 1 byte (one or two words),
  • 1,024 bytes are equal to 1 kilobyte (KB).
  • 1,024 kilobytes (KB) are equal to 1 megabyte (MB or Meg).
  • 1,024 megabytes are equal to 1 gigabyte (GB or Gig) (truck full of paper).
  • 1,024 gigabytes are equal to 1 terabyte (TB) (50,000 trees of paper).
  • 1,024 terabytes are equal to 1 petabyte (PB) (250 Billion Pgs. of Text).
  • 1,024 petabytes are equal to 1 exabytes (EB) (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes).

All of this is designed to make it easier for lawyers to come to terms with issues which arise in the field of e-discovery/disclosure so that we all can feel more comfortable operating in that environment.

As a well known organisation in this country has it, every little helps, and if this list does not convince you that size matters, nothing will!