cautionLotus Notes (actually now IBM Notes) content is actually stored in a Notes database that has some unique characteristics that can cause problems when collecting Notes emails and attachments. E-Discovery practitioners will want to validate their own productions and those from opposing parties.  Notes problems can arise because Notes uses views to permit users to examine and export content, and those views can have the following limitations:

  • Time to Build Views – Omitted Emails: When Notes content is exported to a new Notes database, it takes time for that database to build its views. If users try to export data from the new Notes database before the views are complete, not all intended records may be exported. This can happen when you make a work copy of a custodian’s Notes emails and then try to export individual emails from that second database. Symptoms of this problem may include not exporting Sent emails or having missing time periods.
  • Field Truncation. The view may impose truncation limits on content in the fields in the view, e.g., the CC list may be cut off after a certain limit is reached, or only a certain number of characters may be included in the message body.

Here’s what you can do to see if your Notes e-discovery collection has encountered any of those problems:

  • Analytics – Frequency over Time; Sent & Received Email. Use analytics to review summaries of the emails produced by each custodian. Examine the analytics to see if all the custodians have sent and received emails and whether there are gaps in the date ranges for those emails.
  • Analytics – Maximum Characters Appearing in Fields. Analyze metrics for the fields that are output from Notes, e.g., the maximum number of characters that appear in the To, CC, BCC, Subject, and Email Body fields. When you look at a character-frequency distribution you would expect to see a long “tail.” If you see an abrupt drop-off at a certain point, possibly combined with a peak at the drop-off point, there may have been a truncation issue. If field-character freqeuncy data is not available directly in your review platform or ingestion platform, you can export the data to fields in a database and then use the analytics of that database to derive values.

This posting is based on the book, Guide to Managing Unstructured Content, Practical Advice on Gaining Control of Unstructured Content, expected to be published later this summer. You can sign up at to receive your copy of the book when it is available

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