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Metawhat? - An Example of Metadata

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Written By: Jason Haag, Senior Legal Technology Specialist

The first thing that most everyone spouts when asked about metadata is to say “it’s data about data”.  Like saying that phrase is all anyone needs to know.   Sounds simple right?   Well, like most things in life and litigation, things aren’t always so simple.

Best way to explain metadata is through use of an example.   So, let’s take a quick look at your standard Word document.    When you open the file you can see the written content, but just out of sight is a lot more information about that file.

In addition to the content, Word stores some potentially valuable information about the file. This is the “document metadata” and includes things such as the Created Date, Modified Date, Author(s), Comments, and much more:


All of this document metadata will travel around with the file and remain the same from computer to computer as long as the file is not re-saved from within Word.

In addition to the metadata that Word stores within the file, there is also metadata that each individual computer stores about the file. This is the “file system metadata” and includes things such as the Modified, Accessed, and Created Dates (also known as the MAC dates), and the file permissions. This file system metadata is more volatile than the document metadata as it is not stored within the file itself, but is stored separately.

Have more questions on metadata? Give us a call, we're happy to help.

If you liked this blog you might also be interested in reading: What is Big Data?

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Posted in Litigation Support, eDiscovery

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