If you spend any time doing electronic discovery, chances are you'll soon be arguing about "page equivalency" -- that is, how many pages of data can one assume is in a gigabyte of electronic storage. The matter comes up frequently when parties argue about the probable cost of e-discovery. Here's how e-discovery commentator Craig Ball describes such an argument:
Your Honor, Megacorp's employees each have 80 gigabyte laptops. That means we will have to review 40 million pages per machine. Converting those pages to TIF images will cost Megacorp $4 million per laptop.
The quote is from Ball's article, "Expert Explodes Page Equivalency Myth," from Law.com. According to Ball, page-equivalency claims are certain to be wrong unless one considers the type of data that is being stored: e-mails, spreadsheets, word-processing documents, photos, and so on. Here's Ball again:
Now, with more e-discovery miles in the rear-view mirror, it's clear we've got to look at individual file types and quantities to gauge page equivalency, and there is no reliable rule of thumb geared to how many files of each type a typical user stores. It varies by industry, by user and even by the life span of the media and the evolution of particular applications. A reliable page equivalency must be expressed with reference to both the quantity and form of the data, e.g., "a gigabyte of single page TIF images of 8-1/2-inch x 11- inch documents scanned at 300 dots per inch equals approximately 18,000 pages."
If you're going to argue with co-counsel or a court about e-discovery--which will happen in situations when there's no expert there to rely upon--you're going to have to know the jargon. Add Ball's article to your growing file of research materials . . . which, hopefully, is growing.