A working knowledge of the science of computer forensics should be an essential part of every litigation counsel’s e-discovery toolkit. Unlike traditional e-discovery, which only compels the exchange of computer data that is reasonably accessible, computer forensics uncovers computer data that is hard to reach, has been lost/destroyed or is too voluminous/disparate to comprehend.
Although the information uncovered after a forensic analysis can often alter the course of a case, it can be risky and expensive. It generally costs between $500 and $800 to collect and preserve a hard drive. Moreover, a licensed computer forensics specialist (whom you must engage if you want your evidence to hold up in court) will charge between $100 and $250 per hour to analyze the collected information, and even though you’ve spent the money, there is no guarantee the analysis will yield a shred of information that is useful to your case. Therefore, to hedge your company’s risk, you should understand how computer forensics can help your case before engaging an expert.