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You may assume that your digital footprint gets obscured forever when you delete files off your work computer, but in a civil litigation case, it is often the opposite.

The court can request files in the process of discovery, so it is best to know exactly how you should go about preserving or saving them.

Relevant material

According to FindLaw, even though it is routine to regularly delete mass collections of data off your company records for housekeeping purposes, it is best to stop that once a lawsuit is in action. Some proceedings may require otherwise irrelevant data to prove a point, including old emails or client information.

In order to be sure, you should take care to preserve any tangential information related to the case. External drives, individual computers, and discs should stay in storage. It is also important to keep multiple copies of some pieces of information or paperwork, in order to have some form of redundancy for safety’s sake.

Timing

You should immediately instruct your colleagues to save anything they write or send. It may be hard at the moment to tell what could be useful later on. You have a duty to not eliminate any sources of information once you know of a litigation trial, even if it reflects poorly on you.

You can use digital files to otherwise unprovable facts. It is also important to note that just hitting “delete” on a file may not entirely get rid of these items. Many businesses can retrieve deleted files on a device even after that. However, this process can take extra time and energy, along with a payment for an expert to retrieve the files.