Which kind of cases files or projects is MasterFile designed for -- large or small?


Although, MasterFile has been specifically designed to allow rapid and cost efficient deployment for small and medium litigation or project files between 100 and 50,000 documents, MasterFile’s easily manages litigation or project case files with approximately 500,000* pages of documents and multiple users/offices in different geographic areas.

*Actual number depends on compression of contents.

Do I need to switch my whole organization to MasterFile to use it?
What’s the best way to incorporate MasterFile into our cases and investigations?

MasterFile has been designed so you can incrementally expand its use. Your organization can start with just one user or just the key documents from one client/case file and add more later. You do not need to switch your whole organization to MasterFile.

MasterFile is transparent; it won’t disrupt your organization’s technology infrastructure or your current practices. And because MasterFile works just like e-mail, you’ll find it almost 2nd nature.

The following articles from our blog will help you get started quickly and easily.

Getting started right with MasterFile

What is the CaseMap importer and how does it work?

The CaseMap® Importer is designed to help CaseMap users quickly move their CaseMap 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 cases to MasterFile’s integrated document and fact repository.

A CaseMap case file is a collection of over a dozen “spreadsheets” such as the following:

the fact spreadsheet which holds details about a fact, its event dates, sources, etc.,
an issues spreadsheet where issues relevant to the case are set out and summarized,
various object spread sheets to hold details about people, organizations, documents, etc., relevant to the case.
Due to limitations in CaseMap each spreadsheet must be individually exported as in CPF (CaseMap Portable Format) and CSV (comma separated value) formatted reports using CaseMap’s “Export” function.

The CaseMap Importer, shown below, maps the various exported spreadsheets to MasterFile’s simplified and logical organization of Documents, Extracts, Facts, Player and Issue/Topics, as explained in detail in the post Importing CaseMap case files using the CaseMap Importer.

Can I create my own lists of document types, issues, players, etc?

Can MasterFile be used over the Internet by remote users or branch offices?


When you’re on the road using MasterFile, you have full, unrestricted access to all of MasterFile’s functions off-line or on-line over the Internet and without the complexity of the leading systems’ special “Internet options” and without the monthly costs of web based solutions. In fact using MasterFile costs less than all other competitive solutions. Whether you deploy MasterFile in-house on your own server or opt for MasterFile Hosted Services, you get the same unparalleled functionality — online or offline.

In addition, MasterFile’s underlying bi-directional replication technology from IBM Domino means you do not have to be connected to the Internet or your office server to continue to work. You can simply replicate over the Internet when necessary and don’t have to come to the office just to synchronize your notebook with the office database. See the next FAQ for more info.

Out of the office, data sent via the Internet can be encrypted to keep the data private and secure. The MasterFile/IBM Domino server software continues to control access to the database, using its private/public key authentication, as it does when you’re in the office.

For more information about MasterFile’s support for mobile users and as compared to other leading litigation support and document management systems see:

  • MasterFile’s support for mobile and disconnected users.
  • MasterFile vs the “Leading Legal Systems” over the Internet — 6 servers or 1?
  • Mobile and remote users — the truth about how “leading” litigation and document management systems really support them.

Do you have to be connected to the internet or the office network to use MasterFile?


MasterFile uses IBM’s Domino replication technology which means you do not have to be connected to the Internet or your office server to use MasterFile.

You keep a local “replica” copy of all or any part of a MasterFile database on your laptop that you can use at any time. For example, you can work with MasterFile without restriction while on a plane and when you reach your hotel, connect via the Internet to your office  to update and synchronize any work bi-directionally in one click.

If necessary, you can also encrypt the database replica on your notebook.

For more information about MasterFile’s support for mobile users and compared to other leading litigation support and document management systems see:

  • MasterFile’s support for mobile and disconnected users.
  • Mobile and remote users — the truth about how “leading” litigation and document management systems really support them.

Do I need any special software to use MasterFile via the Internet?


MasterFile is not browser-based rather it’s a full Windows application and connects to the MasterFile Domino seamlessly via the Internet through it’s own (optionally) encrypted VPN to the MasterFile/IBM Domino server in your office or MasterFile Hosted Services. Or, you can simply work off-line with a replica of the MasterFile database on your laptop and synchronize via the Internet or in your office with one click. Nothing else is needed.

There are many advantages why MasterFile only uses the IBM Domino server and underlying IBM Notes database. For example:

  • Full, unrestricted functionality and access to all your documents, extracts and facts even when you’re off-line and not connected to the Internet — on a plane, in a court room or at a client’s office, for example. You don’t need to be in a “mission critical” situation as suggested by some solutions.
  • Using MasterFile and IBM Notes/Domino costs less than other solutions’ SaaS/web based or “Internet” technologies. No extra hardware or software to buy, set-up, train and support. No escalating monthly costs. MasterFile Hosted Services is another option to consider with clear advantages over SaaS solutions.
  • It takes just a few minutes to give co-counsel or your clients secure access to a case database or limited portions of it, and their own replica copies, and have these all automatically kept up to date by MasterFile/IBM Domino replication. See next question and answer.
  • IBM Domino and Notes’ robust security mechanisms, private/public key authentication and encryption continue to work transparently – you have nothing new to learn or support.
  • Your technology staff don’t have other software, databases and related technology to maintain, support and trouble shoot for Internet access, which keeps your system and support staff costs down. In fact, Notes/Domino has very low system overhead, is virtually maintenance free, and will not conflict with other email or server software in your organization.

For more information about MasterFile’s support for mobile users and as compared to other leading litigation support and document management systems see:

  • MasterFile’s support for mobile and disconnected users.
  • Mobile and remote users — the truth about how “leading” litigation and document management systems really support them.

Can I give limited database access to third parties such as co-counsel or clients?


You can either give them access to the MasterFile database itself, restricting what documents, extracts and facts they can do or see, or create a replica which contains a limited set of documents, extracts and facts and just give them that database on CD, provide them limited access to your Domino Server, or use MasterFile Hosted Services for them.

Co-counsel or your clients will need a license of MasterFile to work in or view any MasterFile case database you grant access to – which can be one of your licenses if it’s not in use. Clients can also use MasterFile Personal Edition.

How does MasterFile handle large document sets?

MasterFile has been designed and priced specifically for small workgroups or the single user with small/medium sized litigation or research projects with 100 to 50,000 documents. It scales easily to handle cases or projects with 500,000* pages of documents and up to 40gb.

To handle larger document sets you can split bulky digital evidence such as audio/video segments or logical groups into their own databases as explained in Keeping documents or bulky digital data in separate databases.

When data sets involve millions of documents, typically e-mail boxes, the majority of these, often up to 90%, are irrelevant and non-responsive. A specialized tool like Clearwell’s E-Discovery Platform, can be used to cull the irrelevant material. The remaining responsives can be simply exported with a CSV load file or, if e-mails, as new PST or Lotus Notes mail boxes and loaded into MasterFile using Express Load for detailed review and case analysis.

* Actual number depends on compression of contents.

How does MasterFile handle native format e-discovery documents?
Can MasterFile convert and standardize all my documents into PDF format?
I do not have Adobe® Acrobat®, can I still make PDF files?
Can MasterFile OCR my image documents so I can search them?
Does MasterFile include imaging software?

MasterFile’s Load ‘n Go E-Discovery Platform lets you quickly load, cull and review documents and e-mail directly in native format.

MasterFile’s optional Evidence Cruncher lets you convert and OCR evidentiary files of 30 widely used desktop applications, including Word, Excel, scanned document images, etc. into industry standard searchable PDF — a process we call “crunching”. You can then view these “image over text” PDF files in Acrobat. The OCR or PDF text is also loaded directly into MasterFile so you use it to make extracts, for example. For more information on the Evidence Cruncher, loading documents, PDF conversion and OCR generation see the article Using the Evidence Cruncher and Express Loader — PDF conversion, OCR or loading documents and e-mail doesn’t get any simpler.

Note that individual documents or web pages can also be converted to PDF, and their text extracted (not OCRed) using the MasterFile PDF printer driver which lets you make PDF documents from any application.

MasterFile does not use proprietary imaging software; instead it lets you standardize your evidence in the widely used PDF standard.

Scanners come with software that creates TIF or PDF format documents directly. For low volumes (several hundred pages per day), we recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap which also comes with a free copy of Adobe Acrobat product as a bonus.

What is IBM Domino/Notes and why does MasterFile include it?

IBM Domino/Notes is a unique collaborative database technology designed for text and other qualitative information common to litigation, investigations and research projects. It is the industry leader in collaboration and knowledge management and has been used to create thousands of business applications such as human resource systems, transcription systems for the health industry and a system for global chemical manufacturers to monitor regulatory compliance. One of these applications is Notes e-mail with over 145,000,000 e-mail users so  it’s not surprising many people think of Lotus Notes as an e-mail program. Like many Domino/Notes applications MasterFile only uses IBM’s database technology; this neither affects your existing applications nor requires any change to your existing e-mail systems. In fact, MasterFile works along side Outlook/Exchange since it imports Outlook native email directly as Native files or from an Outlook PST postbox.

MasterFile includes Domino/Notes and installing MasterFile automatically installs the Notes database. (If you already use Notes, you’ll only need the MasterFile partial installer.) And the Domino server can either be installed yourself following our installation guide and video, or you can have us do that for you. As far back as 2004, IBM’s Domino server was cited for its ease of installation by Network Computing and others and installation still remains as easy: “Our base installation of Domino server went quickly and smoothly. Pop the CD into the server, answer a few questions and you’re on your way.”

How are documents stored in a MasterFile case database?

MasterFile imports native, PDF and image documents as well as other formats like audio into a case database. When you have native documents, if a PDF version exists, it’s imported simultaneously. In the case of Outlook e-mail or native e-mail like .MSG or .EML files a PDF version is created on-the-fly and saved with the native  in MasterFile. You can also create PDFs of those documents that don’t have PDF versions or use the Evidence Cruncher to create them in bulk both either before or after importing. Searchable PDF is the standard format MasterFile uses from which extracts, facts and so forth are created, and also for production and Bates stamping unless of course you are producing in native format.

Documents are loaded or saved from/to Windows directories by simple drag and drop or by using MasterFile’s bulk loading utilities.

MasterFile’s repository is unique because it stores, organizes and indexes everything related to a case or research project: scanned document images, transcripts, authorities, research, electronic evidence such as photographs, completed work-product documents, work-product, extracts, facts, notes, extracts of critical information, document profile information (such as author, date, document type, security information), etc.

Moreover, both the document files and the database profile information is not scattered across, dozens or hundreds of Windows folders — that also need to be kept secure. By storing the document files themselves inside the database there are no external file links to break — one of the biggest headaches with CaseMap, for example, when users go mobile just to work at home. Instead, all of a case’s related case information is inside its own MasterFile case database. That give mobile users robust security and advanced replication and synchronization, gives you simplified backup/recovery (as there’s only one file per case to worry about) and sets no limits on your number of cases (except your disk space of course!). All that is in one product — thereare  no different and complex  products to learn and manage.

Is training and support included?

When you purchase MasterFile, you get one hour training included free. We recommend you first look at our Quick Start Concepts and Tutorial videos and accompanying PDF guides and that will enable you to focus on the specific areas for training. You can also purchase in-depth training in half day blocks for 1-10 attendees at one flat rate.

Support and maintenance for MasterFile is included in your annual support and maintenance fee. You can call or email (faster response) and we get back to you via phone, email or even via screenshare if needed. New releases are provided free as part of maintenance. Note that support does not cover your physical workstation and server, network or certain other issues; please see the support policy for more details.