As I sit each day gazing into multiple computer monitors, working on various computer forensics or ediscovery projects, it occurs to me that, despite having lots of advanced forensic software and powerful data indexing tools, I regularly find myself reaching for a few small pieces of software that I have been using for so long I don’t even remember discovering them. I will discuss two of these tools here, not strictly for nostalgic value, but because they are potentially very useful to the attorney or paralegal working with computer forensics or ediscovery data sets on a day to day basis. Everyone has their favorite programs, and if two of mine can make your life easier, I am happy to share!
The first program is Karen’s Directory Printer, part of a collection of tools called Karen’s Power Tools. The “Karen” was Karen Kenworthy, a skilled programmer who wrote simple and efficient tools and who sadly, passed away in 2011. The Directory Printer program is so simple in its design and so useful in its purpose that I find myself lost without it when working a machine where I don’t have it installed. It is even in the install package of programs that go onto any new work computer here at Peak Forensics.
Directory Printer, as its name implies, will output a “.TXT” text file listing the contents of a folder. If desired, the program can also output the contents of any sub-folders within your selected folder, and can include additional information including file size, file dates, full path and various other items.
How does Karen’s Directory Printer help me? Often, I receive a folder full of files (or many folders full of files!) and am asked to report on them. Sometimes the report is simply a listing of file names, other times name and hash value or name and size is requested. Additionally, if the data set is smaller and a privilege review log is needed, I can use Karen’s Directory Printer to generate a full listing of all files and folders and then simply import that listing into Microsoft Excel. Once in Excel, the file names and paths (along with any other included info) are sort-able and columns can be added to account for other information like Bates labels, reviewed/not reviewed, or comments.
While the program Karen’s Directory Printer does not solve all the questions of the cosmos, it does what it is designed to do very efficiently and without any fanfare. It’s free and small, two other nice features, and can be downloaded from various web sources including www.download.cnet.com and www.Majorgeeks.com with a simple search for Karen’s Directory Printer.
The second program I find invaluable, for many of the same reasons as Directory Printer, is called Bulk Rename Utility. I use Bulk Rename Utility whenever I am dealing with large quantities of files that need to be renamed in some way. Most often, the file names need to either be prepended or appended with some information I am providing, perhaps a Bates number or a hash value.
Bulk Rename Utility appears very daunting when a new user opens it for the first time. I can tell you that this sensation never truly goes away for me, although I now see it as a testament to the powerful ability of the program itself. To distill that thought down a bit, there are LOTS of options! Once you decide what operation you need to perform on your folder of file names, select your renaming options and click “Rename” and voila, the work is done. Renaming options include removing a character string from various places in the file name, adding a string to various places, adding a date, adding multiple numbering schemes, case changes, folder name changes and even bulk file moves or copies to different locations combined with your name changes. The amount of granular control over a bulk renaming that this programs offers is fantastic.
One of the most useful features of Bulk Rename Utility is that as you define the changes you want to make, a preview of the new file name appears next to the current, unchanged file name. Talk about being able to look before you leap! Forget to add the zero padding at the beginning of a prepended Bates number for 10,000 file names? You will catch that mistake before you even make it with the change preview.
Bulk Rename Utility can be downloaded for free from the author’s web page at www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk.
Give these great programs a try for yourself and feel free to reach out to me and ask any questions if you aren’t sure how to make the program do what you need. Both are very simple, but very powerful and useful tools I use regularly in computer forensics and ediscovery projects, but that you can use in your work, too.
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Category:Forensics and E-Discovery