Relativity Collection

Relativity Collection webinar

Relativity Collection provides you with a user-friendly application for obtaining electronically stored information (ESI) from a custodian's computer. It includes functionality for performing targeted collections of select files. In addition, the scout utility can remotely examine a custodian's file system retrieving file names and system metadata so that you can make informed decisions about data collection.

Collection supports these processes for the following data sources on both Windows and OS X operating systems:

  • File systems - You can inspect file names and other metadata, as well as collect files for this data source. When inspecting or scouting the file system, you have the option to exclude mapped network drives on the custodian’s machine, but you are provided with the UNC paths of these drives for future reference. Collection supports these processes for file system discovery on both Windows and OS X operating systems.
  • Network shares - You can discover network shares by specifying their UNC paths when you configure collection parameters. Collection can inspect and collect files on network shares for custodian machines running Windows operating systems with .NET 4.5.
  • Email messages - You can use Collection to inspect or collect email messages from Microsoft Exchange servers, Office 365, or Gmail. When you configure collection parameters, you can specify a date range for email messages that you want to discover. Custodian machines running Windows operating systems must be on.NET 4.5.
  • SharePoint - You can collect from SharePoint on-premises and online in Office 365, including full libraries and subsites.
  • OneDrive- You can use Collection to scout or collect documents within a custodian's OneDrive account.

Note: As of Collection 3.0, collaborative third parties can now author their own data source plugins to increase the types of data that can be collected with Relativity Collection. For more information, see Relativity Collection API on the Developer Documentation site.

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Collection compatibility matrix

The following matrix lists Collection releases compatible with different Relativity versions:

  Collection 9.5 Collection 4.0 Collection 3.5 Collection 3.4 Collection 3.2/3.3 Collection 3.0/3.1
Relativity 9.5 X X        
Relativity 9.4.321.2+   X X      
Relativity - 9.4.315.5     X X X  
Relativity 9.3     X* X* X* X
Relativity 9.2            
Relativity 9.1            
Relativity 9.0            
Relativity 8.2            

*Collection 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, and 3.5 are only compatible with Relativity and above.

Access the appropriate application version documentation using the following links:

Note: You can locate an application's version number by navigating to Applications & Scripts > Application Library tab. You must be a system admin to access this tab.

Collection basic concepts

Collection provides you with more control over the process of ESI acquisition by offering you multiple workflow options that can be tailored to your specific data collection needs even as they vary by case. You can use Collection to create targeted collections that include only selected files and folders. The following sections describe the basic concepts that underlie key features of Collection.


Scouting is the process used to inspect and inventory the file system on a custodian's machine, as well as external devices and optionally mapped drives. You can also scout email messages on a network share, Office 365, or Gmail. You can also scout multiple custodians' documents with the Microsoft Exchange and OneDrive plugins. Scouting retrieves system and file related metadata. You can use scouting to determine which documents are potentially relevant to a case before the actual collection process begins. You can save time by scouting because you aren't collecting the actual files, but only their metadata, which you can use to evaluate their potential relevance to a case. Scouting is required before running a targeted collection.

You can review and search scouted data on the Collection Builder tab to determine which files that you want to collect. Scouting requires Internet access. See Sending a scouting email or Scouting a local machine.

Targeted collection

The targeted collection process involves retrieving selected files from a file system, external hard drives, and network shares connected to the custodian's machine. In addition, you can perform targeted collections for email messages on a network share, Office 365, or Gmail. You can also collect multiple custodians' documents with the Microsoft Exhange and OneDrive plugins. Depending on the type of collection, it includes the actual files stored on the targeted media as and their metadata, or the actual email messages and their metadata.

In addition, Collection provides you with the ability to create collection lists, which represent custom groups of files stored on a custodian’s machine or email messages on an Exchange server. You can then use these collection lists as the basis for a targeted collection of files or email messages. You define a collection list by browsing or searching through the file names and metadata returned from scouting data assets of a custodian. You can select these data assets on the Collection Builder tab. Targeted collection requires Internet access. See Collection Builder tab.

Collection stores targeted collections in RCC files referred to as transport files that contain native files and the original metadata as discovered on a custodian’s machine. It stores email messages in Personal Storage Table (.pst) files that are added to a transport file. After extracting collection data from the transport file with the supplied extraction utility, you can view files or email messages with their original metadata in the extraction directory. However, if you move the files from this directory, you may alter their original metadata.

As a best practice, extract the files to their final location, such as the location used for processing. You can extract the native files any number of times to create multiple working copies, while preserving the original files in the transport file. This ability reduces the need to return to the source or custodian if any spoliation accidentally occurs to the files. See Extraction directory.

Locked or in use files

Collection copies any locked files or files currently in use, which minimizes disruption to businesses because custodians can continue working during the collection process. Collection initially attempts to collect any requested file whether or not it’s currently in use. When it encounters a file in use, Collection uses a copylocked routine, which creates a second temporary file, and then copies the contents of the original file to it. If the size of the original file changes during this process, Collection clears the contents from the temporary file and restarts the copying process. Collection performs this retry process up to three times.

This process doesn’t restart when a file becomes corrupt but its size doesn't change, which may result in a mismatch between the beginning and end of a file. This scenario may occur with Outlook Data Files (.ost) because they allocate additional slack space to reduce latency, but repeated testing hasn’t uncovered any corruption issues in these files when their size approximates 2 GB. Consequently, this workflow ensures that Collection generally collects the required files without corruption. You can later extract these locked files and view them just like any others that you have collected.