eDiscovery solutions in Microsoft 365

Electronic discovery, or eDiscovery, is the process of identifying and delivering electronic information that can be used as evidence in legal cases. You can use eDiscovery tools in Microsoft 365 to search for content in Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 Groups, and Yammer teams. You can search mailboxes and sites in the same eDiscovery search, and then export the search results. You can use Core eDiscovery cases to identify, hold, and export content found in mailboxes and sites. If your organization has an Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 subscription (or related E5 add-on subscriptions), you can further manage custodians and analyze content by using the feature-rich Advanced eDiscovery solution in Microsoft 365.

eDiscovery solutions

Microsoft 365 provides three eDiscovery solutions: Content search, Core eDiscovery, and Advanced eDiscovery.

Key capabilities of Microsoft 365 eDiscovery tools.

  • Content search. Use the Content search tool to search for content across Microsoft 365 data sources and then export the search results to a local computer.

  • Core eDiscovery. Core eDiscovery builds on the basic search and export functionality of Content search by enabling you to create eDiscovery cases and assign eDiscovery managers to specific cases. eDiscovery managers can only access the cases of which they are members. Core eDiscovery also lets you associate searches and exports with a case and lets you place an eDiscovery hold on content locations relevant to the case.

  • Advanced eDiscovery. The Advanced eDiscovery tool builds on the existing case management, preservation, search, and export capabilities in Core eDiscovery. Advanced eDiscovery provides an end-to-end workflow to identify, preserve, collect, review, analyze, and export content that's responsive to your organization's internal and external investigations. It lets legal teams manage custodians and the legal hold notification workflow to communicate with custodians involved in a case. It allows you to collect and copy data from the live service into review sets, when you can filter, search, and tag content to cull non-relevant content from further review so your workflow can identify and focus on content that's most relevant. Advanced eDiscovery provides analytics and machine learning-based predictive coding models to further narrow to scope of your investigation to the most relevant content.

Comparison of key capabilities

The following table compares the key capabilities available in Content search, Core eDiscovery, and Advanced eDiscovery.

Capability Content search Core eDiscovery Advanced eDiscovery
Search for content Supported. Supported. Supported.
Keyword queries and search conditions Supported. Supported. Supported.
Search statistics Supported. Supported. Supported.
Export search results Supported. Supported. Supported.
Role-based permissions Supported. Supported. Supported.
Case management Supported. Supported.
Place content locations on legal hold Supported. Supported.
Custodian management Supported.
Legal hold notifications Supported.
Advanced indexing Supported.
Error remediation Supported.
Review sets Supported.
Support for cloud attachments and SharePoint versions Supported.
Optical character recognition Supported.
Conversation threading Supported.
Collection statistics and reports Supported.
Review set filtering Supported.
Tagging Supported.
Analytics Supported.
Predictive coding models Supported.
Computed document metadata Supported.
Transparency of long-running jobs Supported.
Export to customer-owned Azure Storage location Supported.

Here's a description of each eDiscovery capability.

  • Search for content. Search for content that's stored in Exchange mailboxes, OneDrive for Business accounts, SharePoint sites, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 Groups, and Yammer Teams. This includes content generated by other Microsoft 365 apps that store data in mailboxes and sites.

  • Keyword queries and search conditions. Create KQL keyword search queries to search for content that match query criteria. You can also include conditions to narrow the scope of your search.

  • Search statistics. After you run a search, you can view statistics of the estimated search results, such as the number and total size of items matching your search criteria. Other statistics include the top content locations that contain search results and the number of items that match different parts of the search query.

  • Export search results. Export search results to a local computer in your organization in a two-step process. When you export search results, items are copied from their original content location in Microsoft 365 to a Microsoft-provided Azure Storage location. Then you can download those items to a local computer.

  • Role-based permissions. Use role-based access (RBAC) permissions to control what eDiscovery-related tasks that different users can perform. You can users to built-in eDiscovery-related role group or create custom role groups that assign specific eDiscovery permissions.

  • Case management. eDiscovery cases in Core eDiscovery and Advanced eDiscovery let you associate specific searches and exports with a specific investigation. You can also assign members to a case to control who can access the case and view the contents of the case.

  • Place content locations on legal hold. Preserve content relevant to your investigation by placing a legal hold on the content locations in a case. This lets you secure electronically stored information from inadvertent (or intentional) deletion during your investigation.

  • Custodian management. Manage the people that you've identified as people of interest in the case (called custodians) and other data sources that may not be associated with a custodian. When you add custodians and non-custodial data sources to a case, you can place a legal hold on these data sources, communicate with custodians by using the legal hold notification process, and search custodian and non-custodial data sources to collect content relevant to the case.

  • Legal hold notifications. Manage the process of communicating with case custodians. A legal hold notification instructs custodians to preserve content that's relevant to the case. You can track the notices that were received, read, and acknowledged by custodians. The communications workflow in Advanced eDiscovery allows you to create and send initial notifications, reminders, and escalations if custodians fail to acknowledge a hold notification.

  • Advanced indexing. When you add custodial and non-custodian data sources to a case, the associated content locations are reindexed (in a process called Advanced indexing) so that any content deemed as partially indexed is reprocessed to make it fully searchable when you collect data for an investigation.

  • Error remediation. Fix processing errors using a process called error remediation. Error remediation allows you to rectify data issues that prevent Advanced eDiscovery from properly processing the content during Advanced indexing. For example, files that are password protected can't be processed since the files are locked or encrypted. Using error remediation, you can download files with errors, remove the password protection, and then upload the remediated files.

  • Review sets. Add relevant data to a review set. A review set is a secure, Microsoft-provided Azure Storage location in the Microsoft cloud. When you add data to a review set, the collected items are copied from their original content location to the review set. Review sets provide a static, known set of content that you can search, filter, tag, analyze, and predict relevancy using predictive coding models. You can also track and report on what content gets added to the review set.

  • Support for cloud attachments and SharePoint versions. When you add content to a review set, you have the option to include cloud attachments or linked files. This means that the target file of a cloud attachment or linked file is added to the review set. You also have the option to add all versions of a SharePoint document to a review set.

  • Optical character recognition (OCR). When content is added to a review set, OCR functionality extracts text from images, and includes the image text with the content that's added to a review set. This lets you search for image text when you query the content in the review set.

  • Conversation threading. When chat messages from Teams and Yammer conversations are added to a review set, you can collect the entire conversation thread. This means that the entire chat conversation that contains items that match the collection criteria is added to the review set. This lets you review chat items in the context of the back-and-forth conversation.

  • Collection statistics and reports. After you create a draft collection or commit a commit a collection to a review set, you can view a rich set of statistics on the retrieved items, such as the content locations that contain the most items that matched the search criteria and the number of items returned by the search query. You can also preview a subset of the results. Additionally, this includes the number of child items extracted from their parent items and added as separate items to the review set.

  • Review set filtering. After content is added to a review set, you can apply filters to display only the set of items that match your filtering criteria. Then you can save the filter sets as a query, which lets you quickly reapply the saved filters. Review set filtering and saved queries help you quickly cull content to the items that are most relevant to your investigation.

  • Tagging. Tags also help you cull non-relevant content and identify the most relevant content. When experts, attorneys, or other users review content in a review set, their opinions related to the content can be captured by using tags. For example, if the intent is to cull unnecessary content, a user can tag documents with a tag such as "non-responsive". After content has been reviewed and tagged, a review set query can be created to exclude any content tagged as "non-responsive". This process eliminates the non-responsive content from subsequent steps in the eDiscovery workflow.

  • Analytics. Advanced eDiscovery provides tools to analyze review set documents to help you organize the documents in a coherent manner and reduce the volume of documents to be reviewed. Near duplicate detection groups textually similar documents together to help you make your review process more efficient. Email threading identifies specific email messages that give a complete context of the conversation in an email thread. Themes functionality attempts to analyze themes in review set documents and assign a theme to documents so that you can review documents with related theme. These analytics capabilities help make your review process more efficient so that reviewers can review a fraction of collected documents.

  • Predictive coding models. Use predictive coding models to reduce and cull large volumes of case content to a relevant set of items that you can prioritize for review. This is accomplished by creating and training your own predictive coding models that help you prioritize the review of the most relevant items in a review set. The system uses the training to apply prediction scores to every item in the review set. This lets you filter items based on the prediction score, which allows you to review the most relevant (or non-relevant) items first.

  • Computed document metadata. Many of the Advanced eDiscovery features, such as Advanced indexing, conversation threading, analytics, and predictive coding add metadata properties to review set documents. This metadata contains information related to the function performed by a specific feature. When reviewing documents, you can filter on metadata properties to display documents that match your filter criteria. This metadata can be imported into third-party review applications after review set documents are exported.

  • Transparency of long-running jobs. Jobs in Advanced eDiscovery are typically long-running processes that are triggered by user actions, such as the adding custodians to a case, adding content to a review set, running analytics, and training predictive coding models. You can track the status of these jobs and get support information if you need to escalate issues to MS Support.

  • Export to customer-owned Azure Storage location. When you export documents from a review set, you have the option to export them to an Azure Storage account managed by your organization. Additionally, Advanced eDiscovery lets you customize what data is exported. This includes exporting file metadata, native files, text files, tags, and redacted documents saved to a PDF file.

eDiscovery subscription comparison

The following sections show the minimum subscription requirements for Content search, Core eDiscovery, and Advanced eDiscovery. Subscriptions that support Core eDiscovery also support Content search. Subscriptions that support Advanced eDiscovery also support Content search and Core eDiscovery.

  • Microsoft 365 E1 subscription
  • Microsoft 365 G1 subscription
  • Microsoft 365 F1 or F3 subscription, or F5 Security add-on
  • Office 365 Education A1 subscription
  • Office 365 E1 subscription

Core eDiscovery

  • Microsoft 365 E3 subscription
  • Microsoft 365 G3 subscription
  • Microsoft 365 F5 Compliance add-on or F5 Security & Compliance add-on
  • Microsoft 365 Education A3 or Office 365 Education A3 subscription
  • Office 365 E3 subscription

Advanced eDiscovery

  • Microsoft 365 E5 or Office 365 E5 subscription
  • Microsoft 365 E3 subscription with E5 Compliance add-on
  • Microsoft 365 E3 subscription with E5 eDiscovery and Audit add-on
  • Microsoft 365 G5 subscription
  • Microsoft 365 G5 subscription with G5 Compliance add-on
  • Microsoft 365 G5 subscription with G5 eDiscovery and Audit add-on
  • Microsoft 365 F5 Compliance add-on or F5 Security & Compliance add-on
  • Microsoft 365 Education A5 or Office 365 Education A5 subscription

Get started with eDiscovery

See the following articles to help you learn more and get started using the eDiscovery solutions in Microsoft 365.

Content search

Core eDiscovery

Advanced eDiscovery

eDiscovery roadmap

To see what eDiscovery features have been launched, are rolling out, or in development, see the Microsoft 365 Roadmap.

Training

Training your IT administrators, eDiscovery managers, and compliance investigation teams in the basics for Content search, Core eDiscovery, and Advanced eDiscovery can help your organization get started more quickly using Microsoft 365 eDiscovery tools. Microsoft 365 provides the following resource to help these users in your organization getting started with eDiscovery: Describe the eDiscovery and audit capabilities of Microsoft 365.