Email Time Zones

How Outlook Stores Time Zones

Outlook keeps track of time based on Universal Time (formerly Greenwich Mean Time). It does not support an absolute time option for email messages traveling between different time zones and multiple senders.

Why Email Can Show Different Time

You might notice that the dates on the emails messages can be off by some hours or even display multiple times. The reason the times are different is that whenever you open an email, Outlook will automatically convert UT to the local time on your computer or network server, changing the time fields (e.g. sent, received). The same email can be sent to multiple recipients in different time zones.

Pros and Cons of Using Local Time and UT (GMT)

Pros. If you receive emails in multiple time zones, UT will probably avoid confusion as many international companies work in UT; not having to convert the time zones in your logs when reviewing emails and the time is always (mostly) guaranteed to be consistent. In
Lexbe eDiscovery Platform the deduplication hash calculations are created on hash values for emails combining metadata fields such as sent date, date received, etc., generally using UT timestamps rather than local time. For this reason, two copies of the same email processed in different time zones would not be treated as duplicates.

Cons. When you keep your computer on local time, from times to times it can get you into trouble. Most of the problems arise from forgetting to change to daylight savings and back. Other issues may also arise while sending/receiving emails from different time zones, forgetting to change the time. Not all programs store timestamps in UT typically adjusting the date depending on the end user’s selected time zone. It will produce different output during e-Discovery processing depending on the chosen processing time zone value.

Loading Emails & Extracting Metadata

How the emails are loaded and metadata extracted is consistent with our job procedures and eDiscovery industry practices generally. This is a more complicated issue than it might first appear. 

>Email times are stored in Outlook MSGs as Universal Time (GMT) and a local offset is used (local computer) to adjust to local time when displaying in Outlook. If you change the local time on your computer, the displayed 'time' in an Outlook email will change too. 

>On upload to Lexbe, the Universal Time (GMT) of the email is extracted and stored. If no offset is applied on upload, GMT will be the time on the email. This is a recommended practice when email involve Custodians who travel a lot to keep email consistent (see below). 

>We and others in the industry generally do not try to adjust for daylight savings time, as that would be very expensive as the individual time zones and emails would need to be all coordinated, over time, and per Custodian. In different parts of the country and world time zones shift on different days of the year. Also daylight savings times have changed over time. An email from 2005 is different than 2012 in applying Daylight Savings Time. 

>In most cases the exact time of an email may not be critical, justifying the additional costs to get the time zones all exactly right, and it is more important that the time be consistent (to allow ordering of emails) and users understand the complexity of the time issue and how Outlook stores email time as Universal Time (GMT). Usually more important is consistency of approach. 

>MSGs can also be downloaded individually or in bulk if this is an issue and the individual time checked on a local computer, subject to that computer's settings. 

>Once explained, recipients of productions should understand this issue. If the specific time an email is sent is important, then the Universal Time (GMT) can be downloaded to Excel and then a Custodian can be applied more specifically. We'd be happy to provide further assistance with this if needed. 

>When relative time zone is critical, we recommend bringing email in at Universal Time (GMT) for consistency of time between custodians and time zones, but at the cost of the time always being incorrect as displayed (if not in London). For this reason this in not generally done in US-based cases without substantial travel. 

How Time Zones are Assigned in Lexbe

1- During Self-Service Upload

You can set up a time zone when you upload batches of files in Lexbe eDiscovery Platform from the Case>Add Case Documents page. The default is Universal Time (offset provided). It can be changed to local time zone of upload batch as needed.




2 - Part of Lexbe eDiscovery Jobs

If the files uploaded were part of an eDiscovery job, we process the job of converting and loading using EST (Eastern Time), which we process as Greenwich Mean Time (Universal Time) - 5 hours. If the exact time of emails in a case is important, email can be processed to GMT/Universal time, and a log of custodian settings and travel can be obtained to calculate, but this is usually too expensive for marginal benefit. MORE

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Lexbe eDiscovery Platform uses the following standardize specification for processing dates and assigning time zones:

 Date Field    
 Example  Description
 DATESENT 
 04/15/2012  Date email was sent in the the format MM/DD/YYYY using local time zone provided.  If no local time is provided, Universal Time (formerly GMT) is used.
     
 TIMESENT
 02:45:22 PM  Time email was sent in the the format HH:MM:SS XM using local time zone provided.  If no local time is provided, Universal Time (formerly GMT) is used.
     
 DATERCVD  04/15/2012  Date email was sent in the the format MM/DD/YYYY using local time zone provided.  If no local time is provided, Universal Time (formerly GMT) is used.
     
 TIMERCVD  02:45:22 PM  Time email was received in the the format HH:MM:SS XM using local time zone provided.  If no local time is provided, Universal Time (formerly GMT) is used.
     
 MODIFYDATE  04/15/2012  Date Last Modified for native files in the the format MM/DD/YYYY using local time zone provided.  If no local time is provided, Universal Time (formerly GMT) is used.
     
 MODIFYTIME  02:45:22 PM  Time native file was modified in the the format HH:MM:SS XM using local time zone provided.  If no local time is provided, Universal Time (formerly GMT) is used.

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Other Email Metadata Imported To Lexbe 


When you upload MSG or PST files to a case in
Lexbe eDiscovery Platform, it will also extract the metadata (below) from each email and writes it to Lexbe eDiscovery Platform standard fields.