In litigation support, when we learn of a new matter, one of the first questions we ask is whether the e-mail that will be collected is in Outlook format. The reason we ask this question is because the second most popular e-mail format is Lotus Notes. Some companies are still using Lotus Notes for their business e-mail or they may have legacy e-mail data in Lotus Notes format.
Lotus Notes databases have an NSF file extension. However, an NSF file could be a regular Lotus Notes database or it could be an e-mail mailbox. They have slightly different database structures. Regular Lotus Notes databases might contain a document library of some sort.
When collecting Lotus Notes e-mail, one of the most important things you should attempt to do is to also collect the “Notes IDs” for each custodian. Lotus Notes databases typically have security enabled. It is role based security stored in what is referred to as the “Access Control List”. Each user is assigned a user.id file and it is used during the login process. Depending on the level of security enabled on the database, it may be more difficult to open a Lotus Notes database without the corresponding user.id file. The default level of access is “No Access”. It is possible for a Lotus Notes administrator to remove the security prior to sending the database to us and if that happens, the user.id file won't be as important.
If the user.id file is not provided with the Lotus Notes database, I usually try to open the database in Lotus Notes and cross my fingers that it works. If not, I will reach out to the company's IT contact so that they can hopefully provide the corresponding user.id file or create a new user.id file that will allow me to open the database.
I have had a few instances where the user.id file was not provided and it was impossible to get a user.id file from the company. These are usually instances where a lot of time has passed since the e-mail or the user.id file was created. I have been able to find vendors that figured out a way to gain access to the Lotus Notes database.