Tips for Paralegals and Litigation Support Professionals

Tips for Paralegals and Litigation Support Professionals – February 2024

Share this article

February 5, 2024: Destroying Solid State Drives

The Tip of the Night for March 25, 2022, mentioned that the data on solid state drives cannot be degaussed because such drives do not use magnetic fields to store data. A USB flash or thumb drive, and most smartphones will use a solid state drive. A SSD stores data on individual microchips. Even if physical damage causes some sectors on the SSD to become inaccessible, data may still be retrieved from other sectors. A hard disk drive has spinning platters on which data is stored magnetically. The data on the new HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording) drives introduced by Seagate recently, can also not be effectively destroyed with a degausser.

In order to render the data on a solid-state drive permanently inaccessible, it’s necessary to cause thorough physical damage to the device. Drilling holes, or hammering a nail several times through a drive is not the worst approach, but some companies market machines which will more effectively puncture the drive. On the cheap end, a manual puncher like this model sold by Media Duplication Systems will take out several sectors on a SSD if the drive is reinserted for multiple hits. But can you really make all sectors of a SSD inaccessible with such a puncher?

Destroying Solid State Drives

Garner Products markets its PD-5 Hard Drive Destroyer with a ‘Solid-State Destroyer’ accessory that spikes 90 holes in a SSD.

Destroying Solid State Drives

However, the same company also sells a shredding device which can tear up a drive into multiple pieces.

A company based in Massachusetts, SEM, manufacturer ‘SSD disintegrators‘ which shred drives into bits that are less than 2mm squared. It’s necessary to use a different machine to physically destroy hard disk drives. These shredders are large, production copier sized machines, which can shred dozens of drives in an hour.

Destroying Solid State Drives
Destroying Solid State Drives

Even when a solid state drive has been broken into pieces no more than two inches across, it may still be possible to recover data, since the chips they use may be smaller than this. Securis, a company based in the D.C. metropolitan area, aims for a minimum shred size of 0.5 inch:

Destroying Solid State Drives

. . . but also offers shredding machines which grind drives to less than 2 millimeters – which is a specification required by the National Security Agency. See section 8.1 of the NSA’s NSA/CSS Requirements for Hard Disk Drive Destruction Devices.

The residue that is left looks like dust.

Destroying Solid State Drives

February 9, 2024: Tracert – Track Where Data Goes Online

The tracert command for Windows can trace the route that data takes from your network to a domain specified in the command. So if you go to command prompt and enter “tracert” followed by a web address results will be generated showing how many servers or routers data passes through to get its destination. Each ‘hop’ from one hardware device to another is numbered on the first column on the left.

track where data goes online

. . . the next three columns show the time in milliseconds that the data takes to move between each router or server. The connection between every two points is tested three times. When the times in each test are about the same, the connection should be stable.

If there are three asterisks listed between two points at the end of the tracert report this would be an indication that the connection is down. But if the tracert test does not error out at the end, asterisks listed for one or more hops may simply mean that the routers or servers being used are set up not to provide the necessary data. Only 1 or 2 asterisks on a row are a bad sign – the connection is spotty.

February 20, 2024: HP 600 Series Printers – Troubleshooting Blowbacks With Faded Ink

If you happen to be using printers from the HP 600 series, HP M601, M602, M603, M604, M605, M606, M607, and so on, and the printer is sending out blowbacks for which the ink is too faint for legibility, consider that there may be a mechanical problem with the printer that a layman can fix.

Today, when I sent jobs to my HP M601 printers, I consistently got print-outs for which the ink was very faded. So for example, I was getting print-outs of the quality of these on the right, rather than those of the more standard quality on the left.

troubleshooting blowbacks with faded ink

Under printer preferences, on the Paper/Quality tab, if EconoMode is selected, try unchecking this box and attempting to print out additional pages and see if you get a better result.

troubleshooting blowbacks with faded ink

If this doesn’t help, check and see if your HP printer includes an option under Printer Preferences on the Services tab under Device Servies to clean the printer.

troubleshooting blowbacks with faded ink

. . . if no such option is available, open up the front of the printer and remove the ink cartridge. Check and see if a roller bar like that in the below photo is loose. This padded roller bar with the light blue cog and a black piece of plastic on the left side, has a tendency to become misplaced when the printer is moved. If it is not in the correct position, printouts may come out too light.

troubleshooting blowbacks with faded ink

Without any special tools, you should be able to position this roller back in place like this:

troubleshooting blowbacks with faded ink

Slide the knob at the right end into the slot in the white bracket affixed to the printer, and then place the opposite end with black piece faxing down.

Tonight, I shifted this roller bar back into position, and the HP 600 series printer printed out hard copies at an normal resolution.

February 27, 2024: Find Keywords Quickly by Getting a List of Spelling Errors

If you want help getting a list of last names or other proper nouns which may be keywords in a long text excerpt, you can make use of the below Visual Basic macro which will generate a list of words that MS Word will identify as possible spelling errors.

If you simply plug in the code in a new module in Visual Basic:

Find keywords quickly

. . . the macro will review a Word document:

Find keywords quickly

. . . and output a list of the words which are not in the spell check dictionary:

Find keywords quickly

Thanks to Jay Freedman for posting this macro here. [Copy the text from the post on the Microsoft site, or remove the extra blank lines that result when you paste this code into Visual Basic to make it work].

Sub ListSpellingErrors()
Dim inDoc As Document
Dim outDoc As Document
Dim er As Range
Set inDoc = ActiveDocument
If ActiveDocument.SpellingErrors.Count > 0 Then
Set outDoc = Documents.Add
outDoc.Sections(1).Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary) _
.Range.Text = “Spelling errors in ” & inDoc.FullName
MsgBox “There are no spelling errors in this document.”
Exit Sub
End If
For Each er In inDoc.SpellingErrors
outDoc.Range.InsertAfter er.Text & vbCr
Next er
‘ optionally, to sort the output,
‘ remove the quote mark from the next line
‘ outDoc.Range.Sort
End Sub

Sean O'Shea on Email
Sean O'Shea
Litigation Paralegal
Sean O’Shea began working as a litigation support analyst at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison LLP in 1998, near the dawn of the electronic discovery era. From assisting clients with the implementation of information governance policies, to conducting electronic presentations for attorneys at trials, he has been involved in all aspects of litigation support work. Sean is a Relativity Certified Administrator and an ACEDS Certified E-Discovery Specialist. He’s currently employed as a litigation paralegal in New York City, and continues to advise attorneys on legal technology. Look for a new tip on each night on

*The views expressed in this blog are those of the owner and do not reflect the views or opinions of the owner’s employer. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. This policy is subject to change at any time. The owner is not an attorney, and nothing posted on this site should be construed as legal advice. Litigation Support Tip of the Night does not provide confirmation that any e-discovery technique or conduct is compliant with legal, regulatory, contractual or ethical requirements.

Share this article