Managing spreadsheets

Modified on Fri, 08 Jul 2022 at 11:06 AM


The nature of spreadsheets and the data they contain means they often require more careful management than other data types. Due to the conversion to PDF, excel files often come to hundreds of pages each within Smartbox. Browsers often cannot handle displaying such large files in Smartview.

Why spreadsheets differ to other data types

  • They are data dense: even a relatively small sized spreadsheet can contain millions of items and values and are stored much more efficiently than other file types. An equivalent sized word document contains a fraction of the data in a spreadsheet.

  • They can be very wide: unlike most other file types that can be displayed within the bounds of a page, spreadsheets often cannot be converted and displayed in their original form in PDF format. This results in incorrect formatting and the potential for thousands of pages which may not open in Smartview due to browser limitations.

  • They rarely contain grammatical context: our AI engine relies on grammatical and sentence structure analysis to identify PII. The typical structured data contained within spreadsheets does not allow for accurate analysis.

Why spreadsheets don't always need to be entirely disclosed

  • They often contain business-sensitive information: only a subject's personal information held by you is required to be disclosed. This immediately reduces the number of potential spreadsheets that might be disclosed.

  • They rarely contain only an individual's personal information: it is your responsibility to protect the identity of other individuals and business-sensitive data. Therefore it is safer and more efficient to extract the 1% of relevant data rather than attempting to redact the 99% of non-relevant data.

Therefore we always recommend, where possible, to work only with the data relevant to a case, and discard of the rest.

Uploading individual spreadsheets

  • Open the spreadsheet on your desktop
  • Identify the relevant data
  • Extract the relevant data into a new spreadsheet or word document
  • Upload to Smartbox

Managing spreadsheets within Smartbox

It is easier to quickly review spreadsheets in Smartbox by using View > Raw file rather than opening it in Smartview, which may take a significant time or your browser may not be capable of doing.

When you find a large spreadsheet containing irrelevant data: 

  • Download the original file from Smartbox
  • Open the spreadsheet on your desktop
  • Identify the relevant data
  • Extract the relevant data into a new spreadsheet or word document
  • Upload to Smartbox

N.B. Smartbox automatically splits excel files by sheet into separate files so that they can all be displayed.

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