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Information Technology Services

Scanning for Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

using identity finder


  • There may be a discrepancy between the number of results from the manual scan verses what was reported in the email to you. This is most likely due to permission differences between the manual scan and the automated scan.
  • If you are using a laptop, you should plug it into a power outlet rather than running on battery power while scanning to avoid draining the battery quickly.
  • Remember: ID Finder is only a tool to aid in the process of finding confidential data, so it may not find all PII on your computer and it also may think some information on your computer is PII, when it is not. This is to be expected.
  • The first time you manually scan, the process may take several hours depending on the amount of data on the machine. This is expected. Subsequent scans will be shorter as IDFinder will not scan files that were unchanged since the last search.

To manually scan for PII:

  1. Open Identity Finder (v 8.1): Mac: Look in your Applications Folder.
    Windows: Click Start > All Programs > Identity Finder.
    Important: The initial scan can be time-consuming, as it scans all files. We recommend that you run an initial scan at the end of your work day and leave your computer on. Subsequent scans only look for changes and will not take as long.
  2. To begin the scan, click Start.
    If you are using Outlook on Windows, you will be prompted to enter your Secondary Password.
    A window will appear showing you the progress of the scan. Identity Finder will continue scanning even if you close the progress window.
  3. When the scan completes, click Advanced.
    A list of files containing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) will appear.
  4. For each item displayed in the list, click on the file to view its contents in the pane on the right. Files that contain multiple matches have a triangle to the left of the item. Click the triangle, then click each of the individual reported matches to display the contents in the pane on the right (see Figure 1).
Figure 1.
Figure 1.


Learn how to handle scan results.

Note: If the scan doesn’t find all the PII that was noted in the email, please contact your DSO [BC sign-in required].


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