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The field of digital forensics plays a critical role during legal investigations on different tech devices, including computers, hard drives, smartphones, networks, databases, etc. When called upon to perform some forensic analysis by either the court or a corporate entity, there exist some forensics imaging tools that you should arm yourself with.
Top 10 Best Computer (Digital) Forensic Imaging Tools
These forensic imaging tools help you collect evidence and determine how hackers or malicious, tech-savvy individuals executed a crime. This article will discuss the top 10 forensic imaging tools you should familiarize yourself with in 2022.
- 1. EaseUS Todo Backup Home
- 2. ProDiscover Forensic
- 3. Sleuth Kit (+Autopsy)
- 4. Google Takeout Convertor
- 5. PALADIN
- 6. Encase
- 7. SIFT Workstation
- 8. FTK Imager
- 9. X-Ways Forensics
- 10. Volatility Framework
What Is a Digital Forensic Tool?
A digital forensic tool allows you to discover, extract, and preserve digital evidence during forensic investigations. It also enables you to decrypt and evaluate the information collected. Forensic tools help you to capture vital information from databases, computers, networks, smartphones, the internet, disk drives, etc.
A forensic tool could exist in hardware or software and is deployed independently or as part of a suite. These tools also work on different operating systems, including:
Mostly, law enforcers investigating crimes are the ones that use digital forensic tools. Also, incident response teams can use these tools to address cyber security issues in the banking sector, insurance industries, or financial institutions.
Digital forensic imaging tools come in many types to fulfill different objectives. These tools exist in either hardware or software form. Let's discuss the features of each tool.
Find how to make a forensic copy of a hard drive along with its benefits and types. Also, know about the best disk cloning tool to make forensic copies.
As a forensic imaging tool, EaseUS Todo Backup Home allows you to make identical copies of an original hard drive and transfer the data to a new disk. It provides an excellent way to backup hard drive without losing any files/system settings.
- It offers security zone protection of data against ransomware attacks.
- Allows you to clone system and related boot partitions when you want to migrate or move to another OS.
- Allows you to mount or unmount an image backup to obtain individual files.
- It provides an extra layer of insurance for a backup image by enabling you to save offsite copies.
- It sends an email notification with a detailed report of a given execution result.
OS Type: Windows 11/10/8/7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
File System: NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, FAT12
As the name suggests, ProDiscover Forensic allows one to locate data within a computer drive. It's suitable for legal procedures because it allows you to safeguard collected evidence and generate quality reports. One factor that makes ProDiscover Forensic very popular is: You can obtain Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) from JPEG files at your disposal.
- It provides a quicker option for searching through suspicious files.
- It allows you to view someone's internet history and determine their recent activities on the web.
- Allows you to make a full copy of the suspected disk and safeguard the original.
- Allows forensic experts to save images in .dd formats hence easy to import or export.
- You can conveniently run a captured image using VMware.
OS Type: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris
File System: FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, HFS, HFS+, UFS
As a forensic analysis tool, Sleuth Kit allows you to critically evaluate a hard drive or smartphone using a graphical interface. You can also perform email analysis by searching through all documents and images on the target computer.
- You can track user activity using a provided graphical interface.
- Allows you to group files as either documents or images for easy identification.
- It supports smartphone forensic analysis and lets you obtain data about call logs, SMS, and saved contacts.
- Allows you to track and examine communication made via email.
- Allows you to view pictures using thumbnails seamlessly.
OS Type: Linux, Mac OS X, Windows (Visual Studio and mingw), Solaris, CYGWIN, Open & FreeBSD
File System: NTFS, FAT, exFAT, UFS 1, EXT2FS, EXT3FS, Ext4, HFS, ISO 9660, YAFFS2
This forensic imaging tool helps you convert email messages and their attachments from Google Takeout. You can then extract and process the data obtained from the messages and attachments to interpret some evidence.
- Supports batch mode analysis of files obtained from Google Takeout to save time.
- Allows you to export multiple files at one from Google Takeout for convenient analysis.
- It enhances the data conversion process due to its “dual-mode” function.
- Allows you to convert email messages and their attachments to cloud-based email service.
OS Type: Windows 11/10/8/7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS
File System: HTML, Outlook PST, PDF, EML, NSF
This Ubuntu-based forensic imaging tool allows you to investigate malicious material in more than 100 different ways. PALADIN seeks to simplify the forensic analysis process and obtain the desired results within a shorter time.
It's an open-source backup software that allows you to unearth any type of information you want effortlessly.
- It supports Windows 64-bit and Windows 32-bit devices.
- This forensic tool is compatible with a USB thumb drive.
- Allows you to work on cyber forensics tasks across 33 different categories.
OS Type: Windows, Mac OS, Linux
File System: NTFS, HFS+, FAT32, EXT4, exFAT
Encase forensic imaging tool allows you to obtain forensic information from hard drives. You can perform an in-depth analysis of documents, audio, or pictures to use as evidence.
- Allows you to obtain evidence from encrypted devices, including tablets and smartphones.
- Allows you to search and prioritize evidence based on its credibility.
- Allows you to perform forensic analysis on mobile devices and create complete reports.
- Allows you to perform different analysis types, including deep and triage analysis.
OS Type: Windows, Linux, UNIX
File System: FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, CD, EXT2/3/4
SIFT (SANS Investigative Forensics Toolkit) uses innovative forensic technologies for detailed digital investigations. This tool examines a raw disk via a read-only technique and hence doesn't alter the original pieces of evidence.
- It supports 64-bit operating systems.
- It provides an effective way to utilize memory since it immensely saves on disk space.
- It applies the latest forensic analysis technologies in the market.
- It allows convenient installation through a command-line interface (SIFT-CLI).
OS Type: Windows 7, Mac OS X, Linux
File System: FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2/3/4, UFS1/2, ISO9060 CD, HFS+, Raw Data, Swap Space
FTK Imager is a forensic tool that allows you to make copies of data and leave the original evidence unaltered. It also allows you to group forensic data based on pixel and file size to minimize the chances of collecting irrelevant data.
- Offers clear data visualization using charts.
- Performs advanced data analysis using automated equipment.
- Allows you to recover passwords for 100+ applications.
- Allows you to manage reusable profiles for the sake of other forensic investigations.
OS Type: Windows 10/8/7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
File System:FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, HFS, VXFS, EXT2/3/4, ReiserFS3
X-Ways is a perfect tool for computer forensic examiners since it allows them to perform disk cloning and imaging. It also provides an easier way for forensic examiners to collaborate by remotely accessing similar files.
- Allows you to analyze computers remotely
- Can read file partitions on .dd images
- This forensic imaging tool supports bookmarks and annotations
- Provides you with templates to edit binary data
- Allows you to maintain the authenticity of data using write protection
OS Type: Windows 10/8/7, Windows Vista, Windows XP
File System: FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, TFAT, EXT2/3/4, UDF, CDFS
Volatility Framework is a critical imaging tool that helps forensic and memory analysis of a target device. Based on the data found in RAM, this forensic imaging tool allows you to check the runtime state of a given computer system.
- Allows you to check each Mac operation based on the provided plugins.
- With the help of its API, the Volatility Framework allows you to quickly monitor Page Track Entry (PTE) flags.
- It supports Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR).
- It displays a failure command if a given service doesn't start as required.
OS Type: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android
File System: Raw dumps, Firewire, Expert Witness, Windows Hibernation Files, LiME, Mac-O, HPAK, Virtualbox ELF64 Core Dumps
How to Use a Digital Forensic Imaging Tool
If you want to perform a forensic imaging task, the most recommended tool to use is EaseUS backup software. This tool allows you to clone your current disk to a new disk. It also allows you to back up your data and files to different locations, including an external hard drive, network, NAS, or Google drive, Dropbox.
Look no further if you're wondering how to get started with this imaging software. This section will outline the simple steps to download and install this software on your computer.
Step 1. Open EaseUS Todo Backup and choose "Create Backup" on the home page, click "Select backup contents".
Step 2. As you want to back up your Disk, just click "Disk" to start back up.
Step 3. EaseUS Todo Backup offers you options. You can choose to back up a whole disk or a certain partition as you need. And then click "OK".
Step 4. Select the destination where you want to save the backup. You can choose to save the disk to a local drive or to NAS.
Step 5. Click "Backup Now", after the backup process is completed, you can right-click any one of the tasks to further manage your backup such as recover it, create an incremental backup, etc.
In this article, we've talked about the top 10 forensic imaging tools. The tool that emerges the winner amongst these is EaseUS Todo Backup Home software. The 1st runner-up is ProDiscover Forensic, while the 2nd runner-up is Sleuth Kit (+Autopsy).
Compared to the first and second runners-up, EaseUS Todo Backup Home stands out because it supports various devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. The tool also allows you to make identical copies of an original hard drive and transfer them elsewhere without losing any files/data.
You can also make offsite copies of data, adding an extra layer of insurance for backups. Moreover, EaseUS sends an email notification with a detailed report for every execution result.
Forensic Imaging Tools FAQs
To know more about forensic imaging tools in 2022, you can read through the questions and answers below.
1. What Is the Best Forensic Imaging Tool?
The best forensic imaging tool in 2022 is EaseUS Todo Backup Home. The tool allows you to perform disk cloning and save backup copies remotely. This software comes with a trial version that is free to download and install. It supports different operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
2. What is Digital Forensics Software?
Digital forensic software is a tool that allows you to perform forensic analysis on digital platforms like computer hardware, smartphones, servers, the network, the internet, etc. The tool also allows you to evaluate the authenticity of information obtained during the analysis.
3. Can You Do Forensics on Images?
Yes, with the help of a forensic imaging tool, you can do forensics on images. For example, EaseUS Todo Backup Home allows you to mount or unmount an image backup and analyze individual files to obtain pieces of forensic evidence. Additionally, an imaging tool like ProDiscover Forensics allows you to obtain Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) from JPEG files at your disposal. This enables a more straightforward analysis of forensic images.
4. Which Tool Is Used for Analysis of Forensic Images?
One imaging tool that can help you analyze forensic images effectively is Sleuth Kit (+Autopsy.) This tool uses command-line instructions to examine smartphone and computer hard drives forensic images. It has a plug-in architecture allows you to incorporate other image analysis functionalities.
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