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Disk Duplicator and Imager

Extracting files directly from a potentially failing storage device is dangerous because the media can stop working at any moment. So the operator must image the data quickly and safely from the original HDD to a backup HDD. Only then proceed with further evidence analysis using the backup copy.

Atola Insight Forensic is the industry's most efficient system. It is a hardware disk duplicator and imager for SATA and SAS HDDs, SSDs and USB mass storage media quickly and safely. The system's maximum imaging speed is 520 MB/s.

Disk duplicator hardware

Please note that this number represents the real measured speed that we achieved on real hard drives and not "theoretically achievable" speed that many other tools claim.

Table of contents

Imaging damaged drives

Physically damaged hard drives require a complex imaging approach. Specifically, the following techniques are used in Atola Insight Forensic in order to achieve the best results:

A few words on block size control. While using small block sizes helps in retrieving as much data as possible, it also significantly slows down the imaging process. Atola Insight's multi-pass imaging engine allows using large blocks with short timeouts on the first few passes. On the last passes, when only few sectors are left to be imaged, Insight uses the smallest block sizes.

Imaging damaged HDD with Atola Insight Forensic hardware disk duplicator

Imaging damaged HDD with Atola Insight Forensic hardware disk duplicator

This technique allows achieving real imaging speeds of up to 500 MB/sec on good areas of the drive, while approaching bad areas in the most gentle way possible, thus achieving an unbeatable overall speed of disk imaging.

Atola Insight Forensic handles block sizes automatically to provide the best possible results in the shortest amount of time.

Imaging to multiple targets

Atola Insight Forensic images source media to 1, 2 or 3 targets simultaneously. The following target types are supported:

Imaging to SATA and USB target drives simultaneously

Imaging to SATA and USB target drives simultaneously

Artifact search

Atola Insight Forensic searches for artifacts during imaging. This allows on-the-fly overview, sorting and search of the found values. Supported artifacts include:

In the Artifacts tab, at the bottom of Insight's interface, the numbers of artifacts and the corresponding diagram change on the go.

The Artifacts table displays each artifact with an assigned Id number. The values are shown in the context (20 bytes before and 20 bytes after the artifact in grey color) along with their LBAs and offsets to help locate each artifact.

More than 2.7M artifacts found on-the-fly

More than 2.7M artifacts found on-the-fly

HEX viewer

The real time data viewer shows the raw data extracted from the source drive during imaging. There are two modes available:

- Automatic with refresh interval slider

- Manual by means of Read sector button

Automated sector analysis checks each sector for file system structures (NTFS File Record, boot sectors, etc.)

Target device sectors

Target device sectors

File signatures

Atola Insight Forensic performs file signature analysis during imaging. It shows live stats of all found signatures while the data is being transferred with no negative effect on imaging performance. Moreover, you can easily check raw sector data for any found file using the HEX Viewer without even pausing the imaging process.

Live search of file signatures during imaging

Live search of file signatures during imaging

Customize every step of the process

Atola Insight can image the entire hard drive, select partitions or specific sector ranges. The newly created image can be stored either on a destination hard drive or the host computer. A data wipe function is available. It allows quickly and effortlessly writing any pattern to the destination hard drive. This can be necessary to prepare the target for a new image.

All parameters can be easily adjusted to fine-tune the process and meet the requirements of a specific case. Atola Insight can image damaged or unstable hard drives in the field that cannot be imaged by regular forensic disk duplicator hardware or software. So digital forensic experts can image more storage devices in the field without needing to take them back to lab.

Multiple imaging sessions

Multiple imaging sessions

Multiple hashing methods are available and hashes are calculated on the fly.

Major imaging parameters

Flexible imaging settings

Flexible imaging settings

Imaging status: Visual representation

Atola Insight's real-time imaging status screen shows all necessary information to the operator, providing full control over the process.

Visual feedback includes:

The operator can make on-the-fly changes to the parameters based on the information. For example, the operator can add a specific behavior on a certain condition (power cycle after X errors, etc), or modify timeout settings.

You can perform these actions during imaging:

Once the imaging is over, all status information is automatically sent to the Case Management and File Recovery modules.

An imaging report contains all necessary information including SMART table of the source drive before and after imaging process.

Detailed imaging report

Detailed imaging report

Creating an image file

Atola Insight can image the source disk into an image file. Just select a storage location on the host PC and specify the image file size: put all data in a single image file or "chop" the data into a series of smaller chunks.

Supported image file types:

Imaging only sectors with data

This option allows imaging only the sectors containing data from the source hard drive. The empty areas of the source hard drive will not be imaged. This can substantially reduce the time spent on data transfer and relieve strain on the source hard drive.

Supported file systems: NTFS, APFS (with encrypted volumes), Ext 2/3/4, HFS, HFS+, ExFAT, FAT16, FAT32

Imaging all sectors with data

Imaging all sectors with data

Metadata-Only copy option

This imaging mode allows copying the absolute minimum amount of data for file browsing to work. This allows for imaging of specific files.

Fully integrated with File Recovery module

At the end of the imaging process, the Atola Insight Forensic creates a Bad Sector Map and stores it in the Case History. The File Recovery module automatically refers to the Bad Sector Map, and marks all files hit by bad sectors.

It is a big time-saver: a list of recovered files has already been recorded during imaging, and the data is ready for browsing. This system is much more efficient than using one product for imaging and another for file recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click questions to expand text

1. How does the Atola Insight Forensic compare to other imagers?

2. How often does the Insight actually image at the “max” speeds that are listed on this website?

3. Does Atola Insight Forensic utilize BIOS and/or Operating System functions in the DiskSense Ethernet unit to image data?

4. Why would I need to wipe/erase a hard drive before imaging data onto it?