Atola team attended the annual Forensic Europe Expo on May 3 – 4 in London. We were pleased to meet both our existing and potential customers, and answer their questions about Atola Insight Forensic. Those of you who were not able to attend this event may have similar questions, so here are the most frequently asked ones at the Expo and our answers to them. We would be happy to answer any further queries you may have, so please don’t hesitate to write a comment below or send us a message here.


Question: Does write protection work for SATA source drives only?

Answer: No, write protection works for all source ports: SATA, IDE, USB & extensions.


Question: You claim that Atola Insight Forensic is capable of imaging even bad drives. What does a bad drive mean?

Answer: By bad drives we imply various types of drive issues, namely:

  • Scratches on the media surface
  • Magnetic layer wear-out
  • Degraded or even non-working head
  • Drive freeze after reading attempt
  • Firmware issues
  • Bad sectors

Atola Insight Forensic is capable of dealing with devices, which competitor products cannot even identify.


Question: What are the advantages of Atola Insight Forensic compared to ddrescue open source data recovery tool?

Answer: Here are some of the functions that Atola Insight Forensic provides and that ddrescue lacks:

  1. For Insight we have developed functionality that specifically helps image freezing damaged drives.
  2. Insight’s diagnostics function identifies damaged heads, while advanced imaging settings allow head selection to perform imaging in a fast and, most importantly, cautious manner to avoid causing further damage to the evidence drive.
  3. Insight can image to multiple targets at the same time, both hard drives and files.
  4. Forensic procedures require hash calculation to be a part of the acquisition process. Insight has a very flexible hash calculation functionality: it can simultaneously calculate MD5 and SHA hashes of the source before, during or after imaging, and target drive’s hash can be calculated in conjunction with imaging or as a separate action.
  5. Built-in write protection.
  6. Insight’s in-depth diagnostics helps identify the drive status and, based on that, the right way to handle the drive for successful data acquisition.
  7. Insight’s overcurrent protection detects when the hard drive draws abnormal current and stops the hard drive to prevent any further damage to the system and the drive.
  8. Insight’s automatic password removal function can extract an unknown ATA password and unlock the drive in under 2 minutes with just a few mouse clicks.

These are just a few of the key features that Insight has to offer as opposed to ddrescue. For more information about the product please follow this link.


Question: When coming across bad sectors on the source drive in the course of imaging, how does Insight deal with the corresponding sectors on the target drive?

Answer: Such sectors can be either left alone (skipped), or filled with a pattern. The default pattern that is used to fill the sectors that are not readable is 00. However, it is possible to enter any other pattern or even load the pattern (of any length) from a file. To use this option:

  1. Navigate to Imaging category of the left-side menu
  2. Click the Create New Session link
  3. In the Preset line click the Show settings link
  4. Tick the check box next to Fill unreadable sectors with the following pattern (HEX):
  5. Leave the default pattern as it is or enter/upload a new one
  6. Click Save settings button if you would like to make this new pattern the default one or, should it not be the case, simply click Start imaging button.

Yulia Samoteykina
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Yulia Samoteykina

Director of Marketing Yulia believes that with a product that is exceptionally good at solving tasks of forensic experts, marketing is about explaining its capabilities to the users. Yulia regularly represents Atola at DFIR events, holds free workshops and webinars about Atola imagers functionality and advocates on the users' behalf to ensure that Atola keeps on adding value and raising the bar for the industry.

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