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Virtual Machine Forensics – Explained with Help of Virtual Machine Email Recovery

Published By Raj Kumar
Aswin Vijayan
Approved By Aswin Vijayan
Published On April 21st, 2022
Reading Time 6 Minutes Reading
Category Freebies

Virtualization is a wide domain that makes use of the logical environment in order to triumph over physical limitations associated with hardware. An organisation uses a virtual machine environment widely in order to minimize the cost of hardware and software. However, with the growing use of virtual machines, there can be various scenarios that demand virtual machine forensics.

Understanding The Needs To Carry Out Virtual Machine Forensics

The functioning of both the virtual machines as well as the original system is exactly the same. Hence, in case of any misconduct with the local machine having a virtual environment, it becomes equally important to investigate the user’s activity recorded on the virtual machine to reach the root cause of an issue. However, virtual machine digital forensics is not an easy task as it requires sound technical knowledge. Moreover, the investigation process becomes more complicated if there are some damaged or broken virtual machine images making the process more complicated.

Behind The Scenes

By creating a virtual machine, a set of files is created by the workstation for the particular virtual machine. It stores these files either in the virtual machine directory or in the working directory. The user needs to note that both these directories reside on the host system.

Glimpse Of Virtual Machine Files

The two important file formats of virtual machines which are important for experts to extract information related to the virtual machines are VMDK and VHD files. These files are created by Hyper V and VM Ware applications. During Virtual Machine forensics, the prime and most challenging task of investigators is to carve evidence from these crucial file formats. A brief description of both the files is provided below:

VHD Files: These files permit the installation of multiple Operating Systems on a single host machine. It contains a disk partition and a file system on the hard drive.

VMDK Files: It is a disk image file that stands for Virtual Machine Disk. It is an open format file and is considered a container for a hard disk drive that is used in a virtual machine.

Importance Of VHD And VMDK Files In Digital Forensics

VMDK and VDK files are the key elements for examining virtual machines. Experts can extract necessary information from these files to resolve an issue. ‘Emails’ stored in these files (both sent and received) pave the path for the examiners to reach the offenders.

Whenever a user initiates to compose an email, the Operating System grabs the data and stores it on the hard drive. It stores all necessary information in VMDK or VHD files in the case of the Virtual machine. The VMDK and VHD files further contain files and folders and store data accordingly. For example, if Outlook is used in a standalone environment in the Virtual machine, PST files are created within the virtual machine files to store the database. However, if Outlook is configured with Exchange Server, EDB files are created within these files.

The scenario may arise where alteration is done to Exchange EDB emails created by a virtual machine. In such a case, the experts need to analyze EDB emails from VHD and VMDK files. However, direct extraction of information from these files requires huge time; hence, the experts prefer to use a basic utility ‘virtual machine email recovery’ tool. The next thing that strikes in mind is why the forensics experts will invest in this tool?

Why Virtual Machine Email Recovery Tool

The virtual machine email recovery tool is an expert utility that is designed keeping in mind the challenges faced by the experts while implementing virtual machine forensics. Some of the challenges from which the tool protects the experts are:

  • Can face challenges in dealing with Exchange Server
  • The EDB files are prone to corruption and can become inaccessible
  • There can be chances of data loss from Exchange Server or from VMDK/VHD files

Benefits Provided By Virtual Machine Email Recovery Tool To Computer Forensics Experts

Forensics investigators proceed with their own tips and tricks to reach the offenders. If the information is to be extracted from a virtual machine, the experts target VHD/VMDK files. An investigator widely uses the virtual machine email recovery tool to exercise control over Exchange Server emails. The tool is professionally created and some of its features are listed below:

  • Recovers email files of any size
  • Recover corrupt/deleted emails

Virtual Machine Computer Forensics

Recovers Email Files Of Any Size

There can be chances that the email files can be lengthy hence, it becomes difficult to handle them. However, using the virtual machine email recovery tool, forensics experts can easily process email files of any size.  The software does not apply any restrictions on the size of the email files, thus, it becomes easier to recover EDB files from the virtual hard drive. And it can store the resultant emails in PST, EML, MSG and live exchange for the convenience of the examiners. Moreover, the software has the potential to process multiple emails at a time.

Recovers Corrupt/Deleted Emails

In order to alter Exchange EDB emails, the offenders either corrupt or delete them. In both scenarios, the EDB files become inaccessible and the experts cannot extract information from them. Using a virtual machine email recovery tool, the experts can conveniently scan VHD and VMDK files and recover both corrupt as well as deleted emails. The tool allows experts to preview emails on its panel after recovery. The tool recovers emails keeping the message contents and Metadata intact.

A Glance Of Recovered Email

Virtual machine email recovery tool plays a crucial role in the investigation process. The figure below shows the software panel where the experts can preview Exchange EDB emails.

virtual machine forensics


Some advanced features of the Virtual Machine Computer tool are discussed below:

  • Experts can analyze emails along with the attachments
  • Provides essential details of the mails like to, from, Cc, date, time etc
  • Provides the option to manage resultant PST files by dividing them into smaller parts and EML and MSG files by providing desired naming convention

To End With

The content provides necessary information about the implementation of Virtual Machine forensics using the virtual machine email recovery tool. The tool is the prime choice of the experts and they utilize it for the investigation. Further users can use the PST forensics applications to examine the resultant PST files created by the tool.