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I am looking for some serious disk imaging software which I will use for LEGAL purposes – i.e. I will not use it for illegal purposes (cloning movies and so on), I rather need it for CD/DVDs but I'll need it for hard disks as well.

I am not an expert but I want to be able to create disk images, mount virtual drives and so on (as a general rule, I can say that more functionality is better than less).. Being a beginner, an entirely cmd line based software is not an option. Quite important is that I do not want ads popping up from nowhere all the times.

Having looked around for a while I really feel like most of these softwares are a bit dodgy - I mean, I'm not speaking from a technical view point, but they are always coming from companies located in very weird countries and they always try to install a bunch of questionable applications / add-ons which I don't want.

As a consequence, I don't trust them and I'm not comfortable in installing any of them on my PC.

Do you have any recommendation for some serious and reliable software (OS is Windows 7). Of course, I m not necessarily looking for something free. I am well ready to pay.

  • Can you give examples of the weird ones so that we don't suggest them? I've used PowerISO for creation and VirtualCloneDrive for mounting and both are lightweight and ad-free – Jedi Jul 16 '16 at 13:08
  • Giulio, please tell us what you mean by "I will use for LEGAL purposes". Do you mean you will use the software for judicial/lawyering/records management/etc? Or do you just mean that you are not a pirate, and will not use the software to copy copyrighted movies? – Nicolas Raoul Jul 12 '17 at 9:28
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Warning

Sorry, this may sound a bit harsh, but the statements

I will use for LEGAL purposes

and

Being a beginner

are an extremely dangerous combination. If you really need it for legal purposes, call an expert.

The reasons are

  • for legal purposes, you need to follow processes which you probably don't know
  • if you haven't followed those processes, your evidence item will not be accepted
  • you'll need much more then just a disk imaging software, e.g. an accepted hardware write protector

Suggestion: read a book like Computer Forensik (German, sorry), written by someone who actually performs the job and which also focuses on the legal aspects of acquiring disk images. Do not read a book like Computer Forensic Hacks (German, sorry), which is nice to read, but is just a collection of random computer tricks.

In a good book, you'll find

  • that you should come with an attestor
  • that you should document time, date and actions taken
  • that you should give reasoning why you do something
  • that you should take photographies of how you dismount the PC
  • how to label the evidence items
  • that you should take photographies of how you mount the hardware write protection
  • that you take a copy of the evidence item first (read original data only once)
  • that you then work on another copy in order to keep the first copy intact

Recommendations

With this in mind, there are lots of disk imaging tools available, but most of them will not qualify for legal purposes. Such tools are typically very expensive and you won't even find a price on their website, because it's "contact sales" price, which means horrible expensive.

I know the following tools which are accepted for forensic analysis in the US:

Access Data Forensic Toolkit or, if you just need imaging, Access Data FTK Imager. Access Data also provides a 5 year old Lite version for free. That one may not be able to read new file systems.

The other is Guidance Software EnCase. Also, the Forensic Imager can be obtained separately. There's a free trial available, but I think you have to register at least.

Those tools meet all your requirements:

  • create disk images: yes, but perhaps in their own and not very common formats
  • mount virtual drives: yes, usually read-only, because you shall not modify in legal cases
  • an entirely cmd line based software is not an option: both are graphical tools
  • I do not want ads popping up: certainly, a several thousands USD software will not show ads
  • companies located in very weird countries: Access Data and Guidance Software are both located in the US. Some call that a weird country.
  • install a bunch of questionable applications: certainly not
  • serious and reliable software: you won't find a lot more reliable software than digital forensics used in court
  • OS is Windows 7: supported
  • I am well ready to pay: we'll see ;-)

As a beginner, you might want to become familiar with the topic first, before you buy one of the tools above. To do so, check the SIFT Workstation, which is a virtual appliance for free. It is provided by the SANS Institute (SysAdmin, Networking and Security), DFIR department (Digital Forensic & Incident Reponse). They also offer trainings and even certification.

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    I think you misunderstand the question (and that makes the entire first section of your anwer unnecessary): the OP does not want imaging software for forensics, he just emphasizes that he does not want to do illegal things like copying CDs from his friends. That was edited in later from his comments. – user416 Jul 11 '17 at 8:53
  • @JanDoggen: the emphasis of the word "legal" led me to it. The question was ambiguous in the beginning. With the clarification, possibly the whole answer is obsolete, since one would not recommend those software for normal users. – Thomas Weller Jul 11 '17 at 10:42
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I've been using a product from Future Systems Solutions called Casper for several years now. It has the following requirements:

All 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows® 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista®, Windows XP, and Windows 2000 Professional1,2,3

500MB available hard disk space

512MB RAM (1GB or more recommended)

Backup device (additional internal or external hard disk drive)

And, its benefits include...

Maintain a Bootable Backup Replacement for Instant Recovery

Create Complete Disk Image Backups for Selectable Point-In-Time Recovery

Convenient and Easy-to-use

Fast Backups, Stress-free, Rapid Recovery

Reliability Assured

It's relatively inexpensive ($49 US) and provides a free trial. It uses a GUI to allow you to make copies of any drive.

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