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General Information
Supported Drives
DiskSense Units


Lifetime Warranty


Disk Diagnostics
Disk Duplication
Selective Head Imaging
File Recovery
Password Removal
Firmware Recovery
Disk Utilities
Case Management


Version log

Atola Insight Product Manual

Thank you for purchasing Atola Insight from Atola Technology! We strive to make Atola Insight the best solution for data recovery industry. We are always happy to hear your comments and suggestions.

If you have a comment or suggestion on how can we improve our product, please contact us.

Why online?

There is only online version of this manual available at this time. We plan to update this manual frequently, and doing it online makes the process very efficient in comparison to traditional printed manual or pdf-file.


This manual is divided into several documents:

Package contents

Package contents depends on the type of the DiskSense unit you've purchased. Please make sure that you have the following items in the package:

DiskSense USBDiskSense Ethernet
  • DiskSense USB unit
  • 1x Power supply (15-21V DC output)
  • 1x 3.5-inch to 2.5-inch IDE adapter
  • 1x HDD IDE cable
  • 1x RS-232 (serial) cable
  • 1x HDD Serial ATA cable
  • 1x HDD power cable
  • 1x HDD Serial ATA power cable
  • 1x USB cable

  • DiskSense Ethernet unit
  • 1x 3.5-inch to 2.5-inch IDE adapter
  • 1x HDD IDE cable
  • 1x RS-232 (serial) cable
  • 2x HDD Serial ATA cable
  • 2x HDD power cable
  • 2x HDD Serial ATA power cable
If any of these items are missing, please contact your distributor.

Hardware and OS requirements

Minimum hardware specs:

  • Intel Celeron 2GHz/AMD Sempron CPU
  • 512 MB RAM
  • one USB 2.0 port (for DiskSense USB only)
  • one 100 MBit Ethernet port (for DiskSense Ethernet only)**
  • 1 GB of free disk space

Recommended hardware specs for optimal performance:
  • Intel motherboard based on P4x/G4x chipset (or newer)*
  • Intel or AMD dual core CPU
  • 2048 MB RAM
  • one USB 2.0 port (for DiskSense USB only)
  • one 1000 MBit (Gigabit, 1000BASE-T) Ethernet port (for DiskSense Ethernet only)**
  • 10 GB of free disk space
  • internet connection

Supported OS:
  • Windows 7 (32/64 bit)
  • Windows 8 (32/64 bit)

*When using a motherboard based on P4x/G4x chipset/ICH10 south bridge or newer, it is possible to achieve imaging speeds of up to 35 MB/second (2.1 GB/minute) on a USB unit.

**Gigabit Ethernet link will significanly improve most operations with the DiskSense Ethernet unit.

Installing and Updating the Software

Before you install Atola Insight, please make sure that the DiskSense unit is disconnected from the PC.

Please download and install the latest version of the software from the following link: Atola Insight Downloads. Update packages can be downloaded from the same page.

Atola Insight workflow

Atola Insight covers all four phases of the data recovery process:
1. Diagnosis
2. Recovery
3. Copy creation
4. File recovery


Whenever you receive a hard drive from a customer, the very first thing you have to do is to find out the exact problem. Never attempt to perform a fix unless you are hundred percent sure you are fixing the right issue.

Atola Insight has automatic diagnostics routine. This routine diagnoses all hard drive components - printed circuit board (PCB), spindle motor, head stack, firmware, and file systems. Diagnostics will work properly even if the drive has burnt parts or damaged head stack - the routine makes use of the current monitor that is embedded into DiskSense unit.

After diagnostics finishes, Atola Insight will prepare a report and let you know the exact issue with the drive; will also suggest the next step you have to take to be able to get the customer's data.

Please note: automatic diagnostics routine is currently under development. It is available in Atola Insight for immediate use, however, at this time we strongly suggest to verify its results with manual diagnosis.


Automatic password recovery and removal

Atola Insight can recover and/or remove unknown HDD passwords (also known as ATA-passwords). For most of the hard drives, the unlocking process is fully automated. Some hard drives (for example, latest 2.5-inch Hitachi hard drives) require minimal manual interference. Operator can choose whether to display the password or just remove it and unlock the drive. Both security levels (High or Maximum) are supported.

List of hard drives currently supported by automatic password recovery routine can be obtained at

Automatic firmware recovery

This feature allows automatic recovery of the firmware area. The routine first diagnoses the entire firmware area, finds corruption, and fixes it only if it is totally safe to do so.

List of hard drives currently supported by automatic firmware recovery routine can be obtained at

Manual firmware recovery

If there is firmware damage that cannot be fixed automatically, you will have to proceed with manual firmware recovery procedure. Generally speaking, firmware recovery process includes of the following steps:
1. Full firmware backup
2. Diagnostics
3. Recovery

Backup is a very important part of the process. Make sure you have full firmware backup before you make any change to the firmware area.

Basic diagnostics of the firmware area is done during Automatic Diagnostics process (see Automatic Diagnostics). More in-depth diagnostics is done during firmware backup process, after which any firmware damage that may exist will become obvious damaged modules will have "Read Failure" or "Bad Checksum" mark. Some of these damaged modules can be recovered by right-clicking on them and selecting Recovery (module will be re-generated and written to the drive). In some rare cases, when Atola Insight cannot simply regenerate the module, you would have to copy it from a donor drive (you would need to locate a similar hard drive, save that module from it to a file, and then copy that file onto the customer's drive).

Please note: if you find that many firmware modules are unreadable (more than 10% of total number), it might be a good indication that the head stack is malfunctioning. The best thing to do in this case is to reconfirm that the hard drive does not have head damage before proceeding with firmware recovery attempt. Attempting firmware recovery on a hard drive with internal damage may result in an unrecoverable damage.

Copy creation

Before you proceed with any file recovery attempt, it is very important that you have a sector-by-sector copy of it. Atola Insight can use a Target drive (with DiskSense Ethernet unit only), a target hard drive attached directly to the PC (not via DiskSense unit), or a file (image) as destination media. Atola Insight supports two modes of duplication: basic duplication and duplication using media maps. To get more information about media maps, please follow this link:

Basic duplication mode

This mode is used by most software and hardware duplication tools and is basically a linear sector-by-sector copy process. You can specify start LBA, end LBA, direction (linear or reverse) I/O timeout, action on timeout (soft reset, hard reset, power cycle), hash calculation, UDMA/PIO-mode, "Read Long" mode.

Media maps

This feature allows performing a much more sophisticated duplication process that allows handling very unusual scenarios. Basically, media map allows you to specify exact sector ranges that you would like to copy. Media maps can also be generated, thus allowing you to specify very complicated maps without spending much time. To build a media map you use filters that include or exclude specific sector ranges. Some examples where media maps are very useful:

  • Copying only sectors occupied by files and important structures (MBR, EBR, BOOT, MFT records and so on)

  • Copying only certain partitions
  • Copying hard drives with one or more damaged heads

Filters can be combined in any way. For more information about media maps and filters, please see this article:

Note: "Read Long" and multi-pass modes are not available yet but will be included in the upcoming updates of Atola Insight.

File recovery

After you made a copy of the customer's hard drive, you can start recovering files. The process is straight-forward and is not different from any other file recovery software currently available on the market.

Case management

This feature of Atola Insight helps tracking everything you do with a particular hard drive. It also allows organizing firmware files that are being downloaded from hard drives (for example: firmware modules, NVRAM, EEPROM, etc).

You do not need to enable Case Management or take any additional actions for it to start functioning; it is fully embedded into Atola Insight and working all the time.

Serial port

Some hard drives require connection via serial port in order to access firmware. Please see this page for information regarding serial port connection:

Additional reading

Troubleshooting and frequently asked questions:

Program changelog:

Supported hard drives: