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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

Frequently Asked Questions

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Common Questions

  • Can the Atola Insight software program be purchased without the DiskSense hardware unit?
    No, the Atola Insight software cannot be purchased without a DiskSense unit. Most features of the Atola Insight depend on the DiskSense unit functionality.
  • What are the PC requirements for each of the Atola DiskSense unit options?
    The DiskSense USB unit can be used on any computer that has a USB port, including laptops, allowing it to utilize the full potential of the Atola Insight using almost any PC. For this reason, a portable power supply is included with Atola DiskSense USB.

    The DiskSense Ethernet unit requires an Ethernet port. Any speed is compatible (10/100/1000 Mbit), however, when creating images over a network, a Gigabit link (1000 Mbit) is highly recommended.

    Atola Insight software requires a Windows operating system. More details are available in the Atola Insight Manual.

  • Does the Atola Insight only work when the hard drive is connected to the DiskSense?
    Hard drives can be recognized by Atola Insight software when connected to standard ATA/IDE ports instead of the DiskSense unit. Some functions will work in the same fashion except for the Automatic Diagnostic, which cannot be run without the hard drive being connected to the DiskSense unit. Some firmware-related functions will not work.

    Please note that the DiskSense unit must still be attached to the host computer in order for the Atola Insight software program to launch.

  • What are the hardware and operating system requirements for running the Atola Insight?
    Hardware and software requirements are available in the Atola Insight Manual.
  • How much variation is there in data transfer speed during imaging?
    Data transfer speed depends largely on the hard drive. The DiskSense USB is capable of reaching about 40 MB/sec. The DiskSense Ethernet can reach speeds up to 180 MB/sec, but the speed may be as slow as 50 MB/sec (3 GB per minute) when working with older or slower HDD models.
  • How does the Atola Insight compare to other products in the industry that advertise the same features?
    Our goal is to develop the most effective data recovery solution on the market. Though our product is clearly the most effective solution for some operations, there are many products on the market and we feel that it is unethical to make claims such as "our product is the best on the market". A feature-by-feature comparison to competing products in our industry is available through Ji2 Inc. (
  • How can I achieve the best duplication speed with DiskSense Ethernet unit?
    To have an acceptable throughput you would need to use a Gigabit Ethernet network card in your computer. If you plug DiskSense unit into a network switch, the switch has to be rated for Gigabit speeds (as well as all other intermediate switches between the unit and PC where Atola Insight software is installed). Gigabit Ethernet will give you the maximum speed of about 85 Mb/s.

    When Gigabit Ethernet is not available, the maximum speed would be only 8 MB/s which is very low.

    There are few steps to ensure high speed connection:

    1. Check that your Ethernet adapter supports Gigabit Ethernet. If it doesn't, then you would have to obtain a new Ethernet adapter that supports Gigabit Ethernet.
    2. If DiskSense is not directly attached to the PC but to a networking switch, then please make sure that it does support Gigabit Ethernet (as well as all other intermediate switches, if any). Ethernet adapter in the PC still must support Gigabit Ethernet.
    3. A misconfigured network switch or network adapter can cause a negative impact on the speed as well.
    4. Verify that all intermediate network cables between the unit and the PC are 5e category or higher (cat. 6). It is suggested the cables should not be too long; however, usually long cables (20 meters/60 feet and more) do not cause any issues.
    5. For maximum performance, DiskSense Ethernet unit should be connected directly to the Ethernet adapter on the PC without any intermediate network switches.
    There are other things that could affect transfer speeds like network adapter drivers, motherboard drivers, antivirus software and so on. However, complying with the rules above is enough for most cases.

    To verify the network speed you can do the following:

    1. Launch the Atola Insight software
    2. Connect a good and fast hard drive to the Source port of the DiskSense unit
    3. Navigate to Imaging, select Imaging to File option
    4. In the file selection dialog enter file name nul (with one L if you are using Atola Insight version 2.0 or earlier; if you are using version 2.1 or newer, the name should be null with two L). This special file name will force Insight to skip writing, thus target write speed will not affect the measurement. Data is still transferred through Ethernet.
    5. Begin imaging
    If everything is working properly, you should see speeds of 50 MB/s or higher.

Case Management

  • When a case is being continued, how can I tell which technician worked on the hard drive?
    In situations where different technicians are working on a single case, we recommend adding a note in the case history of who worked on each phase. In future versions of Atola Insight, the note will be added automatically.
  • Can the user add notes to the case history after a case is closed?
    Yes. This can be done quickly and easily by opening the case history and clicking "Add note".
  • Can 2 hard drives share 1 case number if they are related (example: 2 hard drives from an array)?
    Not at this time. Each case number can only be dedicated to a single hard drive. However, a note can be made in each case history explaining any connection to other cases. For example, “this hard drive is from the same array as case 8XB9906” or, “customer name: Jesse Foox.” This would allow the user to run a key word search to examine similarities between cases.


  • How does the automatic diagnostic work and how accurate is it?
    The automatic diagnostic function is quite complex. It applies a sophisticated system that analyzes electrical currents as they enter and leave the hard drive, examines the hard drive’s responsiveness to low level commands and incorporates firmware information (if it is accessible). Our studies had shown that this approach is accurate in pinpointing malfunctions for at least 95% cases.
  • I don’t have training on oscilloscope use. How will I know how to analyze electrical currents from the oscilloscope?
    Some data from the oscilloscope is very simple to understand (for example; when HDD power fails the lines go flat). Users can learn to understand more complex oscilloscope information by seeking advice from other data recovery technicians, seeking professional training, or simply through gaining experience in field.

    While current monitoring technology plays an important role in the Atola Insight’s operation, no specific skills are actually required since the current analysis is performed automatically by the tool.

  • Can RAID arrays be diagnosed as a single HDD?
    The Atola Insight will only diagnose the hard drive that is directly connected to the DiskSense unit. Hard drives from RAID Arrays must be diagnosed and recovered individually.

Disk Duplication

  • How does the Atola Insight compare to other imagers?
    We believe the Atola Insight is the strongest imaging/duplication system available on the market. It has every feature advertised by other products and much more. Atola products also have the smoothest, most user friendly interface of any imager on the market and we offer the strongest technical support to help users maximize their success with our product.
  • How often does the Insight actually image at the “max” speeds that are listed on this website?
    The “max” speeds listed on this website have been lab-tested for accuracy on modern hard drives. The actual speed of duplication (or any data transfer) depends on the speed of hard drives used in the process. During HDD-to-HDD duplication, the slower hard drive will determine the actual transfer speed because one hard drive can only receive data as fast as the other can send it, and visa versa.

  • Does Atola Insight utilize BIOS and/or Operating System functions in the DiskSense Ethernet unit to image data?
    DiskSense Ethernet unit runs a Linux OS. We have built a highly-customized and fine-tuned kernel for this Linux OS, and our modifications block all BIOS and standard Linux I/O operations and allow the lowest level of control for SATA and IDE ports. More information is available here: DiskSense Ethernet: under the hood
  • Can I purchase this imaging system without the rest of the Atola Insight modules like diagnostics and firmware repair?
    Yes, Atola Imager is basically the Imager-Only version of the Atola Insight. It come standard with the DiskSense Ethernet hardware unit and has all of the features listed on the Atola Insight’s Disk Duplication webpage. Click above links to visit product webpages.
  • Why would I need to wipe/erase a hard drive before imaging it?
    Some specific data recovery or forensic investigation scenarios require the destination hard drive to be wiped/erased. This is usually done to make sure the software being used to recover files won’t extract old data that was previously on the destination HDD.

Device Utilities

  • What is an ECC?
    ECC stands for Error Correction Code. Every HDD sector has a reserved space for the ECC, which would list special code used to recover data in that sector in case of slight damage. When the term “bad sector” is used, it usually refers to a sector which contents cannot be recovered with the ECC algorithms. See Bad Sector Recovery article for more information.
  • What are the HPA and DCO functions used for?
    HPA and DCO are used mostly to limit capacity of an HDD. They reduce a hard drive’s capacity by making a certain portion of the drive invisible. For example, if you took a 500GB hard drive and set a DCO max LBA or HPA at 300GB, the hard drive would appear to computers and other devices as 300GB capacity. This process is sometimes referred to as “clipping” a hard drive. A DCO clip or HPA can be set or removed in seconds.

Firmware Recovery

  • How many hard drive models does the Atola Insight support for firmware recovery?
    The Atola Insight provides firmware recovery capability in two ways: by automatically repairing firmware and providing direct access to firmware files for manual repair. Different sets of hard drive models are supported for each of these approaches due to differences in firmware design by the hard drive manufacturers. For a complete and up to date list of supported hard drive models for firmware recovery, see the supported drives page.
  • How commonly do modern hard dives experience firmware corruption?
    Less than 20% of data recovery cases with modern hard drives involve firmware corruption. Occasionally, a manufacturer will release a hard drive with flawed firmware and data recovery labs will see a spike in firmware recovery jobs for a period of time.
  • What is the difference between firmware files stored in on the HDD platter and ROM/EEPROM/NVRAM?
    This depends on the HDD manufacturer and hard drive model. Each hard drive has its own specifications for where firmware data is stored.
  • How does the Automatic Firmware Recovery function work?
    The Automatic Firmware Recovery function starts by identifying the HDD and then applies a special approach based on the model. It will then identify the damaged firmware files (modules) and rebuild (re-generate) them.

Password Removal

  • How do hard drives become locked with ATA passwords?
    ATA passwords can be set through the computer’s BIOS or using special products like the Atola Insight. Freeware tools are available as well.
  • Does this function remove BIOS passwords?
    No. BIOS passwords are a different form of security that does not have to do directly with hard drive programming or the ATA standard (although, depending on the specific computer, an ATA password might be set by the BIOS when defining a BIOS password).
  • What hard drives are supported?
    Automatic password removal works for most hard drives available on the market. For more specific information, please refer to the Supported Drives List.

File Recovery

  • How often is the list of supported file systems updated?
    Support for different file systems is added on a case by case basis. This is determined by market demand and practicality.
  • Does the speed of the DiskSense unit affect the speed of file recovery?
    The speed of the DiskSense unit affects the speed of scanning the entire hard drive as well as the speed of file restoration. Please note that the hard drive does not need to be scanned by the File Recovery module if it has already been duplicated/imaged using the Atola Insight because the Disk Duplication module automatically creates a bad sector map for the File Recovery module to reference.