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Windows is a widely-spread operating system from Microsoft.


  • Basic and Dynamic Disks, see: [1]

Introduced in Windows NT

Introduced in Windows 2000

Introduced in Windows XP


  • Windows Firewall

Introduced in Windows 2003 (Server)

  • Volume Shadow Copies

Introduced in Windows Vista

Introduced in Windows 2008 (Server)

Introduced in Windows 7

Introduced in Windows 8


Partition layout

Default partition layout, first partition starts:

  • at sector 63 in Windows 2000, XP, 2003
  • at sector 2048 in Windows Vista, 2008, 7


Recycle Bin


Used by Windows 2000, XP. Uses INFO2 file.

See: [2]


Used by Windows Vista. Uses $I and $R files.

See: [3]


The Windows Registry is a database of keys and values that provides a wealth of information to forensic investigators.

Thumbs.db Files

Thumbs.db files can be found on many Windows systems. They contain thumbnails of images or documents and can be of great value for the investigator.

See also: Vista thumbcache.

Browser Cache

Browser History

The Web Browser History files can contain significant information. The default web browser that comes with Windows is Microsoft Internet Explorer but other common browsers on Windows are Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.


See Windows Desktop Search

Setup log files (setupapi.log)

Windows Vista introduced several setup log files [4].


After (at least) Windows 7 recovers from sleep/hibernation there often is a system time change event (event id 1) in the event logs.


Windows stores a users Security identifiers (SIDs) under the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

The %SID%\ProfileImagePath value should also contain the username.

Advanced Format (4KB Sector) Hard Drives

Windows XP does not natively handle drives that use the new standard of 4KB sectors. For information on this, see Advanced Format.


The actual value of %SystemRoot% is store in the following registry value:

Key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\
Value: SystemRoot

See Also

External Links

Under the hood

Side-by-side (WinSxS)

Application Compatibility Database

Windows Firewall

Windows XP

Windows 8