Authors: Aaron Burghardt (Booz Allen Hamilton), Adam J. Feldman (Booz Allen Hamilton)



This paper describes research and analysis that were performed to identify a robust and accurate method for identifying and extracting the residual contents of deleted files stored within an HFS+ file system. A survey performed during 2005 of existing tools and techniques for HFS+ deleted file recovery reinforced the need for newer, more accurate techniques. Our research and analysis were based on the premise that a transactional history of file I/O operations is maintained in a Journal on HFS+ file systems, and that this history could be used to reconstruct recent deletions of active files from the file system. Such an approach offered a distinct advantage over other current techniques, including recovery of free/ unallocated blocks and “file carving” techniques. If the journal entries contained or referenced file attributes such as the extents that specify which file system blocks were occupied by each file, then a much more accurate identification and recovery of deleted file data would be possible.