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Python script to parse the NTFS USN Journal
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Adam Witt
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Python script to parse the NTFS USN Change Journal


The NTFS USN Change journal is a volume-specific log which records metadata changes to files. It is a treasure trove of information during a forensic investigation. The change journal is a named alternate data stream, located at: $Extend\$UsnJrnl:$J. is a script written in Python which parses the journal's contents, and features several different output formats.

Default Output

With no command-line options set, will produce USN journal records in the format below:

dev@computer:$ python -f usnjournal -o /tmp/usn.txt
dev@computer:$ cat /tmp/usn.txt

2016-01-26 18:56:20.046268 | test.vbs | ARCHIVE  | DATA_OVERWRITE DATA_EXTEND

Command-Line Options

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -b, --body            Return USN records in comma-separated format
  -c, --csv             Return USN records in comma-separated format
  -f FILE, --file FILE  Parse the given USN journal file
  -q, --quick           Parse a large journal file quickly
  -s SYSTEM, --system SYSTEM
                        System name (use with -t)
  -t, --tln             TLN output (use with -s)
  -v, --verbose         Return all USN properties for each record (JSON)


Using the CSV flag will, as expected, provide results in CSV format. Using the --csv / -c option provides the same USN fields as default output:

  • Timestamp
  • Filename
  • File attributes
  • Reason

An example of what this looks like is below:

dev@computer:~$python --csv -f usnjournal -o /tmp/usn.txt
dev@computer:~$ cat /tmp/usn.txt



Using the --body / -b command-line flag, the script will output in mactime body format:

dev@computer:~$ python -f usnjournal --body

0|schedule log.xml (USN: DATA_EXTEND DATA_TRUNCATION CLOSE)|24603-1|0|0|0|0|1491238176|1491238176|1491238176|1491238176

--tln / -t

Using the --tln / -t command-line flag, the script will output in TLN body format:

dev@computer:~$ python -f usnjournal --tln

1491238176|USN|||schedule log.xml:DATA_EXTEND DATA_TRUNCATION CLOSE

Add the --system / -s flag to specify a system name with TLN output:

dev@computer:~$ python -f usnjournal --tln --system ThisIsASystemName

1491238176|USN|ThisIsASystemName||schedule log.xml:DATA_EXTEND DATA_TRUNCATION CLOSE


Return all USN members for each record with the --verbose / -v flag. The results are JSON-formatted.

dev@computer:~$python --verbose -f usnjournal -o /tmp/usn.txt
dev@computer:~$cat /tmp/usn.txt

    "majorVersion": 2,
    "minorVersion": 0,
    "fileReferenceNumber": 281474976744952,
    "parentFileReferenceNumber": 844424930165539,
    "usn": 47265504,
    "timestamp": 1467312724,
    "reason": "SECURITY_CHANGE",
    "sourceInfo": 0,
    "securityId": 0,
    "fileAttributes": "HIDDEN SYSTEM ARCHIVE",
    "filenameLength": 22,
    "filenameOffset": 60,
    "filename": "493fde4.rbf",
    "humanTimestamp": "2016-06-30 18:52:04.456762",
    "epochTimestamp": 1467312724,
    "mftSeqNumber": 1,
    "mftEntryNumber": 34296,
    "pMftSeqNumber": 3,
    "pMftEntryNumber": 33571



python install

Using pip:

pip install usnparser
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