VMware Snapshot Forensic Comparison Scripts
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Background and Original Source

These scripts are derived from the contents of the May 2011 paper "Forensic Analysis of VMware Hard Disks" by Manish Hirwani. The paper was retrieved in March, 2013 from https://ritdml.rit.edu/bitstream/handle/1850/13818/MHirwaniThesis5-4-2011.pdf, and a copy is included in this repository.

The files in the "bash.original" directory reflect the closest functional version of the scripts in the PDF. Future feature additions will be made to files in "bash.new" directory, and possibly others.

These scripts are not only used for VMware image comparisons, but could help in analysis of any "changed" system images.

Initial Modifications

The originals were modified to function within the SANS SIFT Ubuntu VMware distribution. (See http://computer-forensics.sans.org/community/downloads for details and download.) Modifications between the paper and initial commit included:

  • Handling special characters in filenames
  • Use sleep(1) instead of usleep for better portability
  • Move common function and variable definitions to a separate file, sourced as needed
  • Syntax corrections
  • Use mmls(1) from TSK instead of fdisk(8)
  • Paths to binaries to sync with SIFT paths
  • Other minor changes to enable functionality within SIFT environment


  1. Mount VMDKs as raw images using affuse from the afflib distribution:

$ affuse /path/to/myfirst.vmdk /mnt/vmdks/myfirst.base/

$ affuse /path/to/myfirst-000001.vmdk /mnt/vmdks/myfirst.snap1/

  1. Run "menu.sh"

$ cd bash

$ ./menu.sh

  1. Using menu option 1, select the raw images mounted above:

PATH 1: /mnt/vmdks/myfirst.base/myfirst.vmdk.raw

PATH 2: /mnt/vmdks/myfirst.snamp1/myfirst-000001.vmdk.raw

  1. Use menu options 3-7 to create analysis files in the "output_files" directory. This directory will be created for you, and the scripts will exit if their respective output file already exists to prevent accidental overwrites.
  • Note that each menu option currently re-asks for the partition offset. This value should be taken directly from the "Start" value in the displayed partition table.
  1. Optionally use menu options 8-9 to view output and/or calculate hash values for the raw-mounted VMDK files.

  2. Rename/move the "output_files" directory to some source-specific name/location, review contents for each analysis run.