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volatility(1) advanced memory forensics framework volatility(1)


volatility - advanced memory forensics framework


volatility [option]
volatility -f [image] --profile=[profile] [plugin]


The Volatility Framework is a completely open collection of tools for the extraction of digital artifacts from volatile memory (RAM) samples. It is useful in forensics analysis. The extraction techniques are performed completely independent of the system being investigated but offer unprecedented visibility into the runtime state of the system.

Currently, Volatility (version 2.6) supports several versions of the MS Windows, Linux and MAC OSX:

  • 32-bit Windows XP Service Pack 2 and 3
  • 32-bit Windows Vista Service Pack 0, 1, 2
  • 32-bit Windows 7 Service Pack 0, 1
  • 32-bit Windows 8, 8.1, and 8.1 Update 1
  • 32-bit Windows 10
  • 32-bit Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 0, 1, 2
  • 32-bit Windows 2008 Server Service Pack 1, 2 (there is no SP0)
  • 64-bit Windows XP Service Pack 1 and 2 (there is no SP0)
  • 64-bit Windows 2003 Server Service Pack 0, 1, 2
  • 64-bit Windows Vista Service Pack 0, 1, 2
  • 64-bit Windows 2008 Server Service Pack 1 and 2 (there is no SP0)
  • 64-bit Windows 2008 R2 Server Service Pack 0 and 1
  • 64-bit Windows 7 Service Pack 0 and 1
  • 64-bit Windows 8, 8.1, and 8.1 Update 1
  • 64-bit Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2
  • 64-bit Windows 10
  • 64-bit Windows Server 2016
  • 32-bit Linux kernels 2.6.11 to 4.2.3
  • 64-bit Linux kernels 2.6.11 to 4.2.3
  • 32-bit 10.5.x Leopard (the only 64-bit 10.5 is Server, which isn't supported)
  • 32-bit 10.6.x Snow Leopard
  • 64-bit 10.6.x Snow Leopard
  • 32-bit 10.7.x Lion
  • 64-bit 10.7.x Lion
  • 64-bit 10.8.x Mountain Lion (there is no 32-bit version)
  • 64-bit 10.9.x Mavericks (there is no 32-bit version)
  • 64-bit 10.10.x Yosemite (there is no 32-bit version)
  • 64-bit 10.11.x El Capitan (there is no 32-bit version)
  • 64-bit 10.12.x Sierra (there is no 32-bit version)

The memory formats supported are:

  • Raw linear sample (dd)
  • Hibernation file (from Windows 7 and earlier)
  • Crash dump file
  • VirtualBox ELF64 core dump
  • VMware saved state and snapshot files
  • EWF format (E01)
  • LiME format
  • Mach-O file format
  • QEMU virtual machine dumps
  • Firewire
  • HPAK (FDPro)

The supported address spaces (RAM types) are:

  • AMD64PagedMemory - Standard AMD 64-bit address space.
  • ArmAddressSpace - Address space for ARM processors.
  • FileAddressSpace - This is a direct file AS.
  • HPAKAddressSpace - This AS supports the HPAK format.
  • IA32PagedMemory - Standard IA-32 paging address space.
  • IA32PagedMemoryPae - This class implements the IA-32 PAE paging address space. It is responsible.
  • LimeAddressSpace - Address space for Lime.
  • LinuxAMD64PagedMemory - Linux-specific AMD 64-bit address space.
  • MachOAddressSpace - Address space for mach-o files to support atc-ny memory reader.
  • OSXPmemELF - This AS supports VirtualBox ELF64 coredump format.
  • QemuCoreDumpElf - This AS supports Qemu ELF32 and ELF64 coredump format.
  • SkipDuplicatesAMD64PagedMemory - Windows 8/10-specific AMD 64-bit address space.
  • VMWareAddressSpace - This AS supports VMware snapshot (VMSS) and saved state (VMSS) files.
  • VMWareMetaAddressSpace - This AS supports the VMEM format with VMSN/VMSS metadata.
  • VirtualBoxCoreDumpElf64 - This AS supports VirtualBox ELF64 coredump format.
  • WindowsAMD64PagedMemory - Windows-specific AMD 64-bit address space.
  • WindowsCrashDumpSpace32 - This AS supports windows Crash Dump format.
  • WindowsCrashDumpSpace64 - This AS supports windows Crash Dump format.
  • WindowsCrashDumpSpace64BitMap - This AS supports Windows BitMap Crash Dump format.
  • WindowsHiberFileSpace32 - This is a hibernate address space for windows hibernation files.

There are RAM images for tests at


-h, --help
List all available options and their default values. Default values may be set in the configuration file (/etc/volatilityrc).
User based configuration file.
-d, --debug
Debug Volatility.
Additional plugin directories to use (colon separated).
Print information about all registered objects.
Directory where cache files are stored.
Use caching.
Sets the (Olson) timezone for displaying timestamps using pytz (if installed) or tzset.
-f FILENAME, --filename=FILENAME
Filename to use when opening an image.
Name of the profile to load. (Use --info to see a list of supported profiles)
-l LOCATION, --location=LOCATION
An URN location from which to load an address space.
-w, --write
Enable write support.
DTB Address.
Mac KASLR shift address.
Output in this format (format support is module specific).
Write output in this file.
-v, --verbose
Verbose information.
Linux kernel physical shift address.
Linux kernel virtual shift address.
-g KDBG, --kdbg=KDBG
Specify a specific KDBG virtual address. (Note: for 64-bit Windows 8 and above this is the address of KdCopyDataBlock)
-k KPCR, --kpcr=KPCR
Specify a specific KPCR address.
Force utilization of suspect profile.
Specify the address of nt!ObHeaderCookie (valid for Windows 10 only).


The supported plugin commands and profiles can be viewed if using the command '$ volatility --info'. Note that Linux and MAC OSX allowed plugins will have the 'linux_' and 'mac_' prefixes. Plugins without these prefixes were designed for MS Windows.

Profiles are maps used by Volatility to understand the operational systems. The allowed MS Windows profiles are provided by the Volatility.

You must create your own profiles for Linux and MAC OSX. For this, on Debian systems, read the README.Debian file provided by volatility-tools package.

On MS Windows, to determine the OS type, you can use:

    $ volatility -f <image> imageinfo
    $ volatility -f <image> kdbgscan


On a GNU/Linux or OS X system, these variables can be set:
  • VOLATILITY_PROFILE - Specifies a profile to be used as default, making unnecessary a '--profile' option.
  • VOLATILITY_LOCATION - Specifies the path of an image. So, the Volatility command will not need a file name via '-f' option.
  • VOLATILITY_KDBG - Specifies a KDBG address. See EXTRA PROCEDURES to more details.

Other plugin flags may be utilized in this way, for example KPCR, DTB or PLUGINS. When exporting variables, simply prefix VOLATILITY_ before the flag name (e.g. VOLATILITY_KPCR). Otherwise, the flag name remains the same when adding it to the configuration file.

If you have a path with a space or more in the name, spaces should be replaced with %20 instead (e.g. LOCATION=file:///tmp/my%20image.img).


    $ export VOLATILITY_PROFILE=Win7SP0x86
    $ export VOLATILITY_LOCATION=file:///tmp/myimage.img
    $ export VOLATILITY_KDBG=0x82944c28


Configuration files are typically 'volatilityrc' in the current directory or '~/.volatilityrc' in user's home directory, or at user specified path, using the --conf-file option. An example of the file contents is shown below:

Other plugin flags may be utilized in this way, for example KPCR, DTB or PLUGINS. When exporting variables, simply prefix VOLATILITY_ before the flag name (e.g. VOLATILITY_KPCR). Otherwise, the flag name remains the same when adding it to the configuration file.

If you have a path with a space or more in the name, spaces should be replaced with %20 instead (e.g. LOCATION=file:///tmp/my%20image.img).


Setting a timezone

   Timestamps extracted from memory can either be in system-local time, or in Universal Time
   Coordinates (UTC). If they're in UTC, Volatility can be instructed to display them in a time zone
   of the analyst's choosing. To choose a timezone, use one of the standard timezone names
   (such as America/Sao_Paulo, Europe/London, US/Eastern or most Olson timezones) with the --tz=TIMEZONE flag.
   Volatility attempts to use pytz if installed, otherwise it uses tzset.
   Please note that specifying a timezone will not affect how system-local times are displayed. If you identify
   a time that you know is UTC-based, please file it as an issue in the issue tracker. By default the _EPROCESS
   CreateTime and ExitTime timestamps are in UTC.
Setting the DTB

   The DTB (Directory Table Base) is what Volatility uses to translate virtual addresses to physical addresses.
   By default, a kernel DTB is used (from the Idle/System process). If you want to use a different process's DTB
   when accessing data, supply the address to --dtb=ADDRESS.
Setting the KDBG address (this is a Windows-only option)

   Volatility scans for the '_KDDEBUGGER_DATA64' structure using hard-coded signatures "KDBG" and a series of sanity
   checks. These signatures are not critical for the operating system to function properly, thus malware can overwrite
   them in attempt to throw off tools that do rely on the signature. Additionally, in some cases there may be more
   than one '_KDDEBUGGER_DATA64' (for example if you apply a major OS update and don't reboot), which can cause confusion
   and lead to incorrect process and module listings, among other problems. If you know the address
   add '_KDDEBUGGER_DATA64', you can specify it with --kdbg=ADDRESS and this override the automated scans. For more
   information, see the kdbgscan plugin.
Setting the KPCR address (this is a Windows-only option)

   There is one KPCR (Kernel Processor Control Region) for each CPU on a system. Some Volatility plugins display
   per-processor information. Thus if you want to display data for a specific CPU, for example CPU 3 instead of
   CPU 1, you can pass the address of that CPU's KPCR with --kpcr=ADDRESS. To locate the KPCRs for all CPUs, see
   the kpcrscan plugin. Also note that starting in Volatility 2.2, many of the plugins such as idt and gdt
   automatically iterate through the list of KPCRs.
Enabling write support

   Write support in Volatility should be used with caution. Therefore, to actually enable it, you must not only type
   --write on command-line but you must type a 'password' in response to a question that you'll be prompted with.
   In most cases you will not want to use write support since it can lead to corruption or modification of data in
   your memory dump. However, special cases exist that make this feature really interesting. For example, you could
   cleanse a live system of certain malware by writing to RAM over firewire, or you could break into a locked workstation
   by patching bytes in the winlogon DLLs.
Specifying additional plugin directories

   Volatility's plugin architecture can load plugin files from multiple directories at once. In the Volatility source
   code, most plugins are located in volatility/plugins. However, there is another directory (volatility/contrib)
   which is reserved for contributions from third party developers, or weakly supported plugins that simply aren't
   enabled by default. To access these plugins you just type --plugins=contrib/plugins on command-line. It also enables
   you to create a separate directory of your own plugins that you can manage without having to add/remove/modify files
   in the core Volatility directories.

   On Debian systems, the contrib/plugins directory is at /usr/share/volatility/contrib/plugins.
   Subdirectories will also be traversed as long as there is an file (which can be empty) within them.
   The parameter to --plugins can also be a zip file containing the plugins such as
   Due to the way plugins are loaded, the external plugins directory or zip file must be specified before any
   plugin-specific arguments (including the name of the plugin). Example:

$ volatility --plugins=contrib/plugins -f XPSP3x86.vmem example
Choosing an output format

   By default, plugins use text renderers to standard output. If you want to redirect to a file, you can of course
   use the console's redirection (i.e. > out.txt) or you could use --output-file=out.txt. The reason you can also
   choose --output=FORMAT is for allowing plugins to also render output as HTML, JSON, SQL, or whatever you choose.
   However, there are no plugins with those alternate output formats pre-configured for use, so you'll need to add
   a function named render_html, render_json, render_sql, respectively to each plugin before using --output=HTML.
Plugin specific options

   Many plugins accept arguments of their own, which are independent of the global options. To see the list of
   available options, type both the plugin name and -h/--help on command-line.

$ volatility dlllist -h
Debug mode

   If something isn't happening in Volatility the expected way, try to run the command with -d/--debug.
   This will enable the printing of debug messages to standard error. To more debug levels, as in using
   pdb debugger), add -d -d -d to command.
Using Volatility as a library

   Although its possible to use Volatility as a library, (there are plans to support it better in the future).
   Currently, to import Volatility from a python script, the following example code can be used:

$ python >>> import volatility.conf as conf >>> import volatility.registry as registry >>> registry.PluginImporter() <volatility.registry.PluginImporter object at 0x7f9608f3ac10> >>> config = conf.ConfObject() >>> import volatility.commands as commands >>> import volatility.addrspace as addrspace >>> registry.register_global_options(config, commands.Command) >>> registry.register_global_options(config, addrspace.BaseAddressSpace) >>> config.parse_options() >>> config.PROFILE="WinXPSP2x86" >>> config.LOCATION = "file:///media/memory/private/image.dmp" >>> import volatility.plugins.taskmods as taskmods >>> p = taskmods.PSList(config) >>> for process in p.calculate(): ... print process


To see all available plugins, profiles, scanner checks and address spaces:

    $ volatility --info
To list all active processes found in a MS Windows 8 SP0 image:

    $ volatility -f win8.raw --profile=Win8SP0x86 pslist
To list all active processes found in a MS Windows 8 SP0 image, using a timezone:

    $ volatility -f win8.raw --profile=Win8SP0x86 pslist --tz=America/Sao_Paulo
To show the kernel buffer from a Linux 3.2.63 image:

    $ volatility -f mem.dd --profile=Linux_3_2_63_x64 linux_dmesg


This manpage was based in some tests and several official documents about Volatility. For other information and tutorials, see:


Volatility was written by Volatility Foundation and several contributors. For contact, use the email <>.

This manual page was written by Joao Eriberto Mota Filho <> for the Debian project (but may be used by others).

21 Nov 2018 volatility-2.6.1