Stephen Reese

I needed to analyze a drive for a company that suspects an ex-employee may have taken corporate material (training exercise or else I would use a hardware write blocker and follow a chain of custody). I do not have a write blocker and rather then fire up a copy of Helix or a similar tool a my spare machine (which is painfully slow) I would rather perform analysis on my workstation. Most of this information was derived from this post.

First step is to disable auto mounting of devices in Microsoft Vista by running ‘cmd’ in an administrative user context and then execute ‘mountvol /N’ to enable readonly mounting of newly attached drives and volumes.


Here is how to list the drives and volumes:

DISKPART> list disk
Disk ###  Status      Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
--------  ----------  -------  -------  ---  ---
Disk 0    Online       233 GB      0 B
Disk 1    Online       932 GB      0 B        *
Disk 2    Online       932 GB      0 B        *
Disk 3    No Media        0 B      0 B
Disk 4    Online      3911 MB      0 B

DISKPART> list vol
Volume ###  Ltr  Label        Fs     Type        Size     Status     Info
----------  ---  -----------  -----  ----------  -------  ---------  --------
Volume 0     E                       DVD-ROM         0 B  No Media
Volume 1     H   BLACK_DAHLI  UDF    DVD-ROM     3214 MB  Healthy
Volume 2     F   U3 System    CDFS   CD-ROM         8 MB  Healthy
Volume 3     C                NTFS   Partition    233 GB  Healthy    System
Volume 4     D   data         NTFS   Partition    931 GB  Healthy
Volume 5                             Partition    931 GB  Healthy
Volume 6     G                       Removable       0 B  No Media
Volume 7     I                FAT32  Removable   3911 MB  Healthy


So I decided to try a spare drive in the system and I found that when attempting to mount a TrueCrypt volume I got an error telling me that auto-mount is not support and I would have to re-enable it.


Continuing on my quest I was able to mount a spare hard drive volume read only, note you may also set the whole disk to read only.

DISKPART> select volume 5

Volume 5 is the selected volume.

DISKPART> att vol set readonly

Volume attributes set successfully.

DISKPART> detail vol

Disk ###  Status      Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
--------  ----------  -------  -------  ---  ---
* Disk 2    Online       932 GB      0 B        *

Read-only              : Yes
Hidden                 : No
No Default Drive Letter: Yes
Shadow Copy            : No
Dismounted             : Yes
BitLocker Encrypted    : No

The next step will clear the read only status.

DISKPART> att vol clear readonly
Volume attributes cleared successfully.

Do not forget you may want to enable auto mounting again.

C:\Windows\system32>mountvol /N

A second and much easier alternative for USB devices is a small application that changes a registry entry called ThumbScrew. It alters a registry entry and though there is no guarantee that windows still will not access the drive it is a quick fix for this scenario. My plan is to use both methods. First disable the registry setting and then using drive part set the read only flag.

If you have any ideas about mounting drives in a Windows environment then please feel free to contact me and tell me about it.


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