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Submission FAQ
Digital Evidence

What kind of cases might feature digital evidence?

A: Given the ubiquity of phones and computers today, almost every crime can involve some type of electronic device. We routinely work on cases of all types, from violent crimes and drug offenses to fraud and child exploitation investigations.

Do you track cell phones or hack into email or cloud accounts?

A: No. Our services focus on recovery and analysis of data stored locally on electronic devices themselves. We do not obtain data stored remotely on cell phone carrier, email, or cloud storage sites.

Can you recover the data from a hard drive that doesn't
work anymore?

A: It depends. We have specialized tools and techniques available in our Digital Evidence labs that enable us to diagnose and repair various problems which cause hard drives to be inaccessible to a typical user. While there are limits to these capabilities (severe physical damage to internal components, for example), we have had success in recovering data from failing hard drives in multiple cases.

Do you intercept encrypted messages and decrypt them
instantly like they do in movies and TV shows?

A: No. We do not participate in surveillance or interdiction of communications. We focus solely on the recovery and analysis of data stored within electronic devices themselves.

Can you recover data from devices found in water?

A: Most likely, yes. If a device is found in water, it should be kept in the water in which it was found and brought to the laboratory for examination. We can then clean the device and address any corrosion-related issues before proceeding with the extraction and analysis of data.

Can you recover deleted files or text messages?

A: In many cases, yes. Most data is not immediately erased from a device when the user elects to delete a file or message. The content generally persists until new data overwrites it. Thus, we are often able to recover some or all of the previously deleted file or message. Obstacles to recovery of deleted data include encryption and continued use of the device for a significant time since the deletion occurred.

Can you still get data form a device if it has a passcode?

A: Again, in many cases, we can. However, the increasing implementation of encryption and other security mechanisms developed by manufacturers of both mobile devices and computer operating systems continues to present challenges to our work. For this reason, it is very important to obtain passcode information where possible, and if the passcode is unknown, there may be special handling considerations to follow in order to have the best chance of recovering data from the locked device.

Can you recover the video from a DVR with a passcode on it?

A: It is likely.  We have had a lot of success recovering data from hard drives from passcode-protected DVRs.

Can you recover deleted video from DVRs and/or other devices?

A: It is possible.  We have had limited success recovering deleted (or inaccessible) data from DVR systems.  It is dependent on the file system that is on the hard drive.

Can you recover video from Ring doorbells or other
Internet of Things (IoT) devices?

A: We can enhance saved Ring doorbell footage on local devices, but we do not have the ability to download any videos from cloud based storage.  Contact the service provider (Ring, Nest, etc.) to find out the best way to preserve and retrieve the data.

We have a video that won't play or is in a proprietary file format.
Can you help?

A: Yes.  We have the ability to convert many proprietary video formats into standard digital video formats.

We need log files from a DVR in our case. Can you help?

A: Yes.  We often export log files to show the access and activity logs on the DVR.

We need an image enhanced. Can you help?

A: Yes.  We enhance images in much the same way that we enhance video.

We need help with an audio recording. Can you help?

A: No.  The FDLE laboratory does not offer audio enhancement services.

We need help with a VHS tape. Can you help?

A: Yes.  We have equipment that can digitize analog video (like VHS tapes) for further enhancement.​

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