The #1 Forensic Email Collector and Search Tool for Investigators

Aid4Mail – A fast and highly accurate email forensics tool. Superior forensic email recovery that retrieves data missed by other software.

As a forensic investigator, you face the challenge of dealing with vast amounts of email data. Traditional tools often fall short, making investigations slow and less effective. Missing crucial evidence can mean the difference between solving a case and hitting a dead end.

Imagine spending weeks on an email investigation, only to realize your software missed key evidence. Dealing with multiple email formats and service providers adds to the complexity, risking data integrity and slowing progress. The frustration can feel overwhelming, making your crucial work even more challenging.

Digital forensics investigator using Aid4Mail on Windows machine.

Enter Aid4Mail, a tool specifically designed to tackle these challenges head-on. It’s fast—processing data up to 10 times quicker than its competitors. This speed transforms weeks of work into just days, without sacrificing accuracy or thoroughness.

Aid4Mail supports a wide range of email formats and services. Whether it’s PST, OST, or webmail, all are handled with ease. Aid4Mail’s versatility means you’re ready for any investigation, regardless of the data format.

Data integrity is at the heart of Aid4Mail. It preserves folder structures, attachments, and metadata exactly as they are. This ensures your evidence remains reliable and court-admissible, an essential requirement in your field.

Aid4Mail’s recovery capabilities are second to none. Retrieve deleted or corrupted emails and uncover vital evidence that other tools miss. You can delve deeper into your investigations, confident that no stone is left unturned.

The software is user-friendly and designed with simplicity in mind. Advanced filtering options, including Boolean searches, make pinpointing specific data straightforward and efficient.

Experience Aid4Mail’s impact on investigations for yourself. Download the free trial and discover how it transforms your email forensic work. With Aid4Mail, you’re not just choosing a tool; you’re elevating your investigative capabilities to new heights.

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Not convinced yet? Please read on for in-depth coverage of Aid4Mail’s many unique capabilities. It’s a long article, but you don’t have to read it all. Use the floating Table of Contents menu on the right (or below, if you’re on a phone) to jump to a section that interests you.

Why Every Digital Investigator Needs a Specialized Email Forensics Tool

Email is still king when it comes to communication, especially in the professional world. According to Statista, around 361 billion emails will be sent daily in 2024. And those numbers keep increasing!

Why does this matter?

Email produces such vast amounts of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) that it’s usually a dominating component of ediscovery and digital forensics investigations. Many cases have been solved by investigators finding incriminating data in email messages or their attachments. Unfortunately, suboptimal forensic acquisition tools have unnecessarily prolonged investigations and sometimes caused their failure.

Don’t make that mistake! Choosing a quality forensic email collector can make the difference between solving a crime quickly and failing to find incriminating information. This is why you should consider Aid4Mail an essential component of your digital forensics tools.

If you already use a comprehensive digital forensics tool, like Magnet Axiom, OpenText Encase, or Exterro FTK, Aid4Mail makes an excellent companion. You’ll benefit from:

  • Broad Format Compatibility: Aid4Mail boasts unparalleled versatility with support for a wide range of email formats and services:
    • Popular local storage solutions like PST, OST, and mbox
    • Rarely supported native formats like Apple Mail and Maildir
    • Cloud-based solutions like Microsoft Exchange, Gmail, and Yahoo! Mail
    • Archival exports from Google Vault, Mimecast, and Proofpoint
  • Blazing-Fast Processing Speed: Aid4Mail’s advanced algorithms enable you to process large volumes of local data at speeds up to 10 times faster than competing tools. With native pre-acquisition filtering and incremental processing, Aid4Mail can collect webmail up to 100 times faster than other tools. In an industry where time is of the essence, this can turn weeks of work into a matter of days.
  • Unrivaled Data Integrity: In forensic investigations, maintaining the integrity of your data is paramount. Aid4Mail guarantees the preservation of email metadata, message status information, and message content, ensuring that the evidence you present is always accurate and reliable.
  • Powerful Recovery and Carving Capabilities: Aid4Mail excels in uncovering hidden or seemingly lost information that other products miss. Its sophisticated recovery tools can retrieve deleted or corrupted emails, and its carving feature unearths crucial evidence in disk images and extracted unallocated space.
  • Accurate Email Conversion: During forensic email collection, Aid4Mail accurately converts your data to formats that are easily imported into your primary investigation tool—for example, PST, MSG, mbox, EML, or CSV files.

A Comprehensive Forensic Email Collector

A professional forensic email collector must support a wide range of file formats and service providers. It should also be optimized for speed to efficiently handle large volumes of data in a reasonable time. And it must do all it can to preserve data integrity during the collection process, and report issues when they occur.

Aid4Mail is optimized for speed and stability. It can work through terabytes of data without user intervention. Aid4Mail performed 6 to 10 times faster than its competitors in tests with local files. For example, a forensic email collection taking a week to complete with a competing solution would require just one day with Aid4Mail—a considerable time-saving!

With Aid4Mail, you’re in complete control of your data, and all processing is performed on-premises. This is safer because it avoids sharing sensitive data with third-party service providers. It can also significantly reduce costs by avoiding additional fees based on the volume of data processed.

Support for Most Email Formats and Services

Local Email Storage

The following file formats are supported:

  • PST, OST, and MSG files from Microsoft Outlook
  • OLM files from Outlook for Mac
  • Mbox files from Mozilla Thunderbird, Google Takeout, etc.
  • EML files, used to store a single email message
  • Maildir files in native format from an IMAP server
  • Apple Mail (EMLX) in native format

Aid4Mail can process PST files with or without Outlook. It’s noticeably faster with Outlook, and you can further reduce processing time by using native filtering. We’re not aware of any other PST forensics tools offering this capability.

Aid4Mail integrates an advanced email parser that can accurately extract emails from corrupted mbox files. This is essential because of the prevalence of damage in those types of files.

Note that some competing products claim to support EMLX files from Apple Mail. Our tests found those claims to be misleading, resulting in significant data loss. We’re confident that Aid4Mail is the only forensic email collector that can accurately extract Apple Mail messages with all their contents and metadata.

Microsoft Outlook and Exchange

Aid4Mail provides several methods to collect emails from Microsoft Outlook and Exchange accounts. You can access the account through an Outlook profile (using MAPI), the IMAP protocol, or Microsoft’s Graph API. Each method offers native pre-acquisition filtering, which can significantly speed up forensic email collection.

Note that, to collect mail from Exchange Online Archives, and Public and Shared folders, you must use an Outlook profile.

Outlook profile selected as Source format in Aid4Mail
The Outlook profile configuration screen

Webmail Service Providers

Collect emails from all webmail service providers that support the IMAP protocol. These include Microsoft 365 (formerly Outlook 365), Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, AOL, etc. Aid4Mail can also access Gmail accounts through the Google APIs. Fast native pre-acquisition filtering is available for all these accounts.

Aid4Mail supports the OAuth2 login protocol, enabling secure access to your (or your custodian’s) webmail account.

Google API selected as source format in Aid4Mail
The Gmail account configuration screen
Remote Authentication

Collecting email from your custodians’ cloud-based accounts is made easier with Aid4Mail Remote Authenticator—a free stand-alone utility that they can download and run without installation. It enables the account owner to grant Aid4Mail secure, temporary access to their email service, or IMAP account, without providing full login credentials, and without having a copy of Aid4Mail.

The Aid4Mail Remote Authenticator program.
The Aid4Mail Remote Authenticator program.

Archival Formats

Aid4Mail can extract mail from the following archival formats:

  • Google Takeout
  • Google Vault exports (zipped MBOX files)
  • Mimecast exports (zipped EML SJF or EJF files)
  • Proofpoint exports (password-protected zipped EML files)

Note that you’ll need the Enterprise edition of Aid4Mail to process Google Vault, Mimecast, and Proofpoint exports.

Unknown Formats

Aid4Mail Investigator integrates a powerful file carving tool that can extract whole or partial emails stored in MIME format, from any uncompressed file type. It can also carve emails from uncompressed disk images or forensically extracted disk space. This includes double-deleted files, slack space, and unallocated space.

Incremental Processing (Differential Acquisition)

Processing errors typically relate to:

  • Server timeouts, overloads, or bandwidth limits
  • Lost internet connections
  • Insufficient free disk space on the target drive, etc.

This is where incremental processing (differential acquisition) comes to the rescue. Aid4Mail identifies the emails that have been added since (or missed during) the last cycle and processes only them. In other words, it lets you pick up where you left off; no need to start all over again.

Aid4Mail offers incremental processing for all supported email formats and performs it natively, server-side, when collecting from cloud services like Microsoft 365, Gmail, and Yahoo! Mail.

This ability is usually missing in other tools. It is a significant time-saver because Aid4Mail can determine whether it has already processed an email before downloading it. As a result, resuming an aborted acquisition is very fast and reduces the risk of reaching those dreaded service bandwidth limits.

Options for configuring incremental processing.
Options for configuring incremental processing.

Built for Speed

Processing Local Files

Aid4Mail is highly optimized for speed without sacrificing reliability or accuracy. When processing local mailbox files, it can parse, collect, and convert emails up to 10 times faster than competing email forensics tools—a considerable time-saving!

We conducted speed tests using a standard ASUS laptop (2022 model with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and an internal SSD drive). Our tests included converting the publicly available John Podesta email collection, a 5 GB file containing 50,887 emails.

In our first test, Aid4Mail converted the Podesta emails from mbox to Outlook PST in 2 minutes and 59 seconds. That’s a rate of 284 emails per second!

mbox to pst conversion speed test
Completed progress information for the mbox to PST conversion.

In our second test, Aid4Mail converted the same data from PST to mbox in 8 minutes and 10 seconds, a rate of 103 emails per second. The slower performance in this second test is due to additional processing to preserve metadata and improve conversion accuracy. Despite this, Aid4Mail still performed faster than competing tools. With a high-end computer, you can expect even better results.

PST to MBOX conversion speed test Aid4Mail
Completed progress information for the PST to mbox conversion.

Note that you can download the Podesta mbox file from the internet for free. Use it to test your current digital forensics tool and compare its performance with Aid4Mail. We’d be happy to provide you with a download link if you can’t find it. Just contact us with your request.

Remote Accounts

Aid4Mail is optimized for cloud-based email accounts, offering two time-saving features often missing in other tools. Both involve native, server-side processing of emails and are covered in the following sections:

  1. Incremental processing
  2. Native pre-acquisition filtering

With these capabilities, Aid4Mail can collect emails up to 100 times faster than tools without them.

Concurrent Processing

With Aid4Mail Investigator and Aid4Mail Enterprise, you can run multiple processing tasks simultaneously, taking full advantage of your computer’s hardware and saving more time. Consider a scenario where you need to collect email accounts from several employees under investigation, or one where you need to gather multiple source formats from a single custodian.

For example, you might need to collect data from a custodian’s Microsoft 365 account, Gmail account, local Thunderbird files, and archived EML files, and combine them into the same batch of target PST files. With Aid4Mail, you can set up the project in advance and let it run overnight so that no time is wasted.

Concurrent sessions handling different types of format conversions.
Concurrent sessions handling different types of format conversions.

Alternatively, you may have four tasks that use the same input but require different filters, with the results output to separate folders within the same PST file. In Aid4Mail, all four tasks can be run concurrently, and unattended, while you are working on something else. You can see an example of this in the screenshot below.

Concurrent sessions handling different searches from one source file and different outputs.
Concurrent sessions handling different searches from one source file and different outputs.

Data Integrity

Data integrity and preservation is an essential part of digital forensics. Without it, you risk compromising your case due to loss of evidence. Large mbox files and Outlook PST files often contain data corruption, and some email client programs worsen the situation by deviating from format standards in undocumented ways. Even fully intact email is vulnerable to data loss during collection, format conversion, and target storage.

Aid4Mail stands out from other digital forensics tools in its ability to maintain data integrity. It is built on a foundation of 25 years of email processing, significantly longer than other email forensic tools on the market. Not only does Aid4Mail avoid data loss during processing, but it can usually repair pre-existing data corruption, and work around non-standard file format implementations.

Read on for details of how Aid4Mail excels at preserving data integrity.

Folder Names and Structure

Preserving folder structures and names during mail collection helps to quickly distinguish between emails like Sent, Drafts, Deleted, Spam, and Received messages. It also reveals how custodians grouped and organized their incoming mail. This makes it easier to sift through extensive email collections and find clues to the most significant messages.

Aid4Mail lets you include or exclude folders during the acquisition process. This can significantly speed up email collection, especially if you can exclude large folders with unnecessary content. However, folder filtering only works reliably when based on an accurate representation of the source account. Aid4Mail provides this.

The Folder selection screen.
The Folder selection screen.

Aid4Mail excels at preserving data integrity with respect to the email folder structure. It particularly stands out among other solutions when handling Google Takeout files, Google Vault exports, Maildir stores, and local Thunderbird mailboxes. This is because Aid4Mail understands the unique implementations of these formats and is able to work with (or around) them.

Attachments and Embedded Contents

During email collection, certain storage formats have a higher risk of data loss of attachments and embedded content. This concerns formats that don’t store or deliver emails in native MIME format; for example, Apple Mail EMLX files, Thunderbird and RFC 1521 emails with detached attachments, and emails acquired through Microsoft Outlook.

Again, Aid4Mail understands the unique implementations of all these formats. Unlike many forensic acquisition tools, it handles them correctly and recovers their attachments (as long as they haven’t been moved or deleted).

Header Metadata

If processed incorrectly, specific email formats and protocols are susceptible to loss of header metadata. This occurs when collecting messages through Outlook’s MAPI protocol or accessing MSG, OST, and PST files through third-party DLLs.

We’ve seen results from forensic email collectors that lost important information including:

  • Email addresses
  • Sender’s time zone
  • IP address
  • Server relay information
  • Original Message-ID
  • Thread index

This level of data loss is potentially disastrous when performing email header forensics. You can easily avoid these serious issues by using Aid4Mail.

Email Status Information

Email status information tells you about the actions taken on a received message. For example, whether it was read, replied to, or forwarded. It also indicates the status of an outgoing message, whether it is still a draft, unsent, or sent. Emails can also be flagged (or starred), and marked as double-deleted. This is crucial information as it provides valuable insights into the lifecycle and interactions associated with an email.

Some forensic acquisition tools do not collect email status information at all, or only partially collect it. Aid4Mail stands out again by preserving this important data, whether the emails are obtained from cloud-based accounts or from local stores such as Google Takeout, OST, and PST files.

Format Errors

There are many different email client programs and cloud-based systems for sending messages. Unfortunately, some don’t fully respect standards, or they contain bugs that produce email format errors.

We have encountered a considerable number of these format errors during our many years of creating email solutions, even from companies like Microsoft and Google. The result of our extensive experience is that Aid4Mail can fix many of these errors, ensuring emails and their metadata render without data loss.

Progress and Error Reporting

Aid4Mail provides detailed progress information and error reporting to ensure a smooth experience. You can track the progress of your task through real-time indications of both the amount of data processed and the estimated time to completion. You have access to a detailed progress report and, when necessary, an error log. The software displays various counters indicating how many folders and emails have been collected, excluded by your filter criteria, and failed due to errors.

Real-time progress information.
Real-time progress information.

Superior Forensic Email Recovery

To ensure a successful email forensics investigation, you must collect as much relevant evidence as possible. This includes emails a suspect has deleted, and emails contained inside damaged or deleted files.

Aid4Mail Investigator and Enterprise integrate email carving capabilities that outperform most forensic data recovery software. In other words, Aid4Mail can successfully recover more emails than digital forensics solutions costing thousands of dollars more. The quality of forensic email recovery matters—with the wrong tool, you might miss critical responsive ESI.

Double-Deleted (Unpurged) Emails

Aid4Mail Investigator and Enterprise can recover double-deleted emails (unpurged mail). These emails are no longer available in the Trash or Deleted Items folders. Aid4Mail can recover them from IMAP accounts, mbox files, and the Exchange Recoverable Items folder (for Microsoft 365 and other Microsoft accounts accessible through MAPI).

The Folder selection screen showing recoverable Items on an Exchange account.
Showing the Exchange Recoverable Items folder.

When people delete emails and empty their Trash folder, they may think they have hidden any wrongdoing. Don’t let them get away with it! Recover those double-deleted emails with Aid4Mail; you will find lots of responsive material.

Corrupted Mbox Files

The generic mbox file format (including mboxo and mboxrd variants) is widely used. Google Takeout and Google Vault use it as their export format. Mozilla Thunderbird and SeaMonkey, Mutt, Elm, Nmh, and Evolution use it as their native mail storage format.

Unfortunately, the mbox format has a severe weakness. It is a straightforward database format that stores emails in native format, one after another, using a simple delimiter to identify the start of each message. It can be difficult to accurately identify the delimiter because certain programs create variations in the format.

An email may contain what looks like a delimiter but is not. This can result in a single email being misidentified as two or more. Bugs in client programs may cause delimiters or emails to save incorrectly in the mbox file, creating corruption. And, more rarely, issues with the computer file system or hard drive can damage the file.

Throughout the years we’ve been developing Aid4Mail, we have seen all kinds of corruption in mbox files. Every time, we have successfully developed methods to work around the damage. Our tests show that Aid4Mail systematically recovers more emails than competing solutions.

For one test, we created an mbox file containing the most common types of corruption observed over the years. Aid4Mail was able to recover all its emails. We then compared the results with ten competing email recovery tools. The best recovered less than 82% of emails, and the worst just 30%. Averaging the results gave a 65% success rate for competing solutions versus 100% for Aid4Mail.

🛈 We’d be happy to provide you with a copy of the corrupted mbox file so you can conduct your own tests. Just contact us with your request.

Carving Out MIME Data

Aid4Mail Investigator and Enterprise offer a powerful carving tool that can uncover emails in forensically extracted unallocated space or an uncompressed disk image. They can “carve” out MIME emails from almost any file, including corrupt and unsupported mailboxes.

While these features are not unique to Aid4Mail, its performance is outstanding. In tests, Aid4Mail finds emails in unallocated space that other forensic email recovery tools can’t detect. It recovers whole emails when others only find fragments. Even if you already use a digital forensics platform with carving capabilities, Aid4Mail can be beneficial by finding evidence that these tools miss.

🛈 We’d be happy to provide you with a sample DD Disk Image file so you can conduct your own tests. Just contact us with your request.

Keyword Search and Filtering

Collecting the appropriate data and finding specific, incriminating information is crucial. Fortunately, Aid4Mail’s forensic email search and filter features are second to none.

In addition to basic folder filtering available in all editions, Aid4Mail Investigator and Aid4Mail Enterprise add email content search, including attachments and embedded files. Features range from basic date and keyword filtering to support for complex search queries with Boolean constructs, wildcards, Regular Expressions, multilingual stemming, and more.

Aid4Mail’s search engine is fully Unicode compliant and supports queries in any language, including non-Latin scripts like Greek, Arabic, and Chinese.

Native Pre-Acquisition Filtering

When accessing PST files, Gmail, Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), MS Exchange, or IMAP accounts, you can use Aid4Mail’s native pre-acquisition search to limit the scope of collected emails. This works by filtering mail directly on the server before downloading, or by filtering internal indexes in the case of PST files.

By narrowing the date range, and including specific keywords and message properties in your filter, you can avoid downloading unnecessary emails altogether. This will significantly speed up collection and acquire a higher ratio of responsive emails.

Settings for native filtering.
Settings for native filtering.

Minimizing the volume of emails retrieved from cloud accounts has a key advantage: it reduces the likelihood of service-provider data throttling. Throttling can significantly slow down email delivery or cap daily downloads. However, it can be effectively mitigated using Aid4Mail’s native pre-acquisition filter, circumventing such frustrations.

Beware of email forensics tools that have an undisclosed search cap, which may significantly affect your results. For example, a popular forensic email collector we tested could not retrieve more than 500 emails from a Gmail account. The software reached this cap without warning, and hundreds of emails were missing from the collection! This does not happen with Aid4Mail.

Search Syntax and Features

Aid4Mail does not rely on concordance indexes for its search and filter capabilities. Instead, it uses a fast, live search engine that operates on emails as soon as they are collected. The search syntax is easy to learn, similar to that of Gmail and Microsoft 365.

Search queries can include:

  • Fielded searches (search specific parts of each email including attachments and file metadata)
  • Boolean constructs (AND, OR, NOT, etc.)
  • Comparisons operators (>, <, =, <>)
  • Proximity search operators (like Google’s AROUND and Microsoft’s NEAR operators, and more)
  • Deduplication
  • Wildcards and Regular Expressions
  • Multilingual stemming (up to 24 languages) and tokenization

Aid4Mail search queries offer unique features that even Google and Microsoft cannot match! For example:

  • Filter out non-personal emails (bulk mail, mailing lists, etc.) with a single operator.
  • Filter emails by day of the week or time of the day sent.
  • Find two search terms within the same sentence or paragraph instead of arbitrarily deciding how many words separate them.
  • Use keyword search lists that can include thousands of simple or complex criteria.
Item filtering settings with a complex search query.
Item filtering settings with a complex search query.

Metadata and Attachments

Responsive data may not always be present in the message body of an email. Sometimes, it can be found in other parts, such as the header, attachments, or embedded files (e.g., PDFs, pictures, and videos). Or even in metadata associated with these files. Therefore, examining these elements can provide valuable insights and help conduct effective digital forensics investigations.

Aid4Mail provides fielded search operators, acting on email header metadata like the sender, recipients, date, etc. Unique operators enable you to search for emails sent on specific days of the week, or times of the day. For example, you can find all emails sent over lunchtime during workdays.

A search query to find emails sent within a specific time frame.
A search query to find emails sent within a specific hour of the day.

Email status information is valuable metadata, rarely exploited during investigations because many digital forensic tools don’t support it. Aid4Mail does and offers a search operator specifically for status information. Use it to exclude unread emails, or only collect flagged/starred emails, for example.

A search query to find emails that were read and flagged/starred.
A search query to find emails that were read and flagged/starred.

Aid4Mail can search the contents of attachments and their metadata recursively. For example, it can find a word in a PDF file, that’s contained within a ZIP archive, attached to an email, that is itself an attachment of the source email. Another complex example would be EXIF metadata contained in a picture from a TAR archive, that is attached to an email in a ZIP file, attached to the source email.

Filtering with Python

Aid4Mail’s support for Python scripts enables you to completely customize filters and add new features.

Here are some examples:

  • Integrate OCR capabilities into your search or scan images for nudity.
  • Perform sentiment analysis on email content to gauge the emotional tone or intent of communications.
  • Implement language detection to aid investigations involving multilingual communication.
  • Use IP geolocation libraries to trace the physical locations associated with IP addresses, in email headers, to determine sender locations.
  • Identify and cross-reference social media profiles mentioned in emails, to link email identities with online personas.

Accurate Email Conversion and Data Extraction

Significant time and effort have gone into making Aid4Mail one of the most versatile and accurate email conversion tools available. Its high-end email parser can convert messages, their contents, and metadata into a variety of formats for review and analysis with other tools.

Data Integrity and Preservation

During the acquisition, review, or production phase, a forensic email collector must usually convert email from one format to another. If not performed correctly, significant data loss can occur. Certain format conversions are more prone to this than others, notably conversions between Outlook files (PST, OST, and MSG) and MIME formats (mbox and EML).

Data loss can affect various aspects of email data. The following may be missing altogether:

  • Embedded images and attachments
  • Original email SMTP header and Message-ID value
  • Sender or recipient email addresses
  • Message status information (unread, read, replied, etc.)

Other parts of the email may be present but incorrectly converted:

  • Folder names
  • Dates, especially time zones

Data loss is sometimes unavoidable due to the constant evolution and complexity of mail systems and formats. However, it can be mitigated by using a specialized and up-to-date email forensics tool like Aid4Mail.

Aid4Mail’s conversion engine boasts over 25 years of expertise and is updated regularly to respond to changes in the products it interacts with. In conversions between MIME and Outlook formats, Aid4Mail outperforms most of its competitors. It is one of the few tools that can convert native Apple Mail files (EMLX) without any data loss, as well as Thunderbird and RFC 1521 emails with “detached” attachments.

We know how to preserve data integrity, that’s how we built our reputation!

Email Backup Option

Sometimes, format conversion fails due to issues with the target API (typically with MAPI or IMAP). When this happens, it is essential to have a backup of the source email for preservation purposes.

Aid4Mail stores email backups locally under a folder structure that mirrors the source account. Emails collected through Outlook, or from PST and OST files, are backed up as MSG files. Emails from other formats are backed up as EML files.

Remove Journaling Envelope

Organizations use email journaling to create and maintain a secure and tamper-proof record of all email communications. They do this to satisfy compliance and legal requirements, as well as for data retention and disaster recovery.

A journaled email comprises:

  1. The journal envelope, containing:
    1. A header with essential metadata such as sender and recipient addresses, timestamps, and transport information.
    2. A body with the journal report that typically includes sender and recipient addresses (including Bcc and distribution list recipients) and the original Message-ID value.
  2. An attachment containing the complete, unaltered original email message.

In an investigation, journaled messages present several challenges. For example:

  • Depending on the email client program, the original message is shown as an attachment, and so can only be accessed after extraction.
  • When using fielded searches on header metadata, important information only available in the original email header, or journal report, may be missed.

Aid4Mail solves these challenges with two unique features:

  1. Remove the journaling envelope during collection.
  2. Preserve essential metadata by adding the sender, and all recipient addresses, from the journal report to the original email header.
Aid4Mail’s setting to remove the journaling envelope.
Aid4Mail’s setting to remove the journaling envelope.

Review and Ingestion Formats

Aid4Mail can convert emails to formats commonly used in email forensics investigations. These include PST, PDF, CSV, EML, and mbox, as well as more unusual formats like HTML, XML, and plain text. PST files, frequently used for ingestion into an ediscovery platform, or for review in Outlook, are by far the most popular format.

Emails are often converted to PDF files, a convenient format for presenting evidence in court or sharing with others. Aid4Mail offers standard PDF as well as variants, including PDF/A. You can insert Bates stamping into PDF pages, embed attachments in their native format, password-protect files, and more.

Screenshot of a PDF page created by Aid4Mail showing an email message.
Screenshot of a PDF page created by Aid4Mail showing an email message.

By converting emails to HTML, you can view them in any web browser, rendered as in a mail app. Attachments are stored separately in their native format, relative to the HTML file, and accessible from a link in the email message. You can even customize the HTML data to fit your requirements.

Aid4Mail includes a convenient HTML email viewer. It displays a list of all available emails as well as the content of the selected item. You can filter emails by folder, or by keywords in the date, subject, sender, and recipient fields.

You can upload the HTML output to a website and share the link to the viewer page with others. Your audience can then access faithfully rendered messages, and attachments in their native format. Don’t forget to scan all the files with an anti-virus before uploading.

Screenshot of a browser window showing the HTML email viewer created by Aid4Mail.
Screenshot of a browser window showing the HTML email viewer created by Aid4Mail.

Data Extraction

To perform metadata and attachment analysis in your investigation, you will need to extract relevant data from emails. Aid4Mail offers flexibility and complete control over this process.

Its high-end email parser can reliably extract:

  • Regular email attachments
  • Embedded message content (like inserted pictures)
  • The message in plain text format
  • Available message metadata

Aid4Mail’s configuration editor enables you to choose exactly which data to extract.

The configuration editor for selecting metadata that will be saved in the target delimited file.
The configuration editor for selecting metadata that will be saved in the target delimited file.

Extracted attachments and embedded contents are saved in their native formats. Metadata and message text are saved in CSV (comma-separated values) files, either database-compliant or Microsoft Excel-compliant, or as TSV (tab-separated values) files.

Ease of Use and Accessibility

Aid4Mail offers a friendly interface for performing conversions quickly. And, unlike many other digital forensics tools, Aid4Mail supports high-resolution displays and provides accessibility features. You’ll also find plenty of resources to help with your email processing tasks.

Get Help When You Need It

We’re known for our customer support! All editions of Aid4Mail come with:

  • Context-sensitive help with a description of each setting. Press F1 in Aid4Mail to open it in the right place.
  • A comprehensive user manual, available in PDF and Windows Help (CHM) formats for offline use.
  • A large selection of online Knowledge Base articles.
  • An AI chatbot on our website that can answer most technical questions within seconds.
  • Access to our award-winning helpdesk, which typically responds to questions within a few hours.

Accessibility Features

Aid4Mail includes accessibility features to provide a more inclusive and user-friendly experience for a broad spectrum of users. This includes people with disabilities and anyone who finds such features beneficial.

High-contrast mode and a user-interface zoom assist users with visual impairments. Those with cognitive disabilities or mobility impairments can navigate the interface with a keyboard or dictation instead of a mouse.

Aid4Mail’s user-interface displayed under high-contrast mode.
Aid4Mail’s user-interface displayed under high-contrast mode.

Aid4Mail vs. Other Forensics Tools

Aid4Mail specializes in emails and their attachments and can collect, find, and recover mail that other forensics tools miss—it is an industry leader in this domain. Due to this specialization, Aid4Mail’s workflow differs from traditional digital forensics software like OpenText Encase, Exterro FTK, and Magnet Axiom. By focusing on its primary tasks, collecting, filtering, and converting emails takes a fraction of the time needed by other computer forensics tools.

Here’s why:

  • Once configured, Aid4Mail can operate without user intervention. There is no manual review stage to interrupt the streamlined workflow.
  • Aid4Mail’s native pre-acquisition filtering can significantly reduce the volume of data downloaded from IMAP accounts and mail servers like Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Gmail.
  • With no review stage between email collection and conversion, Aid4Mail doesn’t need to build search indexes. This saves a lot of time and system resources.

As a result, you can process terabytes of email data, unattended from start to finish, fast and accurately. And, unlike hosted ediscovery tools like Relativity, Everlaw, and LogikCull, the whole process happens on-premises, so you don’t incur third-party charges for the volume of data collected and processed. This significantly reduces costs.

If you need to examine a small forensic email collection, Aid4Mail offers convenient searchable formats, enabling you to review with the optimal app for your chosen output—examine PST files in Microsoft Outlook, Mbox files in Mozilla Thunderbird, PDF files in Adobe Reader, HTML files in your browser, CSV files in Microsoft Excel, and plain text files in a text editor.

If you cannot cull your forensic email collection to an adequate size, consider transferring Aid4Mail’s output to a comprehensive ediscovery platform like Relativity, Encase, Axiom, etc. Aid4Mail is an excellent complement to other digital forensics tools, thanks to its fast email collection, native pre-acquisition filtering, and email recovery.

Why Choose Aid4Mail?

Fookes Software has been developing software since 1989. Our first email tool was launched in 1999, followed by Aid4Mail in 2005. We have more than two decades of experience processing email data, longer than any other vendor of email forensic tools.

All core functionality in Aid4Mail is developed in-house. As a result, you benefit from key features that are tightly integrated and optimized for speed. We are in complete control of our code, including major components like email parsing and conversion, the filtering engine and its search syntax, MAPI access to Outlook accounts, and even the IMAP protocol used to connect with services like Yahoo! Mail and AOL.

Important clients around the world rely on our software, and the numbers keep growing. They include:

  • US government and law enforcement agencies
  • Top law firms
  • National libraries
  • Prestigious universities
  • Major banks
  • International NGOs
  • Half of the Fortune 50 companies

Unique Functionality Missing in Other Digital Forensics Tools

Aid4Mail has a number of features that you won’t find in competing tools or, if they exist, are less well implemented. These are presented here, listed by Aid4Mail edition. (For a detailed feature comparison between the three Aid4Mail editions, check out our Aid4Mail 5 feature comparison table in PDF format.)

1. Aid4Mail Converter

Aid4Mail Competing Products
High-speed email collection and conversion engine slower and less accurate
Very fast native incremental processing
Process Apple Mail mailboxes in native format
Restore Google Takeout folder structure
Reliably extract emails from corrupted mbox files
Recover and preserve email status information not at all or partially
Remove the journaling envelope while preserving its metadata
Reorganize and group emails by sender, recipient, date, etc.
Remote authentication of custodian accounts not common

2. Aid4Mail Investigator

All the unique features of Aid4Mail Converter, plus:

Aid4Mail Competing Products
Native pre-acquisition search with cloud-based accounts and PST files not common, results capped
Search all mail formats using a Gmail and Microsoft 365 compatible syntax
Find two search terms within the scope of a sentence or paragraph
Filter emails based on the day of the week or the hour of the day
Exclude non-personal emails (bulk mail, mailing lists, etc.)
Reorganize mixed email collections by individual account owner
Forensic file-carving that accurately recovers MIME data from disk images
Recover MS Exchange items and unpurged mail from IMAP accounts, MBOX files, etc. not common

3. Aid4Mail Enterprise

All the unique features of Aid4Mail Investigator, plus:

Aid4Mail Competing Products
Collect mail from native Google Vault, Mimecast, and Proofpoint exports
Command-line interface for automation and seamless integration with other tools very limited
Licensing options for offline use, virtual machines (VM), servers, and USB key installations less flexible

Flexible Licensing Options

Aid4Mail licenses allow you to process an unlimited number of mail accounts and files, no matter their origin. You can purchase a one-year license, or three years at a reduced price. Either way, you benefit from free software updates and our award-winning customer support during the license validity period.

If you’re not ready to commit to a full license, we offer a low-cost two-week Aid4Mail Converter license as an alternative to our free trial.

On purchasing a license, you will receive an activation code that gets you up and running with Aid4Mail within minutes of payment. After activation, trial mode is disabled, and your license is linked to your computer and Windows login account. See the Aid4Mail EULA for details.

If you need to run Aid4Mail on a computer that doesn’t allow Internet access, simply contact us for an offline activation code. There is no charge for this option, but it is less flexible than online activation.

It is also possible to run Aid4Mail in a virtual environment. Pricing is determined by the number of concurrent users plus the total number of users and installations. Contact us for a quote.

If you’re ready to buy an Aid4Mail license, visit our Buy Now page for pricing details, an overview of each edition, and links to our online store.

Go to Pricing

Ready to Transform Your Email Investigations? Try Aid4Mail Today!

Step into a new era of digital forensics with Aid4Mail. By downloading the free trial, you’re not just testing another tool; you’re unlocking a suite of capabilities that will revolutionize your approach to email investigations:

  • Experience Unmatched Speed: Witness firsthand how quickly you can sift through vast volumes of emails, turning weeks of work into just days.
  • Explore Diverse Formats and Services: Test the tool’s versatility across various email formats and services, ensuring you’re equipped for any investigation scenario.
  • Assess Data Integrity Features: See how Aid4Mail meticulously preserves every detail of your email evidence, maintaining its admissibility in legal contexts.
  • Evaluate Advanced Recovery Options: Discover the tool’s ability to recover crucial evidence from deleted or corrupted emails that others might miss.
  • Enjoy User-Friendly Functionality: Experience the ease of navigating Aid4Mail’s interface, making complex forensic tasks simpler and more efficient.

Join the ranks of professionals who have elevated their forensic capabilities with Aid4Mail. Click the link below, download the free trial, and start experiencing the future of email forensics today.

 

Download Your Free Trial Now

 

Don’t let crucial evidence slip through the cracks. Aid4Mail is here to ensure it never does.

Client Testimonials

Aid4Mail exceeds our expectations on the speed in which it can convert data. It can convert larger amounts of data in no time at all. I would say it’s at least twice as fast as the rest of our tools
Jon Hanna, ESI Manager – Advanced Discovery (USA)
Aid4Mail is a spectacular product. I don’t think people realize how hard it is to reliably convert email from one format to another, and then do it at scale the way you do. It really is quite an accomplishment.
Matt Coan, Sonian
I often recommend my clients utilize Aid4Mail to assist in the conversion, search, and export of emails to aid in their eDiscovery cost containment strategies. Aid4Mail impressively allows flexibility in handling the myriad email formats found on modern computers, and is one of my must-have tools.
Richard D Lutkus – Partner – Seyfarth Shaw LLP (UK)
I work for a law firm and we used your product to convert a MBOX file to PST. This software worked brilliantly, it even fixed corruption that existed when we attempted to do it manually or with other software. Thank you for that.
Gregory Kerr, Lubin Olson & Niewiadomski LLP (USA)

Aid4Mail Rated 5 Stars at SourceForge!

An Aid4Mail user wrote on SourceForge. “I’m a litigation paralegal and a satisfied user of this product (various versions) for approximately 15 years. Over the years I have found this program to be a great timesaver for me as well as the attorneys I work with.” Click to read more user reviews.

Glossary

Application Programming Interface (API)

A method of communication between two pieces of software. Using a mail service’s API to access data usually offers benefits over using more general protocols like IMAP. For example, access to additional metadata, native filtering, and reduced bandwidth limitations. Email-related APIs used by Aid4Mail include MAPI, Microsoft Graph API, and Google APIs.

Digital Forensics

A branch of forensic science that focuses on identifying, collecting, preserving, analyzing, and presenting data from digital devices, such as computers, smartphones, and network servers. Its aim is to extract and examine digital evidence in a way that is legally admissible, often for the purpose of solving crimes or legal disputes.

Disk Image

A precise digital copy or snapshot of the contents of a storage device, such as a hard drive, SSD, CD, DVD, or USB drive. It captures the entire data structure, including all the files and folders, as well as system-specific information like the master boot record, file system, and partition table.

Disk Slack Space

Unused space on a storage drive that exists when a file does not entirely fill the space allocated to it. Storage on digital devices is organized into clusters (or blocks) of a fixed size. A file usually requires multiple clusters and does not completely fill the last one. The unused “slack” space may contain remnants of previously deleted data or random bits of information from the memory. In digital forensics, disk slack space can be a valuable resource for recovering hidden or inadvertently stored data, providing insight into previous activities on the device.

Double-Deleted Email

An email that has been deleted twice: first from the inbox or mail folder, and then again from the trash or Deleted Items folder.

Electronically Stored Information (ESI)

Any data or information that is created, stored, or used in digital form. ESI encompasses a wide range of data types, including emails, documents, presentations, databases, audio, and video files, social media content, and electronic records stored on digital devices like computers, smartphones, and servers.

Email Forensics

A branch of digital forensics focusing on the recovery and investigation of email as potential evidence in legal cases or security investigations. Email forensics involves the analysis of email messages, including their content, headers, attachments, and metadata. It is used to investigate cybercrimes like financial fraud, intellectual property theft, harassment, blackmail, and extortion, and plays a crucial role in any legal dispute where email is relevant to the case.

Email Message-ID

A unique string of characters in the email header, that identifies a message in the context of a particular email conversation or thread. The Message-ID is assigned by an email system when a message is created, and is used to track, reference, and relate individual emails. This helps to manage message threading and prevent duplication. In digital forensics and email analysis, the Message-ID can be crucial for tracing the origin and trajectory of an email.

Email SMTP Header

Metadata in an email message, containing detailed routing information. The SMTP header is automatically generated and located before the email message body. Although there is no limit to what can be added to it, key elements include the sender and recipient addresses, timestamps marking the email’s path through multiple servers, and unique identifiers for each server. Email service providers use the SMTP header to authenticate the email sender, and to correctly allocate incoming mail. In email forensics, the SMTP header is an essential resource for tracing the origin and path of an email, identifying spoofing, and understanding the network behavior of email communication.

Email Status Information

Metadata associated with an email that indicates the actions taken on it. For incoming mail, this includes whether the email has been read, replied to, or forwarded. For outgoing messages, it indicates whether an email is a draft, and whether sent or unsent. All emails can also be flagged, starred, or marked as double-deleted.

Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF)

A standard for storing information as metadata in image files. EXIF metadata is commonly used by digital cameras and smartphones, and typically includes the camera model, capture settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc.), and the image date, time, and location (GPS coordinates). It is useful for organizing and cataloging images, and can be crucial in digital forensics for verifying the authenticity and origin of photographic evidence.

Fielded Search Operator

A command used to narrow down search results by targeting a specific field or attribute of an email or document. It enables you to search for an element like the sender, recipient, subject line, date, or other metadata field.

File Carving

A process used in digital forensics to recover files from a storage medium (like a hard drive or memory card) without relying on the file system metadata. It is typically employed when the file system is damaged, incomplete, or unavailable (as in formatted or corrupted drives). File carving works by searching the raw bytes and reconstructing file data based on known structures, signatures, or patterns. It is particularly useful for recovering deleted files or extracting data from unallocated disk space.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)

An Internet Standard protocol (RFC 3501) supported by most email applications that enables direct access to mail on a remote server. IMAP allows multiple apps to access the same mail account, even from different devices. This feature is the main reason IMAP is generally preferred over POP, an older protocol that requires mail to be downloaded to the device.

Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI)

An API for accessing Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. Aid4Mail uses MAPI to read and write to Outlook profiles, and PST/MSG files when the “Process using Outlook” option is turned on.

Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)

An Internet standard for email messages that supports both data and metadata, non-ASCII character sets, multiple fonts, non-textual content, and multiple attachments of various file types. It is an extension of the original Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP).

Responsive Data

Data that is pertinent to matters of the case (in a legal context) and meets the criteria specified in a discovery request. It can be in various forms, such as emails, documents, images, or other electronically stored information (ESI).

RFC 1521

An early part of the MIME standard that defines support for non-ASCII character sets, multiple fonts, and non-textual content. We refer to this standard when discussing certain types of attachments based on the Message/External-Body subtype format that Aid4Mail supports.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

A standard protocol for email transmission. Mail servers use SMTP to both send and receive email messages. Email client programs typically only use SMTP to send messages (to the mail server for relaying), using IMAP or POP to retrieve them. SMTP was created in the 1980s and has since been modified and extended multiple times. The version commonly used today is extensible, with extensions for authentication, encryption, binary data transfer, and internationalized email addresses.

Stemming

The process of reducing words to their base or root form. For instance, the words “running,” “runs,” and “ran” are all stemmed from the root word “run.” This technique is used in search algorithms to improve their effectiveness, by allowing for the matching of word variants with a common stem. Stemming enhances the ability of search engines or text analysis tools to find relevant results when the exact form of a word is not known.

Tokenization

The process of breaking a string of text into smaller units, or tokens, usually words or phrases. Tokenization helps to identify key elements in a text. It is fundamental in text analysis and search algorithms, where the tokenized text is used for further processing like indexing or evaluating search queries.

Unallocated Space

The areas of a drive, or other storage device, that are not currently assigned to any files or directories. This space may contain remnants of deleted files, temporary files, or data fragments that have not been overwritten. In digital forensics, unallocated space is a valuable resource for recovering deleted data or investigating past activities on a device.

Virtual Machine (VM)

The virtualization of a computer system that provides the functionality of a physical computer and its operating system. With enough computing power, multiple virtual machines can run independently from one another on the same underlying hardware.

About Fookes Software

Fookes Software Ltd
La Petite Fin 27
1637 Charmey (en Gruyère)
Switzerland

For over 25 years we have been developing award-winning tools and productivity software. We also have more than 20 years of expertise in the field of email processing and analysis.

Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, law firms, universities, and professionals specializing in e-discovery and forensics from around the world.

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