4 Hidden Issues With an Improvised In-House Digital Forensic Lab

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When the need arises to upgrade your computer forensic hardware, your first instinct may tell you to just wing it as you start looking for shortcuts. After all, your law enforcement agency is probably getting tons of work already and you’ve found yourself in need of a shiny new digital forensic lab setup to solve these cases efficiently.

At first glance, there are several perceived benefits of building an improvised computer forensics lab. These include:

  • Cost savings
  • Convenience
  • Rapid implementation
  • No comprehensive guidance
  • No direction
  • Prior familiarity

The problem is, this so-called shortcut can end up costing you much more time and money than it has the potential to save. In fact, many established law enforcement organizations have started out with an improvised digital forensic laboratory then later on decided to upgrade to a more professional solution once they’ve realized all the drawbacks associated with their original decision.

Outdated Digital Forensic Lab
An outdated Improvised In-House Digital Forensic Lab or Workstation

To make a compelling argument why improvisation might not be the best move to make if you’re running a reputable law enforcement agency, we’ll highlight 4 not-so-apparent issues with it that can arise when you least expect them:

Problem 1: It can take time to get proficient at it

Initially, your self-confidence may trick you into believing that everything is possible and no digital forensics technology is too complicated to get proficient at. While there’s nothing wrong with confidence, the question is – can you truly make an accurate estimate of how long it’s going to take to reach a suitable degree of proficiency?

The question is, can you afford to spend weeks or perhaps even months learning the ropes of complicated computer forensics technology while forensic lab work is slowly but surely piling on?

Even if you already know how to operate other types of cyber forensics technology, don’t assume it will come easy to learn new software. Despite the fact that you’ll get there eventually, only you know if you can afford to invest that much time into it (from what we’ve observed in practice, most law enforcement organizations can’t afford to wait a single day, let alone weeks or months).

Typically, this seems to be the case with open source digital forensics software. Even though it may be free, using it properly can be quite complicated. Not only that, but digital forensics software typically lacks any kind of support, which means that you’ll be left in the dark whenever there’s a technical issue you can’t solve.

That’s assuming the developers are still actively working on maintaining it and releasing updates for it. With free tools, you certainly won’t get the automatic report-generating feature that you get with a modern lab solution such as SalvationDATA’s Digital Forensic Lab.

Scenario Image of Digital Lab in SalvationDATA -2Time is a precious resource. When the outcome of a case is at stake, you cannot afford to waste any of it. A modern lab solution from SalvationDATA is a preferred option for your go.

Problem 2: Maintenance can be expensive

Although open-source software may be free, if you decide to take the improvised route, you’re still going to need to pay for computer forensic hardware. Bear in mind that you’re likely going to need to acquire each part separately, and the total costs that accumulate can get very expensive very fast. In comparison, buying pre-assembled digital forensic lab equipment will not only save you money but also time because you won’t need to search for every piece individually (which also eradicates any kind of compatibility issues).

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That’s not even considering the fact that any cyber forensic lab requires maintenance. Neglect it, and you may very well find your forensic lab breaking down on you when you need it the most. And even if you somehow manage to keep it operational, what will you do when the open-source digital forensics software is no longer receiving updates due to its developer abandoning the project? If you want to stand a chance against the sly ways of modern criminals, it must be current and up-to-date.

Digital Forensic LabJust like any other sophisticated machine, your digital forensic lab will require costly maintenance.

Problem 3: Training your staff can get expensive too

Compared to paid digital forensics technology, open-source software is typically harder to master, which means you’re going to have to invest in training your staff. Note that this means the entire crew in your law enforcement organization. Do you have the budget for it? Keep in mind that, as the field of digital forensics evolves, attending further courses and workshops may be necessary to keep everyone at the top of their game. Therefore, training your staff is not a one-time expense.

Even if you try to rely on free training you can find on the internet, you run the risk of wasting your time on outdated, irrelevant, and oftentimes dangerous advice. Keep in mind the people who provide this so-called “training” may not even have a proper education in digital forensics, so they may not know the best industry practices like a trained and certified digital forensics expert does. At the end of the day, who you’re getting your information from can effectively dictate the outcome of a criminal investigation.

Video Investigation Portable 2.0 Training in Malaysia - 2Training the entire law enforcement department can deplete your budget in no time. However, the turnkey lab solution from SalvationDATA always encloses essential training for the staff.

Problem 4: It's not reliable

An improvised digital forensic lab has lots of hardware and software components that all need to work together for the digital forensic lab set up to function as a whole. When a single part of the machine no longer functions properly, either due to a software or hardware error, the whole thing can cease to operate, leaving you feeling like a fish without water, unable to progress with the digital forensics investigation.

Ask yourself: can you truly afford to find yourself in such a situation where the guilty could walk away unpunished and the reputation of your law enforcement organization tarnished as a result of it? Most industry professionals would answer with a clear “no”.

Therein lies the danger of free digital forensics solutions – not only can they fail you when you need them the most, due to potentially staining your organization’s good name and not being able to solve the case, but they can also actually end up costing you more money than you thought you’d save by using them. Which, in essence, is a self-defeating purpose.

promotion-ceremony-policeOnce your department’s reputation is tarnished, it’s hard to win it back. How to get your promotion then?

Why a turnkey digital forensic lab is a better alternative?

Now that we’ve established the inherent problems you are likely to encounter with an improvised solution, it’s time to make a case for professional digital forensics solutions such as SalvationDATA’s Digital Forensic Lab.

Although there is an upfront cost, in the grand scheme of things, it will actually save you both time and money in the long run, so think of it as an investment.

Top view - digital forensic lab

The benefits you get with it are enormous:

  • It’s a one-stop turnkey solution. In other words, it comes with everything you could possibly need in a digital forensics investigation, including a data center, a control center, a command center, and all the other software as well as hardware all in one place. This guarantees that everything will be fully functional from day 1 and you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues.
  • It’s designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. How many times have you had to spend countless hours learning the ropes with other solutions that came without a manual, were needlessly complicated, and there was no support included? Digital Forensic Lab is a whole new experience with none of these problems.
  • There is a streamlined step-by-step setup process. This means no more second-guessing what step comes next as everything is laid out for you in a streamlined and organized manner. And if you need further guidance during the process, a friendly customer support department is just a phone call away.

Digital Lab Division in SalvationDATAThe function division of an advanced digital forensic Lab 

  • An upgrade to outdated digital forensic solutions. Digital Forensic Lab consists of the latest breakthroughs in the digital forensics industry and is constantly updated as soon as new digital forensics technology comes out.
  • Neatly organize all of your workflows in one single place. No more jumping around from computer to computer to complete the investigation! Digital Forensic Lab features a digital workbench, a dual monitor workstation, and more.
  • Kiss goodbye to software and hardware incompatibilities! The output it generates can be imported between different modules you get with your lab, allowing for a smooth workflow.

Workflow-in-SalvationDATA-Digital-Lab2Scientific workflow based on a cutting-edge digital forensic lab

  • Enjoy more credibility and boost the reputation of your law enforcement organization. Remember this is a professional digital forensic solution trusted by the world’s top police forces.
  • Uniformly visualize evidence. Access all the files from a single control center, regardless of what format they are.
  • Automatically generate detailed digital forensics investigation reports. No longer waste precious time and manpower dealing with bureaucratic issues when it can better be spent on cracking the case.
  • Let your office become a place of comfort. Thanks to its intuitive and modern design, you’ll immediately know where everything is and how to use it.
  • Stay on top of modern crime. This is an industry-grade digital forensic solution well suited to untangle the intricacies and complexity of modern criminal techniques.
  • Finally, get that promotion you deserve. Thanks to its advanced features and digital forensics technology, you will be able to successfully solve more cases with a greater degree of accuracy.
  • Comes with easy-to-follow manuals and guidance. In case you get stuck on a technicality, there is a whole dedicated customer support crew on standby ready and willing to answer your queries!
  • Built on the latest industry trends and developments. If there’s an anti-forensics technique that criminals know about, it will no longer hinder your efforts to catch them in their tracks thanks to the advanced cyber forensics technology built into the lab.
  • Save time and money. Have your new turnkey computer forensics lab up and running in no time. Deploy it in an instant and start solving crime cases. Never waste time on outdated free digital forensics software that’s hard to use in addition to being needlessly complicated.

Digital Forensic Lab - Control CenterFinally, get the professional digital forensic lab you deserve.


Although an improvised digital forensics lab may seem like a good idea at the start, it has so many hidden caveats and pitfalls that are probably not worth the hassle (unless you have an unlimited amount of time on your shoulders).

A professional solution is unrivaled in terms of reliability, time and money savings, accuracy, and the underlying computer forensics technology. In the long run, it essentially pays for itself due to granting you the ability to solve more cases in less time and with greater accuracy, thereby leading to better career opportunities as well as industry recognition.