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Body File

Body file may also be referred to as "bodyfile", however official documentation refers to it as body file (two separate words).

The body file format is a delimiter-separated output timeline format (as far as known) introduced by the The Sleuth Kit. Body files are pipe (|) delimited and are referred to as an "intermediate file", as they are not sorted chronologically and are often staged for post-processing. Subsequent timeline sorting is done via the mactime tool.

Data & Fields

All times within a body file are reported in UNIX time format. Lines that start with # are ignored and treated as comments.

There was a rewrite of body file output with The Sleuth Kit 3.0. However, some tools may still utilize version 2.x.

Default output fields are as follows:

Version 2.x

MD5 | path/name | device | inode | mode_as_value | mode_as_string | num_of_links | UID | GID | rdev | size | atime | mtime | ctime | block_size | num_of_blocks

Version 3.x

MD5 | name | inode | mode_as_string | UID | GID | size | atime | mtime | ctime | crtime

Note: Outputs do not include spaces between values and pipes; we have inserted them here for easier readability.

Known Issues

Known shortcomings with body file format are:

  • Undocumented granularity of timestamp, current implementation by The Sleuth Kit appears to be seconds. See here.
  • Undocumented extended file mode of -/-rrwxrwxrwx. Characters -/- are appended to the body file entry and r file entry type indication, presumably to indicate a "regular file".
  • Undocumented and inconsistent application of TSK metadata addresses. See here
  • Undocumented and inconsistent application of owner identifier (UID). See here.
  • Date and time values do not indicate a time zone or if daylight savings applies. Timestamps can be in either UTC or local time depending on the original file system.
  • Body file encoding is not specified, UTF-8 is assumed.
    • It is unclear how "invalid" Unicode characters should be handled, such as unpaired surrogates in NTFS file names.
  • The name field can contain ($FILE_NAME) to indicate the body file entry was derived from a NTFS $FILE_NAME attribute instead of $STANDARD_INFORMATION and $DATA attributes. Note that the exact behavior is not documented by the Sleuth Kit project.
  • The name field can contain -> symbolic_link_target but fls does not appear to support this for NTFS. Also see here.
  • It is unclear if the symbolic link target can be used in combination with the ($FILE_NAME) suffix.
  • It is unclear which characters should be escaped, by observation | and \ are both escaped with \ in the name field by fls but mactime is unable to handle a name that contains the | character. See here. Note: Other implementations are known to not escape \.
  • It is unclear from the specification if control characters should be escaped. See here. Other implementations are known to escape control characters as x## where ## contains the hexadecimal byte value of the control character.
  • The format of the inode field is unclear for file systems like NTFS, the documentation indicates that it uses a TSK Metadata Address, however by observation the implementation is TSK specific and does not seem to match what is documented. Also see here. Other implementations are known to store the 64-bit NTFS file reference value as the inode field.
  • The format of the mode_as_string field is unclear for file systems like NTFS, this likely can be derived from the source code. Also see here.
  • The Sleuth Kit currently does not correctly identify symbolic links for NTFS in the body file output. Also see here.
  • The atime, mtime, ctime, and crtime typically contain the number of seconds since January 1, 1970. It is unknown if a fractional part is allowed by specification. The corresponding mactime tool does allow for a fractional part to be present but ignores it. Also see here. This limits the usefulness of the format for timelines with a vast amount of sub-second activity.
  • The format of the MD5 field is undefined, however documentation indicates:
    • If hashing is disabled, the value will be 0.
    • If hashing is enabled, but no MD5 was calculated, the value will be 00000000000000000000000000000000. See here.


  • Duplicate entries for the same NTFS ADS. Also see here.


  • On HFS+ and HFSX the / character in a file name will be replaced by :, which corresponds with the behavior of Mac OS Terminal. Also see here.
  • For hard links on HFS+ the Catalog Node Identifier (CNID) of the link target (indirect node) file record is used instead as the inode value instead of the CNID of the (hard link) file record itself. This matches the behavior of Mac OS (file) stat as described here, in the section "Hard Links".
  • For HFS+ the MD5 calculation of fls includes:
    • Regular files
    • symbolic links (content of the data stream of the symbolic link not its target)
    • "Virtual metadata files" like $CatalogFile

ext2, ext3 and ext4

  • For ext2, ext3 and ext4 the MD5 calculation of fls includes:
    • Regular files
    • Directories (contents of the directory entries data stream)
    • Symbolic links (content of the data stream of the symbolic link not its target)
    • "Virtual metadata files/directories" like $OrphanFiles

Output Format

Sleuthkit 4.7.0 was used to create the example below from a sample NTFS MFT file entry:

Body file data:

0|/$BadClus ($FILE_NAME)|8-48-3|r/rr-xr-xr-x|0|0|82|1580550524|1580550524|1580550524|1580550524

Corresponding NTFS MFT entry:

MFT Entry Header Values:
Entry: 8        Sequence: 8
$LogFile Sequence Number: 1069751
Allocated File
Links: 1

Flags: Hidden, System
Owner ID: 0
Security ID: 256  ()
Created:    2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)
File Modified:  2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)
MFT Modified:   2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)
Accessed:   2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)

$FILE_NAME Attribute Values:
Flags: Hidden, System
Name: $BadClus
Parent MFT Entry: 5     Sequence: 5
Allocated Size: 0       Actual Size: 0
Created:    2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)
File Modified:  2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)
MFT Modified:   2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)
Accessed:   2020-02-01 10:48:44.857384500 (CET)

Type: $STANDARD_INFORMATION (16-0)   Name: N/A   Resident   size: 72
Type: $FILE_NAME (48-3)   Name: N/A   Resident   size: 82
Type: $DATA (128-2)   Name: N/A   Resident   size: 0
Type: $DATA (128-1)   Name: $Bad   Non-Resident   size: 7270400  init_size: 0

Behavior of the TSK Metadata Address:

  • 8-128-2 references the $DATA attribute in MFT entry 8, note that this $DATA attribute on-disk is the 3rd attribute in the MFT entry.
  • 8-128-1 references the $DATA attribute in MFT entry 8, note that this $DATA attribute on-disk is the 4th attribute in the MFT entry.
  • 8-48-3 references the first $FILE_NAME attribute in MFT entry 8, note that the $FILE_NAME attribute on-disk is the 2nd attribute in the MFT entry.

Note that due to an issue within The Sleuth Kit, NTFS metadata addresses for $FILE_NAME attributes in an $ATTRIBUTE_LIST are not unique, and it is not deterministic as to what the "first" MFT attribute is. See here.

Also see