I have a running memory dump saved as a raw binary file. This isn't a standalone executable - it's literally just a snapshot of running memory.

I'm looking for a tool that will help me identify assembly instructions within this binary file. Does such a tool exist?

I know you can use OllyDebug or IDAPRO to analyze executables. However, since this is a full memory dump, it'a not clear to me whether these tools are still applicable. For a raw memory dump there isn't a clear entry point that IDA can start with.

Any suggestions would be very helpful. Thanks!

  • 2
    I'd prob start off with something like volatility to analyze the memory dump and isolate the sections of it which may justify deeper analysis.
    – broadway
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 1:44
  • 4
    How did you get this snapshot ? Which OS is it from? What is its size ?
    – w s
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 5:24
  • Is it a memory dump of a process (virtual memory, user mode) or of the whole PC (physical memory, kernel dump)? Commented May 22, 2015 at 18:26
  • Is there anything specific you can tell us about the architecture whose opcodes you are expecting in the memory dump?
    – user1743
    Commented May 25, 2015 at 9:21
  • 1
    If I understand question correctly, very likely it is (almost) impossible, because running application modifies its registers, so you need to know at least EIP, but other values is very likely controls execution flow. So you would better attach something like WinDbg to running process instead of creating memory dump.
    – ST3
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 14:36

2 Answers 2



You can disassemble in WinDbg at any memory address, e.g.

0:067> db 000007fe`ff4d0000
000007fe`ff4d0000  4d 5a 90 00 03 00 00 00-04 00 00 00 ff ff 00 00  MZ..............
000007fe`ff4d0010  b8 00 00 00 00 00 00 00-40 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ........@.......
000007fe`ff4d0020  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  ................
000007fe`ff4d0030  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00-00 00 00 00 e0 00 00 00  ................
000007fe`ff4d0040  0e 1f ba 0e 00 b4 09 cd-21 b8 01 4c cd 21 54 68  ........!..L.!Th
000007fe`ff4d0050  69 73 20 70 72 6f 67 72-61 6d 20 63 61 6e 6e 6f  is program canno
000007fe`ff4d0060  74 20 62 65 20 72 75 6e-20 69 6e 20 44 4f 53 20  t be run in DOS 
000007fe`ff4d0070  6d 6f 64 65 2e 0d 0d 0a-24 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  mode....$.......

0:067> u 000007fe`ff4d0000 L1
advapi32!WmipBuildReceiveNotification <PERF> (advapi32+0x0):
000007fe`ff4d0000 4d5a            pop     r10

But as you can see, this is more or less useless (in my example useless to disassemble the MZ magic bytes of a DLL's header).

So, finding the right starting place for a disassembly is the critical part.

Finding code as part of DLLs

Code should mainly be in DLLs or EXEs (called images or modules in WinDbg). To find them in a memory dump (kernel or user mode), you can run the WinDbg command


From WinDbg help:

The .imgscan command scans virtual memory for image headers.

The .imgscan command displays any image headers that it finds and the header type. Header types include Portable Executable (PE) headers and Microsoft MS-DOS MZ headers.

I was able to verify this in user mode, but with the only Windows XP kernel mode dump I currently have, it does not output anything.

Example output from a user mode dump:

MZ at 000007fe`ff4d0000, prot 00000004, type 00020000 - size db000
  Name: ADVAPI32.dll

So all the necessary information to get the DLL is available. In case of a user mode dump I have used

.writemem <FileName> <Range>

to write the DLL to disk and analyze later.

<Range> is according the address and range syntax, e.g.

.writemem advapi32.dll 000007fe`ff4d0000 Ldb000

This probably won't work for kernel mode dumps because parts of the module may have been swapped to disk, so the DLL in memory is no longer complete.

This approach will also not find code that was generated on the fly.

Finding potentially executable code

Code that can be executed must reside in a memory block that has the executable flag set.

Unfortunately the command

!address -f:<filter>

is broken in WinDbg 6.2.9200. It should work in user mode dumps and output a list of start and end addresses that are executable.

At the moment I only get

0:067> !address -f:PAGE_EXECUTE

        BaseAddress      EndAddress+1        RegionSize     Type       State                 Protect             Usage

0:067> !address -f:PAGE_EXECUTE_READ
Invalid filter arguments. Type !address -? to get the list of supported parameters
0:067> !address -f:PAGE_EXECUTE_READWRITE
Invalid filter arguments. Type !address -? to get the list of supported parameters
0:067> !address -f:PAGE_EXECUTE_WRITECOPY
Invalid filter arguments. Type !address -? to get the list of supported parameters

Although I have a full memory dump

0:067> .dumpdebug
Flags           40002
                0002 MiniDumpWithFullMemory
                40000 MiniDumpWithTokenInformation

But you get the idea and might be able to apply it to other tools.

  • Many thanks! as that doesnt matter, i will remove comment so here will be clean up.
    – T.Todua
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 15:38

If you know the processor type and if its little or big endian you can search for common opcodes used in functions.

for example in x86 its common to see:

push    ebp
mov     ebp, esp
add     esp ...

which is 55 8B EC 83 C4 in binary and then search for it in the dump.

If you'll find areas which contain your opcodes in high density its probably code.

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