[Tutor] Windows Memory Basics

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 17 05:17:01 EDT 2017

On 17/10/17 01:02, Michael C wrote:

> that is, one number, can be truncated and exist in multiple locations like
> this
> double = 12345678
> 123 is at x001
> 45 is at x005
> 678 is at x010

That won't happen, a single variable will always be in a a single

But the representation won't be anything like you suggested. A
single number 12345678(assuming its a decimal integer) will be
stored as 0xbc614e, which is 3 bytes, so it will be part of
a 4byte (assuming a 32bit integer) chunk of storage.
Of course if the program declared the variable to be a long
then the same 3 bytes will be stored within an 8 byte chunk.
And if it was stored as a double floating point value then
the byte representation will be entirely different (and
I don't even know what that would be).

> unless a number can be broken up like that, wouldn't I,
> while use the silly 'increment by one' approach,
> actually luck out and get that value in it's actual position?

Yes, if you know that the decimal number 12345678 is stored
somewhere in memory, you can scan looking for the 3 bytes 0xbc,
0x61,0x4e. And if you also know it was stored in a 32 bit int
you can check for zero before the first byte (or second, or last)
depending on the endian storage system used by your OS).

But you still don't know for sure that you didn't just find a
byte of 0xbc followed by the start of a UTF8 string beginning
with the characters 'aN'...  And there are likely to be several
hits not just one. You need to figure out which are your number
and which are just groups of 3 bytes that happen to look like it.

If you are very clever you can look at the data surrounding
each set of bytes and make a fair guess about ones which
are not likely to be your variable (as above you might look
to see if the following bytes are all viable ascii characters
which might indicate that it was indeed a string and not
your number). But that may still leave several candidates,
and its all fraught with difficulty.

If you do know the data types involved you can read your
memory into a buffer and apply the struct module to
interpret it (possibly in multiple ways) to extract
the values but you must know the nature of what you are
reading to be able to interpret it. ie. you need to know
the types.

Reading the bytes in memory is one thing, and relatively easy.
Interpreting those bytes as actual data is nigh impossible
unless you know in advance what data types you are looking at.

Alan G
Author of the Learn to Program web site
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