Article

Regedit or Regedt32?

John Gormly, Contributor
Windows NT-based operating systems include two utilities for editing the registry, Regedit.exe and Regedt32.exe. What's the difference? Read on for the answer.

Windows NT 3.x
Regedit.exe is the registration editor for 16-bit Windows. It is used to modify the Windows registration database. The database is located in the Windows directory as Reg.dat. The database contains information about 16-bit applications, and is used by File Manager for opening and printing files. It is also used by applications that support Object Linking and Embedding (OLE). Reg.dat is used and maintained by Windows on Windows (WOW)and 16-bit Windows applications. The WOW layer resides on top of the Virtual DOS Machine (VDM).

Regedit.exe is a 16-bit application that is included in Windows NT for compatibility with previous 16-bit applications. Regedit provides a method for examining Reg.dat under Windows NT. You can migrate the reg database file to the Windows NT registry during the first logon to an initial installation of Windows NT.

Regedt32.exe is the configuration editor for Windows NT. It is used to modify the Windows NT configuration database, or the Windows NT registry. This editor allows you to view or modify the Windows NT registry. The editor provides views of windows that represent sections of the registry, named hives. Each window displays two sections. On the left side, there are folders that represent registry keys. On the right side,there are the values associated

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with the selected registry key. Regedt32 is a powerful tool. You must use extreme caution when you use it to change registry values. Missing or incorrect values in the registry can make the Windows NT installation unusable.

Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000
Regedit.exe is included with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 primarily for its search capability. You can use Regedit.exe to make changes in the Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 registry, but you cannot use it to view or edit all functions or data types on Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000.

The following limitations exist in the Regedit.exe version that is included with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000:

You cannot set the security for registry keys.

You cannot view, edit or search the value data types REG_EXPAND_SZ and REG_MULTI_SZ. If you try to view a REG_EXPAND_SZ value, Regedit.exe displays it as a binary data type. If you try to edit either of these data types, Regedit.exe saves it as REG_SZ, and the data type no longer performs its intended function.

You cannot save or restore keys as hive files.

Microsoft recommends that you use Regedit.exe only for its search capabilities on a Windows NT 4.0-based or Windows 2000-based computer.

Regedt32.exe is the configuration editor for Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. Regedt32.exe is used to modify the Windows NT configuration database, or the Windows NT registry. This editor allows you to view or modify the Windows NT registry. The editor provides views of windows that represent sections of the registry, named hives. Each window displays two sections. On the left side, there are folders that represent registry keys. On the right side,there are the values associated with the selected registry key. Regedt32 is a powerful tool, and you must use it with extreme caution when you change registry values. Missing or incorrect values in the registry can make the Windows installation unusable.

Note: Unlike Regedit.exe, Regedt32.exe does not support importing and exporting registration entries (.reg) files.

Windows XP and Windows Server 2003
Regedit.exe is the configuration editor for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Regedit.exe is used to modify the Windows NT configuration database, or the Windows NT registry. This editor allows you to view or modify the Windows NT registry. It supports setting security on registry keys, viewing and editing REG_EXPAND_SZ and REG_MULTI_SZ, and saving and restoring hive files. On the left side, there are folders that represent registry keys. On the right side, there are the values associated with the selected registry key. Regedit is a powerful tool. You must use extreme caution when you use it to change registry values. Missing or incorrect values in the registry can make the Windows installation unusable.

In Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, Regedt32.exe is a small program that just runs Regedit.exe.

REFERENCES
For additional information, consult the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 256986 Description of the Microsoft Windows Registry

For additional information on Regedit and Regedt32, see Help for these utilities or Resource Kit Tools Overview Help in the Windows NT Resource Kit.


John Gormly is a regional technology directorfor a leading public accounting firm, a position he has held for the last 15 years. He is responsible for all aspects of technology, including PC support, LAN/WAN infrastructure, telecommunications, project management, training, IT deployments and personnel management.

This article first appeared in myITforum.com, the online destination for IT professionals who manage their corporations' Microsoft Windows systems and is also part of the TechTarget network of industry specific IT web sites. The centerpiece of myITforum.com is a collection of member forums where IT professionals exchange technical tips, share their expertise and download utilities that help them better manage their Windows environments, specifically Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS).


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