How To Connect to a Remote Registry

Use Registry Editor to Access a Registry Remotely, Over Your Network

Screenshot of Registry Editor connecting to a remote registry
Registry Editor with a Remote Connection (Windows 10).

Remotely connecting to another computer's Windows Registry isn't something you'll do regularly, if ever, but Registry Editor does let you do it, assuming a number of things are in order.

Remote registry editing is a much more common task for tech support and IT groups than the average computer user, but there are times when remotely editing a key or value in another computer's registry can really come in handy.

Maybe it's something simple like faking a BSOD on April Fool's Day without ever visiting the other computer, or maybe a task with a bit more value like checking the BIOS version on a PC two floors down.

Regardless of the reason, accessing a registry remotely, over your local network at home or at work, is really simple.

Time Required: Using Registry Editor to connect to a remote computer's registry should only take a a minute or two, assuming the remote computer is working, connected to your network, and is running the necessary service (more on that below).

The steps outlined below will work to connect you to a remote registry in all commonly used versions of Windows, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

How To Connect to a Remote Registry

  1. Open Registry Editor by executing regedit from any command-line interface in Windows.

    See How to Open Registry Editor if you need help.
     
  1. Tap or click File from the menu at the top of the Registry Editor window and then choose Connect Network Registry....
     
  2. In the Enter the object name to select text area on this Select Computer window that you should now see, enter the name of the computer you want to remotely access the registry for.

    Tip: The "name" that's being requested here is the hostname of the other computer, not the name of your computer or the name of the user on the remote one. See How to Find a Hostname in Windows if you're not sure what to enter here.

    Advanced: Most simple networks won't require any changes to the Object Types and Location fields, which should default to Computer and whatever workgroup the computer you're using is a member of. Feel free to adjust these settings if you have a more complex network and the computer you want to make remote registry edits to is a member of a different workgroup or domain.
     
  1. Tap or click the Check Names button after you enter the remote computer's name.

    After several seconds or more, depending on the speed and size of your network and computer, you'll see the remote computer's full path, shown as LOCATION\NAME.

    Tip: If you get a warning that says "An object (Computer) with the following name cannot be found: "NAME".", check that the remote computer is properly connected to the network and that you've entered its hostname correctly.
     
  2. Tap or click the OK button.

    In what will probably only take second or less, Registry Editor will connect to the remote computer's registry. You'll see Computer (your computer), as well as the other computer you're viewing the registry for, under [hostname].

    Tip: If you get an "Unable to connect to [name]." error, you may need to enable the Remote Registry service. See How to Enable the Remote Registry Service in Windows section below for help doing that.
     
  3. Now that you're connected, you can view whatever you like, and make whatever registry edits you need to make. See How to Add, Change, & Delete Registry Keys & Values for some overall help.

    Important: Don't forget to back up any keys that you're making changes to! See How to Back Up the Windows Registry for an easy tutorial on doing this.

    As you're working in whatever remote registry you're connected to, you may notice two things: significantly less registry hives than on your computer, and a number of "Access is denied" messages when navigating around. More on both issues below:

    While your computer probably has at least five individual registry hives, you'll notice immediately that the registry you're connected to remotely only shows HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_USERS.

    The three remaining keys, HKEY_CLASSESS_ROOT, HKEY_CURRENT_USER, and HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG, while not appearing like you may be used to, are all included in various subkeys within the two hives you do see.

    The "Access is denied" messages that you're probably getting on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and various keys under the HKEY_USERS hive are probably due to the fact that you don't have administrator priviledges on the remote computer. Give your account administrator access on the remote computer and then try again.

    How To Enable the Remote Registry Service in Windows

    The RemoteRegistry Windows Service must be enabled on the remote computer you wish to view or edit the registry on.

    Most Windows installations disable this service by default, so don't be surprised if you run in to this problem when you try to access a registry remotely.

    Here's how to enable it:

    1. Open Control Panel on the computer you want to connect to.
       
    2. Once Control Panel is open, choose Administrative Tools, and then Services.
       
    3. Find Remote Registry from the list of service names in the Services program that's now open and then double-click or double-tap on it.
       
    4. From the Startup type drop-down box, choose Manual.

      Tip: Choose Automatic instead of Manual if you want the RemoteRegistry service to run all the time, helpful if you know you'll want to connect to this computer's registry again in the future.
       
    5. Tap or click the Apply button.
       
    6. Tap or click the Start button, followed by the OK button once the service is done starting.
       
    7. Close the Services window, and any Control Panel windows you might still have open.

    Now that the RemoteRegistry service is started on the remote computer you want to edit the registry on, head back to your computer and try connecting again.

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