Connecting to a Remote Registry in Windows 7 and 10

If you’re in a small business environment, having to walk to every computer you need to fix can get really annoying. If you can connect remotely and troubleshoot or adjust settings instead, things become a lot more convenient.

Although less common, sometimes it is necessary to connect to another computer to change, delete, or add registry keys and values. Obviously, you can place the desktop remote on the computer and do it, but if you’re reading this article, you’re not going that way.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the remote registry service in Windows that allows you to connect directly to the registry hives on another computer using regedit. However, for this to work, there are several conditions.

Remote Registry Requirements

If you’re hoping to connect to a remote computer that you don’t have access to, you’re out of luck. To use Remote Registry, you basically need administrative access to both computers. So this is basically for convenience and cannot be used to hack into someone else’s registry.

There are a number of things that need to be in place for remote registration to even work:

  1. The computer you are connecting to must have a username and password. The password cannot be empty.
  2. Both computers must have: Remote management enabled in the firewall.
  3. The Remote Registry service must be running on both computers.

The first requirement is easy to fulfill. Just go and add a password to your account, if it doesn’t already have one. The second requirement can be resolved using the Command Prompt. To open an administrator command prompt, click Get startedtype cmd and right click on cmd and choose Run as administrator

Now copy and paste the following command into the Command Prompt window and press Enter.

netsh firewall set service RemoteAdmin

You will get a warning message that the command was executed successfully, but the netsh firewall command is out of date. You get this message on Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. It’s not a problem as long as it’s completed successfully. Note that you must run this command on both machines.

For the third requirement, you need to click Get startedtype in Services and then click just Services with the two gear icons.

Scroll down until you see Remote Registry and it shouldn’t work by default. On Windows 10, it is disabled by default. In Windows 7, you can just right click on it and choose Get started† On Windows 10 you have to right click and choose Properties first.

In the properties window, you must select the Startup type to something other than Handicapped† If you only need to do this once, change it to Instruction manual† If you often need to access the remote registry, choose: automatically

After selecting the startup type, click the Apply button and then the Get started button is no longer grayed out. Click Get started to start the remote registry service. Again, this must be done on both machines.

Connect to external registry hive

After completing all the steps above, you can try connecting to the remote registry. click on Get startedtype regedit to open the registry editor. Then click File and then click Connect network registry

Here you need to type the NETBIOS name of the computer you want to connect to.

Note that you can quickly search for all computers on the network by clicking Advanced and then click Find now† If the computer you are connecting to has a long name, you must determine the NETBIOS name for the computer. You can do this by opening a command prompt on that computer and typing nbtstat -n

After entering the name and clicking OK, you will be prompted to enter the username and password for an administrator account on the remote computer.

Note that if you’re connecting to a Windows 10 machine remotely and it’s signed in with your Microsoft account, you’ll need to type the username and password email address as usual. You should hopefully connect to the registry on the remote computer. If you get an “Access Denied” message, it means you entered your login information incorrectly.

As you can see above, I connected to a Windows 7 machine using a remote registry from my Windows 10 PC. you will only see HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_USERS when connected to an external registry. If you have any questions or run into any issues, post a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoying!

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