How to Connect to a Remote Registry

Use Registry Editor to access a registry over your network

What to Know

  • Open Registry Editor. Go to File > Connect Network Registry. In the empty space, type the host name of the computer you want to connect to.
  • Select Check Names to pull up the remote computer's full path in LOCATION\NAME format.
  • Enter your access credentials if prompted to do so. Choose OK to complete the connection.

This article explains how to connect to the remote registry of a computer on your home or office network. It also includes information on how to enable the Remote Registry service in Windows. This information applies to all commonly used versions of Windows, including Windows 11, Windows 10, and others.

How to Connect to a Remote Registry

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

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

  1. Open Registry Editor by executing regedit from any command line interface in Windows, like Command Prompt or the Run dialog box.

  2. Go to File > Connect Network Registry.

  3. Type into the large empty space the name of the computer you want to remotely access the registry for.

    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.

    Most simple networks won't require any change to the Object Types and Locations 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.

  4. Select Check Names.

    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.

    Select Computer window in Registry Editor

    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.

    You might need to enter credentials for a user on the remote computer so that you can verify that you have access to connect to the registry.

  5. Choose OK.

    In what will probably only take seconds, 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].

    If you get an "Unable to connect to [name]." error, you may need to enable the Remote Registry service. See the section below for help doing that.

  6. 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.

Why Am I Seeing an “Access Denied” Message?

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

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 likely due to the fact that you don't have administrator privileges 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 into this problem.

Here's how to enable it:

  1. Open Control Panel on the computer you want to connect to.

  2. Go to Windows Tools (Windows 11) or Administrative Tools, and then Services.

    You can also open Services via the Run dialog box with the services.msc command.

    You won't see this option in Control Panel if you're viewing the items by category. Switch to the other view to see Administrative Tools.

  3. Find Remote Registry from the list and double-click or double-tap it.

  4. From the Startup type drop-down box, choose Manual.

    Remote Registry Properties set to manual in Services

    Choose Automatic instead of Manual if you want the RemoteRegistry service to run all the time, helpful if you know you'll want to do this again in the future.

  5. Choose Apply.

  6. Select Start, followed by OK 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.

Why Would You Edit the Windows Registry Remotely?

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 can 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.

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