When looking for technical help guide or tweak online, some may come across the step or instruction asks user to run Register Editor by using either “Regedit” or “Regedt32”. Both commands also run Registry Editor in Windows operating system, but what’s the differences between Regedit and Regedt32? And which of regedt32 or regedit should one use?

Regedit.exe and Regedt32.exe is two utilities for editing the system registry included in Windows NT-based operating system. Actually if you’re using Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 or later versions of Windows, both Regedit.exe and Regedt32.exe is essentially the same. In Windows OS earlier than Windows 2000, Regedit has few limitations and generally less superior than Regedt32 which has full ACL modification capability on all registry entries and REG_MULTI_SZ registry data type support, while Regedit is mainly used for search. Microsoft has an article that explains the differences between Regedit and Regedt32 in details.

Windows NT 3.x

Regedit.exe is the 16-bit registration editor for 16-bit Windows that is included in Windows NT for compatibility with previous 16-bit applications. 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 theVirtual DOS Machine (VDM). User can migrate the Reg.dat database file to the Windows NT registry during the first logon to aninitial 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 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 theregistry, named hives. Each window displays two sections. On the leftside, there are folders that represent registry keys. On the right side,there are the values associated with the selected registry key. Regedt32 isa powerful tool, and you must use it with extreme caution when you changeregistry values. Missing or incorrect values in the registry can make theWindows installation unusable. However, unlike Regedit.exe, Regedt32.exe does not support importing and exporting registration entries (.reg) files.

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008

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 theWindows installation unusable.

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

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