If you recently tried to open the Windows Registry Editor and received the message “Registry editing has been disabled by the administrator”, then you are not alone! This error message can appear for several reasons, some with a solution and some with no solution.
Most of the time, you will see this in a corporate environment where the IT staff has locked down the computer by disabling Windows settings and services If this is a policy promoted by the main servers, it can be very difficult or impossible to get around. However, you can still try it!
Another important reason for disabling the registry is malicious viruses. By disabling registry access, a virus can prevent a user from restoring their system.
In this article, I will cover several different methods that you can try to allow access to the registry.
The first method – Group Policy
The first method involves opening the Group Policy Editor in Windows and checking the registry access setting. Unfortunately, the Group Policy Editor is only available in Professional, Ultimate and Pro editions for Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you have a Starter or Home edition, this method will not work.
Step 1. Click Start and type gpedit.msc in the search box.
Step 2. Go to “User Configuration” – “Administrative Templates” – “System”.
Step 3. In the right pane, double-click Deny access to registry editing tools.
Step 4. If the option is set to Enabled, you can change it to Not Configured or Disabled.
Now try running Registry Editor and see if it works. If not, go to Command Prompt (Start, Run, type cmd) and type gpupdate, but only if you are not in a corporate environment. On a corporate network, the gpupdate command will download the settings from the server again, which may simply overwrite the setting to Enabled.
You can try to avoid getting the settings from the server by restarting your computer but disabling the network card so that it cannot communicate with the network. You can also try the entire procedure above while disconnected from the network to ensure that corporate policy does not override local policy.
If you have a home computer, you don’t need to worry about all this, just restart your computer and you can edit the registry again.
The second method – the registry key
Even if you can’t open the GUI Registry Editor, there is a DOS command line tool called REG that lets you edit, update, and manage the registry. Using this command, we can try to add a key that includes the registry. Click Start, type Run and paste the following line into the Run box:
REG add HKCU Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Policies System / v DisableRegistryTools / t REG_DWORD / d 0 / f
Now try opening Registry Editor and see if it’s available. You may need to restart your computer first. Since Windows is running, you may run into problems using this method.
Fortunately, there are ways to edit the registry offline, that is, edit the registry without booting Windows. Another good tech blog has a detailed article on various ways to edit the registry offline, so check to see if the Run command worked. If that doesn’t help, keep reading!
Third method – rename regedit
Sometimes a virus or malware just prevents the EXE file (regedit.exe) from loading the registry. It’s pretty easy to get around because you can simply rename the EXE file to something else like regedit_new.exe and it might load fine.
You can find the regedit executable in the C: Windows directory. Since this folder is a Windows system folder, you won’t be able to just right-click and rename it. You will receive an error stating that you do not have permission from TrustedInstaller.
To rename a file, you will need to change ownership to yourself and then change permissions to take full control. I wrote the entire procedure for changing permissions from TrustedInstaller so that you can delete, rename, or move the file.
Also check to see if regedit was named something else like regedit.com. Some viruses rename the .exe file so that it does not load when you try to run it. In such cases, just rename the file back to regedit.exe and see if it works.
Fourth method – Symantec
Symantec has a really old 2005 file that seems to still work with this registry problem. Some viruses modify shell command registry keys so that every time you run an EXE file, it simply launches a virus. This file will replace these keys with their original default values. Once downloaded, just right-click it and select Install.
When you open the link above, be sure to right-click the link on UnHookExec.inf and select “Save Link As”, otherwise the contents of the file will just be downloaded to your web browser.
The Save As type should already be set to Customization Information, but if it isn’t, change it to that.
There are a few more ways to enable the registry, but I haven’t had any success with any of them, so I don’t mention them here. If you are not working in a corporate environment, the first thing you should do is install antivirus and antivirus software to try to remove any malware that might be causing the problem.
Check out my previous articles that can help you remove viruses and malware:
Best Malware and Spyware Removal Software
Using Windows Defender Offline to Remove Viruses
How to protect your computer from viruses and malware
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave comments. Enjoy!