If you’re in a small business, it can be very annoying if you have to go to every computer you need to fix. Instead, if you can remotely connect and fix problems or tweak settings, it makes the job much easier.
While this is less common, there are times when you may need to connect to a different computer in order to change, remove, or add registry keys and values. Obviously, you can connect your remote desktop to your computer and do it, but if you are reading this article, you are not going down that path.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the Windows Remote Registry Service, which allows you to directly connect to the registry hives on another computer using regedit. However, there are a few prerequisites for this to work.
Remote registration requirements
If you’re hoping to connect to a remote computer that you don’t have access to, then you’re out of luck. To use the remote registry, you basically need administrator access to both computers. So this is mostly for convenience and cannot be used to hack someone else’s registry.
Before the remote registry will work, there are several steps you must take:
- The computer you are connecting to must have a username and password. Password cannot be empty.
- Both computers must have remote administration enabled in the firewall.
- The Remote Registry service must be running on both computers.
The first requirement is easy to fulfill. Just add a password to your account if you don’t already have one. The second requirement can be fixed using the command line. To open an Administrator Command Prompt, click Start, type cmd, right-click cmd, and select Run as Administrator.
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Now copy and paste the following command into your command prompt window and press Enter.
netsh firewall set service RemoteAdmin
You will receive a warning message that the command completed successfully, but the netsh firewall command is deprecated. You will receive this message on Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. It is not a problem if it succeeds. Please note that you need to run this command on both machines.
For the third requirement, you need to click the Start button, enter services, and then click only services with two gear icons.
Scroll down until you see Remote Registry and it shouldn’t work by default. It is disabled by default in Windows 10. In Windows 7, you can just right-click it and choose Start. In Windows 10, you need to first right-click and select Properties.
In the properties dialog, you need to change the startup type to something other than Disabled. If you only need to do this once, change it to Manual. If you need to frequently access the remote registry, select “Automatic”.
After selecting the startup type, click the Apply button and the Start button will no longer be grayed out. Click Start to start the Remote Registry Service. Again, this needs to be done on both machines.
Contact Remote Registry Hive
After completing all the above steps, you can try to connect to the remote registry. Click Start, type regedit to open Registry Editor. Then click “File” and then “Connect Network Registry”.
Here you will need to enter 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 “Find”. If the computer you are connecting to has a long name, you need to determine the NETBIOS name for the computer. You can do this by opening a command prompt on that computer and typing nbtstat -n.
After you enter a name and click OK, you will be prompted to enter a username and password for the administrator account on the remote computer.
Please note, if you are connecting to your Windows 10 computer remotely and it is logged in using your Microsoft account, you need to enter the email address for the username and password as usual. Hopefully you can connect to the registry on the remote computer. If you receive any access denied message, it means that you entered your credentials incorrectly.
As you can see above, I connected to the Windows 7 machine using the remote registry from my Windows 10 PC. You will only see HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and HKEY_USERS when connecting to the remote registry. If you have questions or problems, please leave a comment and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!