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Are there any free tools to compare the Windows registry at point A to point B? I know of a number of commercial tools for this but I'm looking for a free utility. Right now I'm thinking about just exporting the registry before and after I run a utility that changes the version of an engineering tool we use and then diffing .reg files.

But are there any free tools that are made to do this?

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Process Monitor from System Internals (now Microsoft) will do exactly this. It'll even do per-process tracking of registry changes and accesses. It's a big hammer, but it'll get you there. And is free!

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Big Hammer SMASH. Thanks I'll check it out. – 3dinfluence Aug 6 '09 at 19:07
Now if only the sysinternals part of Microsoft's website was working I'd be all set :) – 3dinfluence Aug 6 '09 at 19:09
2 You can even map it as a share (if your firewall allows): \\ – shufler Aug 6 '09 at 19:22
Finally got it. Microsoft's site started working again shortly after I made that comment. Got the information I needed. Turns out all that utility does is change an environment variable. I did the reg export and diff method just to be sure. Process Monitor is pretty slick though. – 3dinfluence Aug 6 '09 at 19:36
I love that tool. It is useful in a dev context as well, if you're beta-testing something a vendor wrote and you need to see where the heck it is stashing files. Among other things. – sysadmin1138 Aug 6 '09 at 19:41

There's also RegMon from SysInternals which is free.

RegMon is a Registry monitoring utility that will show you which applications are accessing your Registry, which keys they are accessing, and the Registry data that they are reading and writing - all in real-time. This advanced utility takes you one step beyond what static Registry tools can do, to let you see and understand exactly how programs use the Registry. With static tools you might be able to see what Registry values and keys changed. With Regmon you'll see how the values and keys changed..

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Just a friendly note that regmon is deprecated and will be removed from the site in September. Process Monitor replaces Regmon and Filemon. – shufler Aug 6 '09 at 19:23
Good to know Shufler, I'll recommend Process Monitor instead. – Hondalex Aug 6 '09 at 19:45

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