Best Free Hex Editor

toggle-button
 

Introduction

If you ever accidentally open an exe program file in a text editor such as Notepad, you will be confronted with a mass of unintelligible garbage on your screen. Worse still if you write the exe file back to disk, the program file would almost certainly be corrupted and would not work.

That's because text editors are designed only to work with text files which are files with extensions such as .txt, .bat, .prg and .html. To view and safely change binary files such as .exe, .com and .dll files you need a hex editor, sometimes called a binary editor. Most average PC users have no need for such a program but techies and gamers find them indispensable.

There are some excellent free hex editors available that range from the small and simple editors to advanced products that are comparable to any commercial product. Hex editors are a software category where personal needs and preferences are so important that it is meaningless to pick a "best product". That of course doesn't stop me stating my own preferences.

 

Rated Products

HxD  

A binary editor with a great interface handles huge files without slowing down


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free
Multiple languages; built in RAM and disk editor, loads only part of file to memory and has a low memory footprint, files are opened instantaneously irrespective of their size, added capability to generate checksums and compare files using them. Hex and Octal modes, features to concatenate, split and shred files.
Changes to file are immediately saved to disk. Therefore, backup your files when editing.
Read full review...

Other Hex Editors

  • Hexplorer has some unique features which make it a powerful editor for images. If you want to open images in a hex editor you should try this out. However, I was unable to increase the font size which made reading difficult.

    Pros: Built-in RAM and disk editor; extra features such as Fourier transform and pixel viewer to facilitate image editing. Can understand common headers like NTFS/FAT headers, BMP headers, etc. Supports macros to perform repetitive tasks.

    Cons: Stores entire opened file in memory. The opening of large files is difficult. Font size is extremely small on higher resolution systems making it nearly impossible to read certain parts.
  • XVI32 Pros: Does not require an installation. Downloaded file runs standalone. Supports scripting to automate repetitive tasks. Supports wildcards in searches.

    Cons: Stores entire file opened in memory. So opening large files is difficult. No undo feature.
  • HexEdit Pros: Does not require installation. Built-in basic RAM, disk editor and calculator.

    Cons: Stores entire opened file in memory. The opening of large files is difficult.
  • Cygnus Free stores entire file opened in memory. So, opening large files is difficult. Viewing help in Windows Vista requires a Vista update. However, the software homepage has all the details. The free version is simply an old version of the paid version. There are no restrictions on available features.

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Editor

This software category is in need of an editor. If you would like to give something back to the freeware community by taking it over, check out this page for more details, or contact us by clicking here.

Back to the top of the article

 

Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
4.07547
Average: 4.1 (53 votes)

Comments

Regarding Hexplorer:
"I was unable to increase the font size which made reading difficult."

You just need to change the font!
To zoom into Hexplorer:
* Open your file.
* Go to View --> Options.
* Change font to "System Fixed Font"!

Information found here:
http://petzforum.proboards.com/thread/52663

Maybe some one can review newer Hex Editors as the one above in the article are more or less old (not developed anymore as it seems).
I found some on wikipedia like the ones below (all seem to be from 2015 or 2014.

Hexinator https://hexinator.com/
Qview: https://github.com/mtivadar/qiew/
wxHexEditor: http://www.wxhexeditor.org/
HTe: http://hte.sourceforge.net/
Hex Editor Neo Free: http://www.hhdsoftware.com/free-hex-editor

I am only a caretaker and this review is in need of an editor. Perhaps you could help us out and bring the article up to date? You can help us by clicking here.

Good Morning!

Anyone know where HxD's 'portable' version can be downloaded? The download link points to a setup file, which is a problem.

Thanks!

Work-a-round:

I extracted the executable and it can be run directly without running the install.

On the first run HxD asks your permission to create an ini file in the directory it was run from. That seems to work fine, with no administrator access required.

HexEdit from mizec.cz and HxD from mh-nexus.de are both useless as forensic or counter-forensic tools since they
do not accumulate multiple search hits into lists of bookmarks and both also have no capability of telling you
what NTFS file a search hit occurred in. Like most free hex editors they are just toys. Download the demo version of
[edited] to see what a hex editor is supposed to do the non-disabled version of which costs $70 per year. The only free ware to match [edited] in capability is HexEdit from www.hexedit.com.

[Moderator's note: Mention of commercial software edited out. Not allowed]