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.
A binary editor with a great interface handles huge files without slowing down
Platforms/Download: Windows (Desktop) |
Version reviewed: n/a
|Our Rating: 4.5/5
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.
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