There are some excellent free hex editors available that range from the small and simple to some advanced products that are the equal of any commercial product. In total I looked at seven products: HexEdit , Cygnus Free , Hxd , Hexplorer  HHD Free , FrHed  and XVI32 . Hex editors (like programming editors) are a software category where personal needs and preferences are so important that it is meaningless to pick a "best" product. Instead I encourage all potential users to test several or all of the products and choose what suits them best. That of course doesn’t stop me stating what I like. For my needs, Hxd is a clear winner. Its first virtue is that it doesn’t need installing. Second, it has a great interface. Third, it handles huge files without slowing down. Then add in unlimited undo, great searching and search/replace capabilities, full support for ANSI, DOS/IBM-ASCII and EBCDIC character plus a dozen other features and you can see why I like it. But it doesn’t stop there. Hxd also works as a RAW disk editor and a full read/write RAM editor. It’s three utilities rolled into one.
This power makes it a dangerous tool in the hands of beginners. It may also give your security software apoplexy, but users skilled enough to use this product will understand this not a concern. Is it perfect? Of course not. To start, it lacks binary file comparison capability and the ability to extract text strings and a built in disassembler would also be nice. There are also a few bugs. However what it does offer is so impressive that it’s hard to believe this fine product is free.
Subscribe to our Windows Secrets Newsletter - It's Free!
Get our unique weekly Newsletter with tips and techniques, how to's and critical updates on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows XP, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google, etc. Join our 480,000 subscribers!
Subscribe and get our monthly bonuses - free!
Want to hack the new Start screen and tiles for your Win8 Device, the new Lock screen, the new tile-based apps, or the automatic notification information? Yes, you can do that. How about running other operating systems inside Windows 8, running Windows 8 on a Mac, or hacking SkyDrive and social media? We'll show you how to do that as well. Get this excerpt and other 5 bonuses if you subscribe now!