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I am trying to find a Windows hex viewer/editor that:

  • Can display the binary/hex contents of a file or drive in a format similar to the way WinMerge gives an overview of the differences between each file (i.e., colour where there is 1's[Dec]/not 0's[Hex] and no colour where there is 0's)
  • Allows regex searches of the binary/hex contents of a file or drive, for matches to something like 0+$

  • [Ideally] Portable, i.e., Non install

... and is free. Too much to ask for?

  • Only 1/3 requirements, so I'm posting this as a comment. FAR Manager + HexEditor Plug-in would allow you to have a portable hex viewer and editor. However, it doesn't support colorful file comparison or regex search. – Tymric May 18 '15 at 16:04
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I recommend Notepad++ with the Hex Editor plugin.

It is completely portable, free (gratis), open-source, meets all your requirements, and is high-quality.

Alternatives include:

  1. Hex Editor XVI32, which meets all your requirements (including portability), except it does not have full regex searches. It does have wildcard search, which has its pros and cons when compared to regex.
  2. HXD Hex Editor, which meets all your requirements (including portability), except it does not have regex search (or I was unable to make it work!).

Also, as you discovered, WinMerge does have excellent hex editing capabilities. I recommend the WinMerge2011 fork, as it has significant improvements and bug fixes over the original WinMerge.

If you are looking for a sector editor (to edit raw sectors on a drive), then I recommend Active Disk Editor. It is rather amazing. It will allow you to view raw sectors in a layout similar to the one that WinMerge2011 uses to view files. It includes full-featured regular expression (regex) and wildcard searches, for maximum flexibility. It is gratis (freeware), and is available for both Windows and Linux. Good stuff.

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  • Thanks RockPaperLizard (or should I say Sheldon ;), I will check out Notepad++ and that plugin. Also both WinMerge's (have up until now just used this for file comparisons). However, as I have tried XVI32 & HxD I am wondering if we are on the same page in regards to the 'Mapping' of the data. What I mean by that is a visual overview of where data is (non zero filled sectors) and is not (zero filled). Another example of the desired view would be some Defragmenter programs, and how they show the files that are contiguous/aren't/free space, etc. Is this what you were thinking of when answering? – user66001 May 15 '15 at 2:59
  • Sorry, also, XVI32 doesn't seem to be able to open up a drive, instead of just a file. Does Notepad++ and WinMerge have the same limitation? – user66001 May 15 '15 at 4:00
  • @user66001 Are you perhaps looking for a sector editor? – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket May 15 '15 at 4:57
  • Perhaps RockPaperLizard. I was unaware of the this ¿sub-category? of hex editor until now, but after looking it up the feature sets of this type of program do seem more inline with my purpose. Do you also have some suggestions for these that fit my criteria? – user66001 May 15 '15 at 14:54
  • @user66001 Yes, absolutely. I appended my answer above to include that recommendation as well. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket May 16 '15 at 9:41

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