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One of my most valuable software tools has always been Norton DiskEdit from Norton Utilities/Symantec Systemworks. I have used it for years for so many things, including, but not limited to learning file-systems and data-recovery.

I am now in search of a similar tool that can let me view FAT and NTFS disks at a low and high level under Windows.

Runtime Software has DiskExplorer, but unfortunately, it is limited in a number of ways. Particularly annoying is that it does not really let you view the disk as structured. For example it does not let you see directory entries from a directory that is fragmented like DiskEdit can without first doing a too-exhaustive scan—which doesn’t even work for FAT partitions that have cluster sizes <4KB.

I have tried the other suggestions, but most of them are not going to cut it because they only let you view and edit disk sectors and are not aware of disk structures like directory entries, partition tables, boot sectors, FAT, $Mft, inodes, etc.

Does anyone know of a Windows alternative of a Norton DiskEditor?

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2 Answers 2

According to Wikipedia you have a bunch of options to try. See which one, or which combination suits your needs.

  • HxD - (Freeware) fast and intuitive hex editor (including disk editor and RAM editor) for Win9x/NT and up.
  • Roadkil's Sector Editor - (Freeware) A lightweight sector editor which can also save a specified number of sectors to a file (all functions tested good under Windows XP Pro).
  • HHD Software Hex Editor Neo - (Commercial) Fast and reliable hex editor (including disk editor, process editor and RAM editor) for Windows 2000 and up.
  • Hexprobe Hex Editor - (Commercial) A professional hex editor for Microsoft Windows capable of editing and searching in hard-disk and logical-drives.
  • WinHex - (Commercial) forensic, file recovery, disk cloning, full disk, image and memory editor (extra features when editing FAT, NTFS, CDFS and Linux file systems); runs under Windows NT and higher (older versions can be used under Win9x).
  • T-Software Technologies System Console - (Commercial) Multifunctional system software. Allows to process any part of hard drive, floppy drive, CD/DVD etc, including hidden partitions and unpartitioned space; runs under Windows NT and higher.
  • ICY Hexplorer - (Freeware) Hexplorer doesn't format file content, but it displays it as it is, that is as binary data, allowing you to edit it hexadecimally or like text editor does, so it gives you low level access to each kind of file, providing many tools to operate on data.
  • iBored - (Freeware) cross-platform block oriented disk and file editor with templates system and remote network disk access. Knows several common disk structures such as MBR, GUID partitions, Apple Partition Maps, FAT16, FAT32, UDF, ISO 9660, and a bit of HFS, ext2 and NTFS.
  • R-Tools R-Studio - (Commercial) forensic tool that competes with WinHex. The suite has the editor in addition to a powerful selection of tools. There are multiple 'levels' of features depending on price.
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The problem was (and still is) that most of those just open the disk/image in a simple hex-editor; they don’t actually interpret the bytes as disk structures like boot-records, FATs, and directory entries. –  Synetech Nov 19 at 22:21

Clearly my favorite:

WinHex is in its core a universal hexadecimal editor, particularly helpful in the realm of computer forensics, data recovery, low-level data processing, and IT security. An advanced tool for everyday and emergency use.

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