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How to disable write protection from a USB flash drive?

ByMatthieu Andre 2019-03-29 75441

Are you experiencing an USB flash drive protected? A write problem on a USB flash drive can make it write-protected, but it doesn’t really mean that is necessarily damaged. As it became a major concern for users, let’s have a close look about write protection first before explaining four typical ways to disable write protection.

1. What is write protection on a USB flash drive?

Above all, write protection (also called read-only) can be physical or virtual. A write-protected USB flash drive has the ability to prevent the writing of new files or the modification of old files. In other words, you can only read the data that is already stored on the USB flash drive. By meaning so, your data won’t be overwritten, modify or accidentally deleted. Nevertheless, USB flash drive write protection issue has become an usual problem of users during the connectivity of devices as for example laptops. So, let’s have a close look how to remove the write protection from USB flash drive.

2. How to remove the write protection from USB flash drive?

If you are experiencing an issue when attempting to copy or delete files on a USB flash drive, there are different solutions to remove the write protection from USB flash drive with a few simple steps as shown below. Even if your system is Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, this will give you the capability to modify, copy, or delete any files from your USB flash drive.

Check the write protect switch

Some USB flash drives have a physical switch that allows you to lock or unlock the write protection. But the location of this switch on a USB flash drive may differ due to its design. Make sure the switch is slid to the unlock position because you will not be able to transfer files to the USB flash drive if it is locked. Nevertheless, if the write protect switch on your USB flash drive is disabled, but you still receive this error message, or if there is no switch on your USB flash drive, proceed to the next method.

Check the write protect switch 

Use the command prompt to clear attributes

If the first method didn’t work, you will need to use the command prompt method to remove the write protection. By doing so, you will need to run cmd.exe and if you are not able to, you will need to run it as an administrator on your Windows system. A powerful command tool so-called Diskpart will be listed on your screen interface and unlock your protected USB flash drive. 


In some cases, a new USB drive with RAW format can also get read only error which can't be removed by Diskpart. Typically, it may be affected by inappropriate partition format. In that case, you need to reformat the drive with another file system that can be recognized by Windows. If you want to use the command prompt to clear attributes, please follow steps below:

Step 1. Launch a command prompt using the Windows and R keys, typing "cmd" and tap OK.


Step 2. Type "Diskpart" and confirm.


Step 3. Type "List disk".

Step 4. Validate with the Enter key to obtain the list of disks present.

Step 5. Look for the number of the USB key by locating to its capacity.

Step 6. Select the key by typing "Select disk X" and validate.

Step 7. To remove the read-only attribute, type "Attributes disk clear readonly" and validate.

Attributes disk clear readonly 

Step 8. Type "Attributes disk", then validate to check the result of the operation.

Step 9. Type "Exit" and confirm to quit the program.

Once you exit, re-plug your USB flash drive to check if the write protection error is resolved. If not, please try the next step. 

Edit the registry

In some cases, Windows prohibits writing to a USB flash drive because its registry contains a specific modification. As for example, when you try to copy or delete files, you get a "Delete write protection or use another disk" error message and you will not be able to format it. Though USB flash drives are mostly a common problem when using devices,  please follow steps below if you want to remove write protection.

Step 1. Open the Start menu.

Step 2. Tap Run.

Step 3. Type "Regedit" and press Enter to open the registry editor.

Step 4. Go to the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Control \ StorageDevicePolicies.

registry editor 

Step 5. Double click the WriteProtect key in the right panel and set the value to 0.

set the value to 0 

Step 6. Press OK.

Step 7. Exit the Registry.

Step 8. Reboot your computer, and then re-connect your USB drive to your computer.

Nevertheless, if you are not able to solve your write protection after you reboot and re-connect your USB key, please follow next method.

Format your key

If previous solutions didn't work, it is necessary to reformat the key but the program of formatting Windows takes into account the write protection. Some manufacturers of USB drives offer formatting programs but it is recommended you try and download the one proposed by your official manufacturer as listed here.


Nevertheless, make sure there is no other USB drive connected to your computer before you start the program. A message will display between "Format" and "Restore" options. By doing so, you will be able to execute a formatting test and, if the operation fails, you can use the restore option. Once the write function is operational again, that is advised to reformat the key.  Please follow steps below to format your key:

Step 1. In the Windows File Explorer, right-click the key icon under the "Computer" icon.

Step 2. Choose "Format" from the pop-up menu.


Step 3. Check the "Quick Format" box.

Step 4. Choose the file system (Fat32, exFat or NTFS) from the drop-down list.

Choose the file system 

Step 5. Click on the "Start" button to start formatting.

start formatting 

Wrap up

To conclude, if you are attempting to copy or modify files to your USB flash drive, a write protect may occur and lead to some issues. Among four solutions listed, user's will format their USB flash drives first as the method is simple before restoring their data. This will give the capability to modify and copy files. In parallel, that is recommended you check if your USB flash drive is unlock. Indeed, you won't be able to transfer files if it is lock.


However, in case you still receive error message and you are not able to solve write protection, you can use last few methods which are the use of command prompt and edit the registry. A specific modification will be due by reformatting and clearing promptly your USB key.


 You may also want to read:
 What is OTG (USB on-the-go)?
 Philips car charger review: a cigarette lighter with dual USB ports and safe charging for just $12.99
 M1 mini 1080P HD USB charger spy camera review: a multifunctional gadget under $20


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