How do I remove write protection from a USB drive ?

Sometimes a USB stick is write protected. It is not possible to write data to it. It is generally not possible to delete the content or format the USB stick. How do I remove the protection from the USB stick so that I can format the USB drive and use it normally?

If you landed on this article, it is probably that you have encountered a similar problem with for example the display of a message from Windows: “The disc is write-protected“, “Unable to write to the disc, because it is write protected. Remove the write protection from the volume in drive E: ”or“ This disc is write protected. Remove the write protection or use another disc.

This is tutorial will show you how to remove protection from USB stick using different manners.

What is the reason for a USB drive to have write protection ?

A USB drive can have write protection for a few reasons, including:

  • Data security: Write protection can prevent accidental deletion or modification of important files or data that are stored on the USB drive. This can be especially useful for sensitive or confidential information that should not be altered or deleted.
  • Virus protection: Write protection can also prevent viruses or malware from infecting the USB drive by preventing any changes or modifications to the contents of the drive. This can help ensure the integrity and safety of the data on the USB drive.
  • Manufacturing settings: Some USB drives come with write protection enabled by default as a manufacturing setting, and it may be necessary to disable the write protection in order to save or modify files on the drive.
  • Hardware issues: In some cases, a USB drive may be physically damaged or malfunctioning, and write protection may be activated as a result. This can happen if the drive has been subjected to physical shock or electrical damage.

Write protection can be a useful feature for protecting data on a USB drive, but it can also be an obstacle if you need to modify or add files to the drive. If you need to remove write protection from a USB drive, there are several ways to do so, such as using a switch or software tool, or modifying the Windows Registry.

How to remove a write protection from an USB drive ?

The methods and screenshots proposed were carried out under Windows 10. But they are also valid for the other versions of Windows (Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista etc …).

There are different solutions to test to remove the protection of the USB stick, now let’s see which ones.

Unlock a write-protected USB stick using the button

As on another popular storage device, the SD card, there are often on USB sticks (SanDisk, Maxell, Kingston, PNY USB drive, etc.) a small button (also called a switch) which allows write protection or not the USB drive.

This latch allows in a position to lock the USB drive (lock in English) thus making it impossible to copy data to the USB drive or its formatting. In the other position, the USB lock is not activated. It is therefore possible to write data to the USB stick (for example to save certain files) or format it as desired.

The position of this small Lock button, if present on your USB drive, is therefore the first thing to check if you cannot write data to your USB stick. Change the position of the switch and then see if your USB stick is still locked.

Unblock a write-protected USB stick with the registry editor

An effective way to unlock a write-protected USB drive is to modify the Windows 10 registry with the Windows Registry Editor utility, regedit.

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Win + R (or right-click on the Windows 10 Start menu then click on Run) and enter in the Run window: regedit.
  2. Find the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies then search for the WriteProtect entry. Modify the value of the key by putting 0 as the value.
  3. Close regedit then restart your computer to see if your USB drive is now unlocked.

Note: if you cannot find the key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies, go to the next solution! Because if the key does not exist, it cannot be the cause of the problem.

Remove write protection from a USB stick with Windows DiskPart utility

Use the utility integrated into Windows 10 and other versions of Windows, DiskPart. It is a powerful command line disk management utility. Here is the procedure for repairing a write-protected USB drive using Diskpart:

  1. Press Win + R (or right-click on the Windows 10 Start menu then click on Run) and enter in the Run window: diskpart
  2. Type list disk in diskpart to list your disks and locate the number of your USB stick.
  3. Enter in diskpart select disk 1 (where 1 is the number of the USB stick identified in the previous step)
  4. Then type attributes disk clear readonly to remove the read-only attribute.
  5. Check the attributes of your USB drive by typing attributes disk
  6. Type exit to exit the utility.

Your USB storage should now be readable, writable and formattable!


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