How to remove write protection from a USB Drive

USB drives are amazing pieces of technology that have been used for nearly twenty years. Like all technology they have their pros and their cons. The biggest two uses of USB drives and probably therefore their two biggest pros are that they are fantastic storage devices as well as being brilliant for transferring files between computers.

An irritating issue that can happen to many people though with USB drives is when they have 'write protection' on. This article will discuss what write protection is and how you can remove it from your USB drive.

What is write protection?

Due to the nature of USB drives they are supplied "as standard" with a security measure which will place a lock on any digital files stored on them. This is better known as write protection. In practice this is a useful measure as it allows to easily prevent modifications of your files happening without your permission. Write protection becomes an issue when it stops you from actually editing your own work though. This problem could be akin to being locked out of your own house.

In most cases a good USB drive will have its own physical way rather than digital method of switching write protection on or off. This will generally be a little switch on the device, but this will not be the same for all USB drives. Before we start looking at any digital measures you can take to remove write protection check that this is an option to you.

How to remove write protection

For a lot of files on USB drives when you try edit a write protection protected file you will get a message saying "Drive can't be written on. Do you want to remove write protection?". If you get this message then obviously just say yes and you have resolved your issue.

However as with a lot of technology it is rarely this simple. Here is a step by step guide for resolving the problem.

  1. Insert the USB drive into a relevant USB port on your computer.
  2. Go to the "My Computer" section and find your USB drive in there.
  3. Try and use one of the files on the drive. If you receive a write protection error when you do this then right click the file and select properties.
  4. Find the general tab in properties and remove the check mark for the box labelled Read-Only. After you have done this click apply and try and use the file again.
  5. Go to your start menu and type run into the search bar.
  6. Type "RegEdit" and press enter.
  7. Navigate to the registry folder in here.
  8. Look for a window labelled Write Protect. If you cannot find this then right click inside the window and select choose "New D Word".
  9. The next step is to type "Write protect" and then press enter.
  10. Double click the entry titled "Write protect" and check to see if the value given in the test box is 0. If it does not say that then delete whatever it is currently set to and change it to 0.
  11. Close the registry editor.
  12. Try use the files on the USB drive now.
  13. If you are still receiving write protection errors go back to the My computer section and reopen the USB drive.


Now you know how to remove write protection from your USB drives you should not have an issue with editing your files again. However remember to leave write protection on for when you are not editing your files so you do not accidentally edit something you want left as it is.

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