Storage devices are getting cheaper and cheaper each year. It is now quite reasonable to have multiple USB devices such as thumb drives. These portable storage devices are convenient for transferring files. USB devices are getting smaller, but they are becoming great at keeping data safe.
Once in a while, you'll encounter annoying errors in using those portable devices. One of which is The disk is write-protected. There are various reasons why you're getting such error message. Causes may stem from system security to device damage.
It creates various headaches. You cannot modify the files on the USB device when it is write-protected. Additionally, you can't even format the storage device. You may be able to access the existing data in it, but that's all you can do.
In this guide, you'll learn how to remove the write-protection from your USB device on Windows 10.
Deal with the Hardware
Some models of thumb drives have a particular physical switch. The switch protects your device from being written by another system. It is a useful feature especially when you're using public or shared computers. Some types of malware spread through USB devices.
Check your USB device if it has a physical switch. The switch might be in the lock position. It is possible that the switch is not working, too. What if the USB is still write-protected? Leave it in the unlocked position and follow the next steps.
Storage Device Policies
You can edit the writable properties of the USB drive in the Registry Editor. Be careful in editing any properties in the Registry Editor as it can severely affect your computer.
To access the Registry Editor, click the Start button and search regedit.
Alternatively, you can right-click the Start button. Then, click Run. You can also press Win logo key + R on your keyboard.
On the Run window, type regedit in the text box.
Once you've opened the Registry Editor, navigate to the following path:
You can check the path in the left side pane. Once on StorageDevicePolicies, double-click the key WriteProtect in the right side pane.
In the WriteProtect window, change the value to 0 in the Value Data then click OK.
Restart your computer and try if you can use your USB device as usual.
If you cannot find StrorageDevicePolicies, you will have to create it. Navigate to the following path:
Once in Control, right-click on it. Click New, then Key. Rename the key StorageDevicePolicies.
After creating the key, right click on any space in the right-hand pane. Click New, then DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Rename the new value to WriteProtect. If you already have WriteProtect, there's no need to create one. Double-click on it then changes the value to zero (0).
You could use the command prompt if the steps above did not work. Diskpart can be used to clean up the USB attributes.
First, open the Command Prompt as an Administrator. Search command in the search box in the Start menu. Right-click on the Command Prompt then click Run as Administrator.
Alternatively, you can also right-click on the Start menu. Choose Command Prompt (admin).
On the Command Prompt, type diskpart. On diskpart, type list disk.
You will see a list of the currently connected storage devices. At this point, you have to identify which one is your USB storage. Typically, you can check the size of the correct disk.
Select your USB device by typing select disk [disk #]. Replace the [disk #] with your USB device number.
Clear the attributes by typing the following: attributes disk clear readonly.
Close the Command Prompt. Un-plug then replug your USB device. Check if you can transfer files.
Try formatting the device at the command prompt if you still can't save files on the device. Take note that formatting a device WILL ERASE all the data collected in it. Make sure that there are no necessary files stored.
Follow the previous steps until select disk [disk #]. Then type clean. Now, you will create a partition by typing create partition primary. Finally, reformat the USB device by entering format fs=ntfs. Wait for the device to be reformatted.
You can use a third-party application if you are not comfortable using the Command Prompt. Again, remember that formatting a device will delete all the data in it. There are several free tools you can download.
EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition
EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition is one of the most feature-rich applications around. Its interface is clear and straightforward. Also, the changes will not be applied to your device until you are ready to execute it. It means there will be fewer chances of mistakes.
You can immediately see your USB device after plugging it. Aside from formatting, you can defrag, create and merge partitions, and even copy Windows on a different hard drive. Take note that some features are available only in the paid version.
You can use GParted if you want a lightweight solution. It has a minimalist interface, unlike other tools. It is a powerful tool that can format storage into different format types. More importantly, it can run on another USB device. That means you don't have to install it on your machine.
It is also available on most Linux operating systems if you are using one. You can queue actions efficiently. You won't need to reboot your computer when the effects are applied. It means the processes are much quicker.
Storage devices can be volatile at times. A lot of things can cause errors and difficulties in keeping it usable. Remember that the steps above will work on a case-to-case basis.
Your device might be damaged if the steps above did not work. Consider purchasing a new storage device instead as they are now affordable. Bring the device to an expert if you need to recover any necessary files.