How To Remove Write Protection from a USB Drive

Maaz Perwez

We all use USB memory sticks or pen drives or any other USB based memory devices if we want to store or transfer data between two different devices. These USB drives are very convenient in every way. they are easy to connect and use on any computer and are very much easy to carry anywhere around. These USB storage devices have been out for quite a long time, and with time have improved a lot. Now, with USB 3.0 and above the data transfer rates are also improved a lot along with that they also come with different types of security measures as well. Speaking of security, there must be a few times when you might have faced that you aren’t able to copy or paste anything from the USB drive and an error must have popped up saying the USB drive is Write protected.

By now you must have figured out that the failed attempts are because the USB drive is write-protected and before you start using it you need to disable it. In this post, we will be discussing some quick and easy methods through which you will be able to disable the write protection of your USB drive using a Windows PC or a Mac. In addition to that, we have also added a solution for Chromebook users as well.

A Universal solution

Before you start digging in deeper, in order to disable the write protection of your USB device. There are several different USB drives in the market that gives a physical switch on the drive itself, and if you unlock it the write protection gets disabled. This is done for security purposes, along with a handy and easy way to disable and enable the security system of the USB drive. So, make sure to check the drive physically thoroughly, and disable the switch if there is any physical switch present in the USB drive. Usually, it is located at the side of the drive or at the bottom of the drive, once changed the switch position, reinsert the USB drive into your computer, and then try to copy or paste the data.

This would be the very first and basic method through which you can disable the write protection system on your USB drive.

Remove USB Write Protection Using Windows

Removing write protection can be a bit complex as well, which is why we have covered several different methods through which you can disable the write protection on your USB drive. Below you can go through the tutorials for the same.

Turn Off Bitlocker

Microsoft with the launch of Windows 7 has integrated the BitLocker into their OS. Bitlocker is a powerful yet very handy tool for people who encrypts or decrypts their data frequently. With the latest Windows 10 or 11, the BitLocker service is only available for the pro versions of the OS. By default, it is disabled for every drive, but if by any chance it is activated for your USB drive, then it means that your USB drive is encrypted and needs to be decrypted via BitLocker before you can start using it.

  1. First, you need to head to the File Manager and then look for the USB drive which you feel is encrypted. If the USB drive icon has some kind of a lock logo that means it is encrypted or locked using the BitLocker.
  2. You need to right-click on the USB drive icon and then click on Manage BitLocker. This step will take you to the Bitlocker Drive encryption screen, where you will be seeing the list of storage devices and their state of encryption.
  3. Here, you need to navigate to the USB drive and then select Turn off Bitlocker. The state of the USB drive is shown in real-time, and as soon as you disable the Bitlocker for the USB drive, it should show decrypted, and the lock icon in the file manager should also disappear.

Now, that the Bitlocker is disabled, you can start copying or moving your stuff from or to the USB drive without any hassle, once done you can go back to the Bitlocker and encrypt the USB drive again if you want to lock the drive again.

USB Diskpart to Disable Write Protection

Diskpart is an application that runs on the command prompt. It lists out all the storage devices of your computer and it also helps in formating the drives or if you want to change the format of the drive. Not to mention, with the help of Diskpart you can also disable or enable the Write protection of your storage device. below is the tutorial on how to disable the write protection system of your USB drive with the help of Diskpart.

How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive
  1. To begin with, first, you will have to check and remember the storage capacity of the USB drive, if not you can always note it down somewhere. Once noted, plug the USB drive into your computer.
  2. Now, launch Command Prompt by pressing Windows+R and then type cmd inside the text box of the Run window. If in any process you see access denied, then you can simply search cmd inside the start menu and then right-click on it, select Run as administrator.
  3. Once inside the Command prompt, you will have to type the disk part and then press enter. Next, you have to type List Disk and press enter again.
  4. After you hit enter, you will see a table consisting of all of the storage devices attached to your computer, including your system hard disk as well as the USB drive. it should be named Disk 0, Disk 1and Disk 2. Along with the names, you will also see the capacity of each drive, now you will have to identify the USB drive of yours, by matching the storage capacity which you noted down with the storage capacity shown by the disk part.
  5. Once identified, type Select disk # where # should be replaced with the disk number of your USB drive, for instance, if your USB drive is disk 1, then you will have to write select disk 1 and then press enter.
  6. Next, you have to enter another command by typing Attributes disk clear readonly and then press enter. Type it exactly the same way.
  7. Wait for the process to finish, once done simply type Exit and then press enter. This will close the command prompt window.
  8. For a safer side, restart your PC once, and try reinserting the USB drive after you have done the above-mentioned steps.
How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive

Use The Windows Registry To Disable Write Protect

Using windows registry is not everyone’s cup of tea. This process is comparatively a complex one but it gets the job done. Registry edits are directly indulging with the Windows system files, so do not attempt if you don’t know what you are doing or have no experience with the Windows registry editing system. A single wrong input or mistake can cause a serious Windows OS issue. Even then if you are doing it for the first time, then make sure you follow the steps carefully and do not do anything wrong or extra. Follow through with the tutorial to disable the write protection system using the Windows registry.

How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive
  1. Make sure that the USB drive is connected to your computer. Press the start menu and then type Run and press enter. Inside the text box of the Run window type Regedit and press enter.
  2. Inside the registry editor, on the left window pane find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE to expand the directory of that folder.
  3. Similarly, expand the System folder and then do the same for CurrentControlSet. So the final path so far should be HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SYSTEM -> CurrentControlSet.
  4. Expand the Control folder further and then ensure if StorageDevicePolicies is present inside the Control folder. If it’s not there then follow step 5 to manually create it, otherwise you can skip to Step 7.
  5. Now, right-click the Control folder. Select New and choose key. This step will create a new subfolder under control.
  6. Next, you have to rename the newly created folder to StorageDevicePolicies.
  7. Now, right-click on StorageDevoicePolicies, choose New then select DWORD (32-bit) Value. You have to name the new entry WriteProtect without spaces.
  8. On the next part, you will have to double-click on WriteProtect
  9. Finally, click on OK, then close the registry and the registry editor, and at the end restart your computer.
How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive

Once the reboot is completed, check for your USB drive whether you are able to copy and paste it without any write protection issue. the restriction should now be removed for your USB drive as the above method which you just followed removes the write protection on all of your drives, so technically it should fix the issue. Do not edit any registry files on your own without knowledge of actually what you are doing as it may corrupt the Windows Operating system of your computer.

Removing Write Protection on a Mac

Removing the write protection of your USB drive using your mac is fairly an easy process. it doesn’t involve a complex process like a Windows operating system. For mac, you only have two options to choose from, one is for storage drives that cannot be written because of a fault with the device, while on the other hand, the second one involves formatting the drive directly.

Option 1: Repair The Permissions

There must be some irrelevant permission access to your USB drive, or simply a fault in the permissions area of the drive which is causing it to become write-protected. In such cases, you can fi the error by using the Disk utility application of macOS. Below is the tutorial to fix the USB drive with the help of the Disk utility, follow through with it.

How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive
  1. To start with you need to first plug in your USB drive to the computer and then open utilities and then select the Disk utility tool.
  2. inside the disk utility tool, find your USB drive from the left sidebar and then click on it.
  3. Next, you have to click on the First Aid tab, once clicked you need to wait for your computer to finish the scanning of your USB drive, and then click on Repair Disk Permissions.
How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive

If your USB drive has some permissions fault or issue, then after clicking on the repair button, it should fairly fix any such kind of issue with your USB drive.

Option 2: Format The Drive

Another powerful method through which you can save your USB drive is by formatting the drive, although you will lose the data inside the drive, however, on the other side you will still be having your USB drive safe and sound to use again. So, to remove the write protection on a macOS you can simply format the drive.

  1. If you want to format the USB drive on a Mac, first connect the USB drive to your computer and then op[en Disk Utility.
  2. Select the USB drive inside the disk utility and then go to the Erase tab, select the format, option and then you can rename your USB drive if you want to, finally click on Erase, click on confirm on the prompt that appears, which will then start the formatting process, it should not take much time, but it totally depends on the amount of data on the drive and the size of the drive.

As soon as the process of formatting is completed, the write protection of your USB drive should be gone, and the drive should be ready to use with a fresh start. Do note while choosing the format of the drive, note that some of the options are Mac exclusive and won’t work on Windows computers, so if you want to use it on both types of computers then make sure you choose the correct format of your USB drive.

Removing Write Protection on a Chromebook

Chromebooks usually doesn’t have much powerful tool to handle such cases, however, we have a method through which you can fix the write protection issue of your USB drive using a Chromebook. Although the only option is to format the USB drive and you can do so by following the below method.

  1. Head to the Apps section and then click on Files. Alternatively, you can also press Alt+Shift+M from the keyboard to open the files.
  2. Right-click on the USB drive and then choose Format Device.
  3. Now, you need to confirm the action by clicking on OK from the pop-up menu and then you need to wait for the computer to finish the formatting process.
How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive

For now, this is the only method through which you can fix the USB drive write protection issue if you are having a Chromebook. Do note, that formatting the drive would erase all of your data.

Remove Write Protection From a USB on Linux

If you are one of those people who are having a Linux based computer, then this is the one which you are looking for. This is a tutorial to remove the write protection from the USB drive using Linux.

How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive
  1. To begin with, you need to launch the Applications Menu and then locate and click on Terminal or type term in the search bar located at the top of the window. Alternatively, you can also use some hotkeys to launch the terminal directly. For some Linux distros you can use Shift + Ctrl + T” or “Ctrl + Alt + T” launch Terminal.
  2. Further, you need to typer lsblk” and press “enter”, this will give you a list of all the devices that are attached to the computer.
  3. In the end, you have to type sudo hdparm -r0 /dev/sdb and press enter. Once done, you might need to unmount and then remount the USB drive via the terminal with write-protect off.
How To Remove Write Protection From A Usb Drive

To Conclude

These write-protected USB drives are good for security, but sometimes it becomes a pain for ourselves, and removing the write protection can be a big task and is not everyone’s cup of tea. instead, there should be some alternative way in order to protect the USB drive, which isn’t this complicated. Coming to this tutorial, now you have completely learned how to remove the write protection issue of a USB drive be it on a Mac, Windows, Linux or a Chromebook. Following the above methods, you will finally be able to copy, edit or move files from or to the USB drive.

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