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Is your USB drive throwing up a disk write protection error? In this article, we explain what that is and how you can fix it.

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You've finished work for the day. The only thing left to vì chưng is stick the files onto a USB flash drive. Then you get this message: "The disk is write protected. Remove the write protection or use another disk." You immediately pull your hair out. This is your USB stick; you should be able to lớn read, write, and do whatever you want with it!

Okay, you didn't pull your hair out. You stayed nice & calm. But you definitely need lớn get your USB drive fixed. Luckily, there are a few simple steps to lớn fix write protection on a USB drive. It's just technology. You can fix it.

1. Kiểm tra the USB Stick for Viruses

Every time you plug a USB drive into your computer, you should automatically scan it for viruses, especially if you have used it on a computer you don't own or a public computer.

Viruses often fill your USB drive with nonsense files, which can make your USB drive respond with the Write Protected error.

Depending on your antivirus software, you may be able khổng lồ configure it to scan a USB drive when first plugged in automatically. If not, you can navigate lớn the USB drive in Windows Explorer, right-click, & force a manual antivirus scan.


If you vày find a virus, eliminate it using your antivirus software. At this point, I would advise performing a full system scan after updating your virut definitions. If one vi khuẩn lurks on your USB drive, you never know what might be propagating on your main system.

2. Kiểm tra the USB Drive toàn thân

Normally I'd make something this simple the first step. However, I'd rather see you protected from a virus instead of starting with the simpler fixes. Some USB sticks have a mechanical switch on them that puts them into Write Protect mode. This can be a very small slider switch that may have caught on something in your pocket or computer case.


Image Credit: Netac/Amazon
If this is the situation, simply move the switch lớn the unlocked position & copy files again.

Luckily, there aren't a lot of newly manufactured USB sticks with these locks on them anymore.

3. Check to Make Sure the USB Stick Isn't Full

You may see the Write Protected error message if your USB stick is full.

Open Windows Explorer, & browse to This PC. This gives you an overview of all drives connected to your system. Right-click your USB drive và select Properties. You'll be presented with a delightful donut chart (what was wrong with the venerable pie chart, Microsoft?) displaying your current drive capacity.


As you can see, I've got room khổng lồ spare. But if your USB drive is completely full, it can return a Write Protection error message.

4. Remove Individual Files With Write Protection

Sometimes a single tệp tin can upset the balance. Perhaps one file is marked "read-only" và refuses lớn be deleted from the drive. This causes an entirely different error message, but it can be off-putting, nonetheless.

Browse lớn your USB drive, & locate the offending file. Right-click and select Properties. At the bottom of the panel, under Attributes, ensure Read-only is unchecked.


Sometimes single filenames become corrupted. In addition, long filenames are an inherited Windows feature ingrained in the MS-DOS architecture. The long và short of it is that if a filename exceeds 255 characters, you're going lớn have a bad time.

Here we explain exactly how to lớn delete files with long filenames. Check it out, save yourself some bother, and fix your USB flash drive.

5. DiskPart Command Prompt Utility

Are you familiar with the Command Prompt? If you're using Windows 10 or 11, you might also have encountered its close cousins, the PowerShell or Windows Terminal. You can use the following commands in either of these tools, but we'll go with the Windows Terminal today. Don't worry; it really isn't scary, & is the next logical step in our effort to lớn fix your USB stick.

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Hit Windows Key + X, and select Windows Terminal (Admin) from the menu. Type diskpart, and press Enter (1 in the above image). Next, type list disk, and press Enter. You should see a danh sách of currently mounted disks, lượt thích so (2 in the above image). Make sure you can see your USB drive. Mine is Disk 4. Make a note of your disk number. Now enter the following command: select disk Once selected, enter the following command: attributes disk clear readonly

6. Clear Write Protection Error in Windows Registry

If none of the previous steps have solved your Write Protection error, don't worry. We've still got a few more tricks in the book. Next, we're going lớn edit the Windows Registry. If you're not comfortable editing the registry, I understand. You can skip to the next section on how to format your write-protected USB drive. If that step is a little too drastic, however, I'd advise giving this option a try.

Press Windows Key + R to mở cửa the Run dialogue. Type regedit & press Enter. Now, navigate to lớn the following registry location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlStorageDevicePolicies Look for a key named WriteProtect.

If it exists, double-click it. This will mở cửa the Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value box. You can now set one of two values: 0 or 1. 1 means "Yes, write protect my USB storage devices." Conversely, 0 means "No, don't write protect my USB storage devices." mix the value to 0, and then press OK.

But There's Nothing There?

In some cases, there is no "WriteProtection" registry entry. In this instance, we can create a registry key of our own. Check out the short video clip on how to add a WriteProtection registry value below. Cảnh báo that if something goes wrong, you can reset the Windows registry to default.

7. Format the USB Drive

Warning: Make sure that you back up all the files & information from your USB drive khổng lồ your computer. All data will be lost once you format the USB drive.

Formatting the USB stick is a last resort. However, it should make your USB drive able khổng lồ be read and written to. Prior khổng lồ formatting the USB drive, determine what kind of tệp tin system it already has—NTFS or FAT32. Normally the existing tệp tin system is the file system that is best suited for the drive.

Open Windows Explorer, và browse to This PC. This gives you an overview of all drives connected lớn your system. Right-click your USB drive and select Properties.

Close the Properties window. Now, right-click the USB drive again, this time selecting Format. The Format window contains several customizable options, such as the aforementioned tệp tin system, the Allocation unit size, the Volume Label, & the Quick Format option.

Change the Volume label lớn something memorable. As we are dealing with a potential hardware issue, uncheck the Quick Format box. That will force the format to do more than just erase files. For instance, if there is a bad sector on this USB drive, the "full" format will return an error.

Formatting won't take long, but the larger the drive, the longer you'll have lớn wait. Assuming there is no physical problem with the drive, your USB drive will be formatted, cleaned, and ready lớn go.

8. Turn Off BitLocker or Remove Encryption

If you've been using BitLocker, make sure it's turned off before trying to lớn make changes to lớn files on locked partitions or drives.

Open File Explorer, right-click your BitLocker partition or drive & select Manage BitLocker. In the BitLocker Drive Encryption window, pick the afflicted drive, and click Turn off BitLocker. BitLocker will start decryption. When it's done, you can edit và save files without the error message popping up again.

The same applies if you used a third-party tool lớn encrypt or password-protect your USB drive, though the specific steps will depend on the tool you used.

9. But I've Got an SD thẻ

Luckily, the majority of the USB drive Write Protection error fixes listed work with SD cards, too.

Unlike regular USB drives, SD cards still tend lớn come with a physical write protection switch. Ensure this is toggled before you panic.

USB Write Protection Errors, Solved

Sometimes, the problem is simple. Sometimes, the problem is difficult. Hopefully, we've found you a solution in either case. However, if your USB drive issues persist, it could be that something more significant is afoot.

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Regardless, you've got a lot more troubleshooting tools in your arsenal now và should be able khổng lồ get your USB drives working again, potentially saving you a tidy sum of money & the pain of losing all of your files!

Gavin is the công nghệ Explained Section Editor, co-host on the Really Useful Podcast, and a frequent hàng hóa reviewer. He has a degree in Contemporary Writing pillaged from the hills of Devon, & more than a decade of professional writing experience. He enjoys copious amounts of tea, board games, & football.