How to Remove Write Protection from a USB
USB memory sticks and similartransferable data storage devices are very convenient if you want to have yourphotos, media, or work files ready to go. It’s been quite some time since thesestorage devices have become the most prevalent method of storing digital data.However, sometimes it might so happen that you can’t transfer your files onto aUSB because write protection has been activated.
This can be a real speed bump,especially when you need to bring some of your work along in a hurry. Luckily,there are quick and easy methods to solve the write protection issue, whetheryou’re on a Windows PC or a Mac. There’s even a solution if you’re working on aChromebook.
A Universal Solution
Before we go into details about writeprotection removal in different operating systems, there’s one thing to checkfirst. Some data storage units have a physical switch for toggling writeprotection on or off.
Take the USB or SD card you’ve tried towrite to and look for that switch – usually, it’ll be located on the side andmight even be labeled as Lock or Write protection. Switch it to the otherposition and try to transfer data to the memory stick again.
If that works, your problem is solvedand all you need to do is make sure the switch doesn’t accidentally get in thewrong position again. If there’s no switch, or you still can’t write on theUSB, you’ll need to employ the other methods we’ll describe here.
Remove Write Protection onWindows
There are several ways you can removewrite protection from a USB or an SD card if you have a Windows PC. Let’s takea look at some of them now.
Check the Drive’s Properties
A possible solution could be to changethe write permissions set for the drive. To do this, find your removable devicein File Explorer, right-click it, and hit Properties. Under the Security tab,you’ll see the Group or user names box. Select Everyone in the box and clickEdit. In the Permissions for Everyone box, check Allow for every item listed.
If all of the permissions are alreadyset to Allow, the problem lies elsewhere. If you had to set them manually afteryou click Apply, the issue might be resolved.
Turn Off Bitlocker
Ever since Windows 7, BitLocker has beenintegrated into the OS to protect your data with encryption. This feature isn’tturned on by default, but it might be the case that you’ve enabled BitLockerbefore and forgot about it or that someone else did it.
Open File Explorer and look for thestorage device you have in mind. If the icon has a padlock, BitLocker has beenenabled for the device. Right-click on the icon and go to Manage BitLocker.This will take you to the BitLocker Drive Encryption window, where you’ll see alist of all storage units and their encryption status. All you need to do nowis click on the protected drive and select Turn Off BitLocker. The status willshow that the drive is being decrypted and, once that’s done, that BitLocker isoff.
After you’ve turned BitLocker off, tryto copy something on the USB and see if this has solved the problem.
Diskpart is a command tool that lets youmanage all storage units that are detected by the computer. To remove writeprotection using Diskpart, follow these steps:
- First of all, check and remember, or write down, the storage capacity of the USB. This will come in handy soon. After you’ve checked this, plug the USB into the computer.
- Launch Command Prompt. You can do this either by pressing Windows key+R and typing CMD or by searching for Command Prompt from the Start menu. If you see the Access is denied message, right-click on Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator.
- In Command Prompt, type Diskpart and hit Enter. Then, type List disk and press Enter again.
- You’ll see a list of all memory storage disks, named Disk 0, Disk 1, and so on. This is when you’ll need the capacity information to recognize which one’s your USB. Compare it to the Size column and you’ll find out the disk number.
- Type Select disk, followed by the USB disk number. For example, if your USB was Disk 1, type Select disk 1, then hit Enter.
- Type Attributes disk clear readonly, and press Enter.
- Finally, wait for the write protection removal to finish, type Exit, hit Enter, and you’ll exit Command Prompt. Restart your PC and try writing on the USB again after the system has rebooted.
Use the Registry
If you’re not an experienced user, goinginto the Registry is not recommended. A wrong input here could seriously affectyour system performance or even render it unresponsive. Don’t worry, though.Even if you’re not familiar with the under-the-hood features, if you follow ourmethod very carefully, you’ll be able to remove the write protection. Just makesure not to take any action other than what’s described in the following steps.
- Connect the removable storage device to your PC, open the Run dialog (Windows key+R), and type regedit. This will take you to the Registry.
- Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE in the left sidebar and click on the arrow to expand it.
- Find SYSTEM, expand it, then do the same for CurrentControlSet. The complete path so far should be HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>SYSTEM>CurrentControlSet.
- Expand the Control folder and find StorageDevicePolicies. If you don’t see that folder, don’t be alarmed – just continue to the next steps to create it yourself.
- To create StorageDevicePolicies and all the registry entries you’ll need, right-click on the Control folder. Go to New, and choose Key. This will create a new subfolder under Control. Name it StorageDevicePolicies.
- Now, right-click on StorageDevicePolicies, go to New, and hit DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new entry WriteProtect.
- Double-click WriteProtect and change the Value Data to 0 and Base to Decimal.
- Click OK, exit the Registry, and restart the computer.
After the reboot, check if the USBis now operating as it should. This method will disable write protection on allyour drives, so it should be effective in making your USB writable again.Beware that editing the Registry on your own can mess up your computer, soafter you’ve followed our instructions it’s best not to visit it again.
Remove Write Protection onMac
There’s much less flexibility when itcomes to resolving the write protection issue on Mac than on Windows. In fact,you’ll only have two options available – one is intended for storage units thatcan’t be written on due to a fault with the unit itself, while the otherinvolves formatting the drive.
Repair the Permissions
The permissions for your USB drive mightbe faulty, causing it to be write-protected. If that’s the case, you should tryfixing the error using Disk Utility. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- After plugging in your USB, open Utilities and go to Disk Utility.
- Find the drive you’d like to repair in the left sidebar and select it.
- Click on the First Aid tab, wait for any scans to finish, and hit Repair Disk Permissions.
If the fault was in the permissions,doing this will remove the write protection from the removable drive.
Format the Drive
One sure way to remove the writeprotection on Mac is to format the drive. Beware that this will erase all dataon it, so make sure to copy any important files to another location beforeproceeding.
To format the USB, find the drive inDisk Utility, click on it, then go to the Erase tab. Select the format, renamethe drive if you want to, and hit Erase. Confirm the action in the pop-upwindow and the process will start.
Once the drive has been formatted, thewrite protection should be gone. When choosing a format, note that some of theoptions are Mac-exclusive, while others, like exFat, can be universally usedwith both Mac and Windows computers.
Remove Write Protection onChromebook
If you’re using a USB with yourChromebook and suspect it’s write-protected, the only action you can take is toformat the drive. You can do this by following these steps:
- Go to Apps and click Files. Alternatively, press Alt+Shift+M on the keyboard.
- Right-click on the drive and choose Format Device.
- Confirm the action by clicking OK in the pop-up prompt and wait for the process to finish.
Unfortunately, this is the only reliablemethod to remove write protection from a USB on Chromebook. As previouslystated, formatting the drive will erase all data on it, so make sure to back itup beforehand.
Able to Write Again
Write protection can be a nuisance,especially when you don’t know how it came to be on your storage device.Luckily, now that you’ve learned how to remove write protection from a USB onyour Windows, Mac, or Chromebook computer, the issue will no longer catch youoff-guard. With all the methods we’ve explained here, you’ll be able to edit,copy, move, or delete files on your USB or SD card in no time.
Did you encounter the write protectionissue on your computer? What method did you use to remove it? Tell us in thecomments section below.