Last updated: January 27, 2023
When you try to open a USB flash drive, Windows warns you that this USB stick is write protected ? Impossible to have access to the files and even less to erase their contents.
The most common cause: A write error has changed data in the key's partition table, making it write-protected.
In this case, it is impossible tohave access to the USB key, copy a file to it, or delete a file from it.
Don't panic, nothing is lost yet.
Format a write-protected USB drive
To format a write-protected USB key, simply go through the Windows registry.
To do this, I invite you to follow these few steps:
- Press the Windows key and R at the same time. In the displayed field, type "regedit" and validate.
- Find the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetControlStorageDevicePolicies.
Click on it and look in the right column and change the value of Writeprotect to 0.
- Then click on the OK button to confirm. Finally, quit the registry editor and restart the computer.
Write-protected USB flash drive: alternative solution
There is another solution that allows you to format a write-protected key and which works well under Windows 7,8 and Windows 10. This solution is based on the utility Diskpart of Windows.
Diskpart is a small command line utility that allows disk management. It is integrated into the majority of Windows: Windows 10, Windows 7 and also XP
To use it, please follow the following steps:
- Press Windows Key + R and type "cmd"
- Then type "diskpart".
- Type list disk to obtain the list of disks present and find the number of the USB key by referring to its capacity.
- Select the key by typing "select disk X", where X is the number you found, and validate.
- To remove the read-only attribute, type "attributes disk clear readonly" and validate.
- Finally, type exit and validate to quit the program.
The next time you start your machine, you will be able to open and format your write-protected USB drive.
Remove write protection with a USB format tool
Below are two free tools to format your usb drive in case of write protection error. These can be used in addition to or instead of Diskpart. Useful if you don't like getting your hands dirty with the command line!
HDDGURU is a low-level formatting software, which works on all Windows computers (workstations and servers).
What is low-level formatting? Also called low level format, it allows you to physically initialize a USB key. This type of formatting creates sectors and tracks within the disk. This is an operation which is generally carried out by the manufacturer of the USB key. Low-level formatting is also a method of repairing bad sectors, which eventually render your drive unusable.
You can run this formatting tool on many brands of USB flash drives. This includes major manufacturers such as Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, Fujitsu, IBM, Quantum and Western Digital. Because it is low level, it is ideal for completely erasing USB drives and re-addressing.
To use it, simply connect your USB drive, select the drive and a format option, then click Format.
Download HDD Low-Level Format Tool (Free).
Kingston USB Format Utility
Intended for Windows systems (from Windows 7 to Windows 10), the Kingston Format Utility is ideal for Kingston USB flash devices.
It is only compatible with certain models and only works on the DTHX30/XX series of Kingston USB products. If this matches your key model, go ahead and use it with your eyes closed.
After downloading, run the EXE file and press Browse to select a location (such as Desktop or Documents). Click Unzip, then navigate to the new location and double-click Kingston Format Utility.exe.
This will run the application; all you have to do now is select the device and file system from the drop-down menus. Click Format when ready, then wait. To download :
Kingston Format Utility (Free).
Are you still unable to erase the write protection of your USB flash drive?
If none of the methods you've tried so far have worked, don't lose hope. It's time to take it to the next level and flash your damaged USB drive.
To do this, we invite you to follow the instructions available here: How to Flash and Repair a USB Flash Drive.
At the end of the article, you should have a working USB flash drive. If not, chances are it is faulty. So if the drive is still under warranty, explore your options for manufacturer replacement.