How to fix the Disk Is Protected USB Error


Are you getting a disk protection error on your USB drive? We will explain what this is and how to fix it.

Now you’re done with your day. You can now save the files to a USB flash drive. You will then see the message “The disk has been write protected.” You can either remove the write protection or choose another disk. Now, you can pull your hair out. This is your USB stick. You should be able read, write, and do everything you like with it.

You didn’t pull out your hair. You were calm and collected. You must fix your USB drive. There are several simple steps that can be taken to remove write protection from a USB drive. It’s technology. It can be fixed.

1. The USB Stick is for viruses

You should scan your USB drive every time you plug it into your computer. This is especially important if it has been used on a computer that you don’t own, or on a public computer.

Viruses can often infect your USB drive with nonsense data, which can cause your USB drive to respond with the Protected error.

You may be able, depending on the antivirus software you use to scan USB drives automatically. You can force an antivirus scan by right-clicking on the USB drive from Windows Explorer.

If you find a virus in your system, use your antivirus software to remove it. After updating your virus definitions, I recommend running a system scan. You never know what virus might be lurking on your USB drive.

2. The USB Drive Body

I would normally make this the first step. But I prefer to see you protected against viruses than start with the simplest fixes. A few USB sticks come with a mechanical switch that turns them into Write Protect mode. This switch can be as small as a slider and could have caught on your computer or pocket.

Image Credit: Netac/ Amazon

This is a normal situation. Simply move the switch to the locked position and copy files.

These locks are not available on a lot of new USB sticks.

3. Verify that the USB Stick is not full.

If your USB stick is full, you may see the Write Protected message.

Navigate to My Computer in Windows Explorer. This will give you a list of all connected drives to your system. Right-click on your USB drive to open Properties. A delightful donut-chart will be displayed (what’s wrong with Microsoft’s venerable pie chart? Displaying your current drive capacity.

As you can see, there’s plenty of room. However, if the USB drive is full it may return a Write Protection error message.

4. Protect Individual Files with Write Protection

Sometimes, a single file can cause a significant imbalance. One file may be marked “read-only” and refuses deletion from the drive. Although this may not cause an error message, it can still be annoying.

Browse to the USB drive and locate the file in question. Right-click and choose Properties. Scroll to the bottom and make sure Read only is checked.

Sometimes, single filenames can become corrupted. Long filenames are an inherited Windows feature that is ingrained into the MS-DOS architecture. It is a fact that filenames exceeding 255 characters are a sign of trouble.

Saikat Basu has provided instructions on how to delete files that have long filenames. It’s easy to fix your USB flash drive.

5. DiskPart Command Prompt utility

Are you familiar enough with the Command Prompt to help you get started? It’s not scary and it’s the next step in our efforts to fix your USB stick.

Hit Windows Key + X and choose Command Prompt (Admin) . Type diskpart and hit the Enter key (as shown in the image below). Next, type list disk and hit the Enter key. You will see a list showing all the currently mounted disks. (see below image).

You must be able to see your USB drive. My Disk 4 is it. Keep track of your disk number. Enter the following command.

select disk [your disk number]

After you have selected the command, type:

attributes are clear readonly

Any remaining read-only attributes have been deleted from the USB drive.

6. Clear Write Protection Error in Windows Registry

Don’t panic if none of these steps has solved your Write Protection problem. There are still a few tricks that can be used. Next we will edit the Windows Registry. I can help you if you are not comfortable editing the registry. You can skip the next section, which will show you how to format your USB drive that is write protected. This option is worth a shot if you find the first step too daunting.

To open the Run dialog, press Windows Key +R. Type regedit, and hit the Enter key. Navigate to the following registry location.

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Look out for the key WriteProtect.

Double-click the file if it is already there. This will open the Edit DDWORD (32-bit), Valuebox. Now you can choose from either 0 or 1. 1 means “Yes, write protect my USB storage devices.” Conversely, 0 means “No, don’t write protect my USB storage devices.” The value should be 0. Next, press OK.

But there’s nothing?

Sometimes, WriteProtection does not exist. We can create our own registry key in this case. Below is a short video that I made.

(Something went wrong? Reset Windows registry to default.

7. Format the USB Drive

Warning! Make sure you back up all files and information on your USB drive. Once you format your USB drive, all data will be lost.

Formatting the USB stick should be done last resort. It should however make your USB stick readable and able to write to. Before formatting your USB drive, find out what type of file system it has. The best file system for the drive is usually the one that exists.

Navigate to My Computer in Windows Explorer. This will give you a list of all connected drives to your system. Right-click on your USB drive to open Properties.

Close the Properties window. Right-click the USB drive and select Format. You can customize many options in the Format window, including the File system, Allocation unit size and Volume Label.

Change the Volume label to something more memorable. Because we are dealing with potential hardware issues, you should uncheck the Quick Format box. This will make the format do more than simply delete files. The “full” format will return an exception if the USB drive has a bad sector.

Although formatting will not take too long, larger drives may require more time. Your USB drive will be ready for use, provided there are no physical problems.

8. You can turn off BitLocker

BitLocker should be turned off if you are using it to make any changes to files on locked drives or partitions.

Open File Explorer. Right-click on your BitLocker partition/drive and choose Manage BitLocker. Select the drive that is infected and click To turn off BitLocker. BitLocker will begin decryption. Once it is done, you will be able to edit and save files without an error message appearing again.

9. But, I have an SD card

Most of the USB drive Write protection error fixes are compatible with SD cards.

SD cards are more secure than regular USB drives. Make sure this switch is turned before panicking.

USB Write Protection Errors, Solved

Sometimes the problem can be simple. Sometimes the problem can be complex. We hope we can help you in any case. If your USB drive problems persist, there may be something more serious. Third-party software such as TestDisk is able to save the day in these cases.

You have a lot more tools to troubleshoot USB drives now, and you could save a lot of money and avoid losing your data!

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