How to remove write protection from USB drives and memory cards

Write protection always seems to rear it's ugly head at the worst possible moment but fear not, we've put together a handy guide so you can get around it fast.

Write protection being difficult is one of the more frustraiting issues to deal with when you're trying to leave the office for the day. Not being able to move your files over onto a USB stick or drive is the last thing you want to deal with. And you're 100% certain you've got the 'lock' switch in the correct position on the stick, yes?

But just in case this switch is news to you, it is well worth checking that your device has the switch set to 'unlocked'. When set to 'locked' you won't be able to copy any new files on to the memory card or USB stick, and it also stops you from accidentally formatting it. We've all locked our USB without noticing it, don't worry.

You'll still be able to view files which are already stored on the drive, but you can't delete them (they sometimes seem to delete OK, but the next time you check, there they are again!).

But if this isn't the problem, you might still be able to fix things and continue to use your USB flash drive or SD card - we'll explain how.

Unfortunately, in some cases the device may be corrupt or physically broken and no tricks or software will make it work again. The only solution in this case is to buy a new drive.


In any version of Windows from XP onwards, run Regedit.exe.

If you're not sure how to find it, searching 'regedit' in the Start menu will usually show the program at the top of the list.

It's a bit like File Explorer, so use the pane on the left to navigate to the following key:


Note: if you can't find StorageDevicePolicies, see the next step.

Double-click on the WriteProtect value in the right-hand pane. You can now change the Value data from 1 to 0. Then click OK to save the change. Close Regedit and restart your computer. Connect your USB drive again and, with a bit of luck, you should find it is no longer write protected.

You can now continue to use the drive, but it's worth copying off any files you want to keep and then formatting it by right-clicking on it in the list of drives in File Explorer and choosing Format.

If you can’t find StorageDevicePolicies, you can create it by right-clicking in the white space in the 'Control' folder and choosing New -> Key and entering the name StorageDevicePolicies.

Now double-click on the new key (it will show as a folder) and right-click once again in the white space and choose New -> DWORD. Name this WriteProtect and set its value to 0. Click OK, exit Regedit and reboot your computer.

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