How to enable or disable write protection in USB stick on Windows 10 or Windows 11

How to enable or disable write protection in USB stick on Windows

There are two common methods to enable or disable USB write protection on Windows. Here they are:

  • The first method is through the Windows Registry.
  • If you're using the Pro or Enterprise edition, you can also make use of the Group Policy.

Data is vulnerable. Accidental loss, corruptions, or even unauthorized accesses, makes keeping your data protected a priority. And that’s where write protection comes in. It’s a feature that stops anyone from writing, modifying or wiping out the data on your device.

In this article, we dive deep into how you can enable write protection on your USB stick. Let’s get started.

Enable or Disable write protection in a USB stick using the Registry

So, there are two broad ways of going about this. Firstly, in some USB drives, there’s a switch you can flip—you flip that and the write protection will be enabled. If your USB stick has this, then that's great, as that's the easiest way to enable write protection; go with this first if you’ve the option to.

The second popular method is to use the software in your PC. One of the easiest ways to do that is through the Registry Editor. Before you do that, though, make sure you’ve your Windows files backed up. This is to protect your Windows data in case something goes south during the registry editing process.

  1. Open the Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + R.
  2. There, type in “regedit,” and click on OK to open the registry.
  3. Now head to the following path:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
  4. From there, right-click on the Control (folder) key, select New, and click on Key.
  5. Now, name the new folder as StorageDevicePolicies, and press Enter.
  6. In the new folder, right-click on the blank space in the right, and select New.
  7. Choose DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  8. Rename the file WriteProtect and click Enter.
  9. Also, change the value data in DWORD value from 0 to 1.
  10. Now close the Registry to complete the task.

windows registry

As soon as you do this, write protection will be enabled on your USB stick. You can disable it easily as well. All you’ve to do is revert the changes to the DWORD value in step 9 to 0. Do this and your settings will get altered. You can check it by trying to copy something to your USB; you'll be met with a message like this:

write protected usb

Enable or Disable USB write protection using the Group Policy

The Group Policy is a Windows feature that contains a variety of configuration settings that lets you control the apps, accounts, and your Windows itself. If you cannot or don’t want to fiddle with the Registry, then Group Policy is your next option to enable write protection on your USB.

There’s only one caveat, though. You need to have been running the Pro, Enterprise, or Education versions of Windows to use this feature. So, if you’ve got that covered, here’s how you can enable the Group Policy:

  1. In the Run dialog box, type in “gpedit.msc,” and hit Enter.
  2. Then head to the following path and hit Enter:
    Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Removable Storage Access
  3. From the right side, double-click on the Removable Disks: Deny write access.
  4. In the top-left corner, click on the Enabled option to enable the policy.
  5. Click on Apply > OK.

deny write access dialog box

Close the Group Policy and give your PC a quick restart. Your write protection settings will be enabled on the next boot. Again, just like with the Registry above, to disable the write protection, all you’ve to do is select the Disabled radio box from the Removable Disks dialog box, and the write protection will be removed.

Enabling and disabling write protection in USB sticks on Windows

By enabling the write protection in your USB drive, you not only protect yourself from accidental deletion, but also save yourself from unauthorized operations on your data. But write protection is only one piece of tightening up your Windows security. There’s a lot of other stuff you can do to make your PC more secure—starting with tweaking your Windows privacy settings.

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