How to enable USB Flash Drive Write Protection in Windows
System administrators may want to limit the use of external USB flash drives by making them read only. This can actually be useful in several situations like preventing users from copying local data to the external device, or preventing malicious software from spreading on a computer network using those flash drives (from an infected computer to the Flash drive to other computer systems it is connected to).
The Windows operating system has a Registry setting that can be usedÂ to enable USB write protection on a computer system so that data can be read from devices connected via USB but not written to. It is like a switch that can be enabled to make use of the write protection, or disable it to allow write processes which is the default setting.
Users who experience problems writing to USB devices might want to take a look at this setting as well if they have the proper rights to do so to see if it is the cause for the issue that they are experiencing.
Enable USB Flash Drive Write Protection in Windows
Start by opening the run dialog box with the keyboard shortcut Windows-R. Type regedit, and hit enter on the keyboard. This should open the Windows Registry editor.
Navigate to the following Registry key:
Look at the sub-keys and see if a key named StorageDevicePolicies is listed. If it is skip this paragraph and read the next. If it is not create the key by right-clicking Control and selecting New > Key
See if there is an entry named WriteProtect. It can be created easily if it is not present by right-clicking in the right window and selecting New > Dword (32-bit) Value from the menu. The following values are allowed for this entry:
- 0 - This will allow write processes on USB Flash Drives
- 1 - This will block write processes on USB Flash Drives.
An alternative would be to delete the Registry key WriteProtect completely to enable both read and write processes. A restart or log off is required before the changes take effect.
Group Policy alternative
If you have access to the Group Policy in your version of Windows, it is available in all professional, ultimate and Enterprise editions, then you can make the changes here as well.
- Use Windows-R again to open the run box.
- Type gpedit.msc and hit enter. The Group Policy Editor should come up.
- If the editor opens up, navigate to the following folder: Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Removable Storage Access.
- Here you find removable disks and removable storage which you can both deny write access, execute access and read access.
- To do so double-click the entry and select Enable.
Tip: You find options to disable execute or read access as well there.
Disabling removable disk write access is easy to set up on Windows. You can do so using the Registry, or Group Policy.Advertisement