What to Do When USB or Pen drive Disk is Write Protected and Cannot Format?

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Can’t format the USB drive as it is write-protected? Do not worry! Here is a simple guide that describes how to format write protected USB Flash Drives. We all know, with formatting, data loss is inevitable. If you are facing any data loss from USB, you are just 3 steps away from recovering them.

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You may have encountered the error disk is write protected, due to which you cannot format the USB drive. Wondering what this write protected do? Or why is the drive write-protected? Then scroll down below!

What does write-protection on USB mean?

When a USB drive is write protected, you won’t be able to create new files, edit, delete files or format the drives as it will be on read only mode.  Write protection on USB flash drives/ pen drives are used mainly to stop accidental data loss from the device. The function also helps you block viruses that could damage the files on the drive and make sure that data is not accidentally overwritten or deleted.

If you are facing trouble and cannot format the write protected USB, follow the methods described in the next section.

Simple Ways to Format Write Protected USB on Windows 11/10/8

To format the write protected USB, try the simple yet effective solutions explained below. Once the USB is formatted you can perform any functions like creating a new file or edit files saved on the drive.

    1.  Check the physical switch or slider on the USB to remove write protection
    2.  Format write-protected USB drive using Diskpart Command Prompt
    3. Use Registry Edit to format the write protected USB drive

However, once you format the write protected USB drive, all the data present on the drive is deleted. Therefore, make sure you have a back up or recover data from the USB drive before formatting the drive.

Method 1: Unlock the write protection switch on USB

Most USB flash drives come with a physical switch on one of the sides. Verify if there is a lock on the USB and just slide the switch in the opposite direction to unlock the write protection on the pen drive.

What if you have no physical switch on USB? Wondering how to format the write protected USB? Try the next methods to fix the problem: cannot format the write protected USB drive.

Method 2: Use Diskpart command to format the write protected USB

Diskpart is a command line used to clear all write-protection file attributions from the USB and helps you reformat it again.

Note: Make sure you don’t have any important files on the drive as formatting the drive causes data loss.

    1. Press Windows + R to open Run >> type diskpart >> Enter. Now, Diskpart command prompt utility is launched.diskpart command prompt to format write protected USB
    2. Input (type) the following below command and hit Enter after each command.
      • list disk
      • select disk n (Here n refers to the number of your USB drive from the above listed drives.)
      • attributes disk clear readonlyDiskpart commands to remove write protection on USB

By running these commands, your USB attributes will be set to write new content and clear read only mode. Verify if you can format the files from the write protected pen drive now.

Method 3: Use Registry Edit to format the write protected USB drive

Registry edit is the utility that helps you alter the keys to change the attribute of the USB drive.

Note: Make sure you use the right commands. Any wrong steps might risk your USB and cause serious issues. If you lose any data during the process, you can easily recover data from the formatted USB  with the help of an effective SFWare data recovery tool.

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  1. Press Windows + R Key to open Run command or type: Regedit.exe in the search box >> click on run as administrator to open the Registry editor.regedit.exe to remove write protection from USB
  2. Navigate to: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies
  3. In the right-hand pane of Regedit.exe., double-click on the WriteProtect value. Make sure the volume data field is marked as “0
  4. Open it by double clicking on it and changing the Value data from “1” to “0” and click “OK” to save the change.Change value from 1 to 0

Now close Regedit and restart your computer and verify if you format your write protected pen drive. You will see that the write protection is removed and the device is no longer write-protected.


With the help of the above mentioned methods you can easily format the write protected USB drives. As you know, formatting the drive will cost your data as well. Therefore, it is always recommended to have a backup of your files. If you have formatted your important files and folders without any backup, do not worry! You can always rely on SFWare data recovery software to recover data from formatted USB flash drives.


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