How to Format a Write Protected Flash Drive

By Quinten Plummer

Updated September 28, 2017

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Write protection is an invaluable safety feature that prevents data on removable media--such as a flash drive--from being erased, overwritten or altered in any way. While write protection may be very useful, it can also be a bit of a nuisance when you need to remove it. Write protection can be applied by one or more sources--such as the computer's registry or the flash drive itself. Removing the write protection from a flash drive boils down to checking all of the possible sources that might have created the write protection.

Turn off the flash drive's physical write protect feature. This will be a switch on the flash drive. Locate the switch (or slider) that controls the write protection and disengage it.

Ensure that the flash drive isn't set to the \"Read-Only\" mode on your computer. Select the \"Computer\" option in the Windows Start menu, and then right-click on the flash drive's icon. Select the \"Properties\" option from the pop-up menu. If the \"Read Only\" option is checked, then uncheck it.

Remove any manufacturer installed software from your flash drive. Launch the drive's software, locate the removal option, and then uninstall the program. If your flash drive's software doesn't include a removal option, visit the flash drive manufacturer's support page for instructions or a removal tool.

Return to the \"Computer\" menu. Right-click on the flash drive, and then select \"Format\" from the pop-up menu that appears. In the Format menu, deselect the \"Quick Format\" option (if it is selected), then click \"Start.\" Confirm your decision in the warning box that appears.


If you've taken all of the above steps to remove the write protection from your flash drive and you still can't format it, you may need to adjust your computer's removable storage policy:

Type \"regedit\" in the \"Windows Search\" box, and then hit the \"Enter\" key on your keyboard. Open the \"StorageDevicePolicies\" folder--follow the folder chain \"HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control.\" If the \"Write Protect\" data value is set to 1, then the write protection is in place. Click on the \"1\" and change it to \"0.\" Exit the Registry Editor and restart your computer.