How to Remove Flash Drive Security

by Marshal M. Rosenthal

USB flash drives are small, convenient storage drives. Place data such as pictures, photos and text on them quickly and efficiently and then carry it to another computer for copying to its hard drive.

A USB flash drive that has security enabled in it must be ‘unlocked” before it can be used, which becomes difficult if the password has been lost. Because the security on the USB flash drive is rudimentary, a number of methods, from built-in software to optional programs, can remove the security so that the drive can be used.

1

Plug the USB connector of the USB flash drive into a USB port on the PC. Right-click on the icon of the USB flash drive when it appears on the desktop of a Windows-based computer. Select “Format” from the pop-up menu. Follow the command prompts in the window that appears to format the USB flash drive. Click “Done” in the confirmation window when it appears. The USB flash drive can now be used because the security has been removed from its storage space. Plug the USB connector of the USB flash drive into a USB port on the Mac. Double-click on the Mac’s Disk Utility program, which comes free with the OS X operating system and is in the “Utilities” folder on the hard drive. Select the icon of the USB flash drive in the left column of the Disk Utility program’s main screen. Select the “Erase” tab at the top of the Disk Utility program’s main screen. Click on the “Format” check box on the right side of the Disk Utility program’s main screen. Select “Fat (32)\" from the drop down menu below the “Format” check box. Click “Format” at the bottom of the Disk Utility program’s main screen. Click “Format”, again, in the confirmation box that appears. Quit the Disk Utility program when the formatting is done. The USB flash drive can now be used because the security has been removed from its storage space.

2

Download a password protection program to the computer’s desktop; for example, the free TrueCrypt password protection program (see the link in Resources). Double-click on the icon of the password protection program when it has fully downloaded. Follow the command prompts to install the program onto the computer’s hard drive. Restart the PC after the installation has been completed. Double-click on the password protection program to launch it. Wait for the password protection program to recognize the USB flash drive and display disc letters for the drives attached to the computer in the left column of its main program screen. Plug the USB connector of the USB flash drive into a USB port on the computer. Wait for a letter to appear in the left column of the password protection program’s main screen. Use the mouse to click once on this letter which represents the USB flash drive. Click on the “Volume” or “Volume Tools” button to open a new window. Click on the “Next” button in the new window. Erase the password in the “Password” column of the new window that appears. Erase the password in the “Confirm password” column. Click on the “Next” button to go to a new screen. Select “Traveler Disk Setup” from the drop down menu below “Tools” at the top of the password protection screen. Click on the “Open Explorer window for mounted volume” check box in the new window that appears. Click the “Create” button at the bottom of the window. Click the “OK” button on the confirmation window when it appears. Quit the password protection program. Drag the icon of the USB flash drive to the Trash or right-click on it and select “Eject” from the pop-up menu. Remove the USB flash drive from the computer’s USB port. Plug the connector of the USB flash drive back into the computer’s USB port. Double-click on the icon of the USB flash drive when it appears on the desktop to open its window now that the security password has been removed.

3

Plug the USB connector of the USB flash drive into a USB port on the PC. Go to “Start” and select “Run” from the pop-up menu. Enter “regedit” into the text column that appears and press the “enter” key to run the registry editor. Press the “Browse” button on the registry editor’s main screen and navigate to the following path on the computer’s hard drive: “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\SYSTEM\\CurrentControlSet\\Control\\StorageDevicePolicies” Click “OK” to close the window. Double-click on the “WriteProtect” text that is in the right column of the registry editor’s main screen. Enter “O” into the “Value Data box” in the window that appears. Click on the “OK” button to close the window. Quit the registry editor program. Restart the PC. Double-click on the icon of the USB flash drive that is on the desktop to open its window and access the files now that the security write protection has been removed.

Tip

  • Don’t enable security on a USB flash drive that you aren’t putting any sensitive information on.

Warning

  • Hardware-encrypted USB flash drives will require the help of the manufacturer in order to be unlocked.

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About the Author

Marshal M. Rosenthal is a technology maven with more than 15 years of editorial experience. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography with a Bachelor of Arts in photographic arts, his editorial work has appeared both domestically as well as internationally in publications such as "Home Theater," "Electronic House," "eGear," "Computer and Video Games" and "Digitrends."

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