How To Format Write Protected USB Flash Drive – 5 Useful Methods

Write protected usb is when you try to copy something and system won’t let you do it. You are trying to save data on your USB flash storage in your windows or linux operating system, but there’s a problem. Any attempt to save displays the message that the usb drive is write protected.

The drive won’t even allow you to reformat it, and there’s no apparent switch for enabling or disabling the hardware write protection. Confused? There are many ways using which you can remove write protection. From all the below mentioned steps, one of of them might work for you. If none of the steps work, chances are your flash drive has gone bad and now it is time to purchase a new one. So, here’s how to format write protected USB flash drive and start using it again.

1. USB Hardware Switch For Write Protection Removal

We’ll start with the simplest issue. Many USB flash drives feature a switch on the outside, usually on the sides, that you may use to turn on or off the write protection. If your USB drive has one, slide it off.

how to format write protected usb flash drive

Change switch direction of your USB drive and check if you can format it this time. If that works, your problem is resolved, and all you need to do is ensure the usb hardware switch does not accidentally get moved in the locked or wrong position again. If there’s no switch (most common), or you still can’t write any data to the USB, you’ll need to employ other methods.

2. Remove USB Write Protection Using Diskpart CMD Tool

Before starting, insert your usb flash drive into your computer’s USB port.
Windows OS has a built-in command-line based disk partition management tool called Diskpart. You can open it by pressing Windows key + R, write cmd, then hitting Enter.
User Access Control will prompt you to confirm the action. Click Yes to continue.

run cmd

You should now see CMD, the command-line tool. At the prompt, enter below commands:

run diskpart


A new command line window will show up with a new DISKPART prompt. It’s time to see which hard disks and flash drives are attached to your PC:

list disk

list disk

The resulting table will list the currently available storage devices. But how to identify your USB drive?
Disk 0 will be your computer’s main system drive. This is the one that Windows is installed on. If you have multiple partitions, these will be sequentially numbered. Note that the size is displayed for each partition.

With a USB flash device connected (which will be Disk 1 or higher), you should be able to identify it by its comparatively low storage capacity.
Therefore, Disk 2 is the USB flash drive. You should be able to check the capacity on the device itself, as this is usually printed on an usb drive’s casing. If not, you’ll be able to confirm it through Windows Explorer file manager.

Read Also: Best USB Flash Drive For 4K Video

Before going further, be certain that you have identified the right USB pen drive. Also, note that USB flash drives can be as high as 1TB in capacity at the time of writing, which could be larger than your computer’s HDD. Making the effort to be completely confident at this point is critical to the integrity of your computer’s data.
Once you are sure, it is time to select the disk. In our example, that means entering:

select disk 2

select disk 2

This will be confirmed with the message that Disk 1 is now the selected disk. Next, request attributes:

attributes disk

Many of different information will be displayed. Check the first line. This is the Current Read-only State of your flash drive. If you unable to write to the disk or reformat it, then Current Read-only State will be set to Yes.

Note that in our example, it is set to No as write protection is disabled on our usb flash drive!
But you can easily remove the write protection from your USB drive. Just type the below command:

attribute clear diskpart

attributes disk clear readonly

If successful, validation of the step will be displayed with the message “Disk attributes cleared successfully.”

You can now format the drive using Diskpart’s clean command. Again, first, ensure you select the right disk:

select disk 1

You can then create and format a partition:

create partition primary
format fs=ntfs

Wait for this step to complete. After completion, you should now have a fully working and formatted USB flash drive.
Check the write-only status of the drive by copying a sample file.

3. Virus that Can Cause Write Protected USB Problem

Infection with a virus can make storage devices such as USB flash drives write-protected or locked. Running professional virus cleaner software to fully remove the virus and unlock the device is the best option to resolve this issue.
Here is a list of recommended virus removal programs for you to try:

  • Avira Antivirus
  • BitDefender
  • Avast Antivirus
  • AVG Antivirus

Install one of the recommended virus cleaners, connect the problematic device to your PC, launch the virus cleaner application, and allow it to scan and remove all write-protection viruses from your USB or pen drive.

4. Remove Write Protection Using Software

In the event of a write protection problem, there is a free tool for formatting your USB drive listed below. This can be used instead of or in addition to Diskpart. If you don’t want to get your hands filthy with the command line, this is a good option.

SD Formatter

Number one on your list should be the SD Formatter tool from the SD Association. Although clearly intended for SD cards, the tool is compatible with all kinds of USB flash drives. After all, a USB flash drive is basically an SD card wired to a universal USB interface.

Tool is quite easy to use. Simply connect the device, select the drive and a formatting option, and click Format.

5. Warranty Claim

If your usb flash drive is write protected and unable to format using any of the above-mentioned methods. Then it is best to claim warranty of your write protected flash drive and get a replacement flash drive. Most of flash drives come with up to 5 years of warranty. If anything happens to your flash drive within warranty period, company will free replace your defective flash drive. Some also offers free data recovery as well.

If the warranty has expired than unfortunately there is not much you can do instead of buying a new one. This is why, always make sure to take backup all of your data in multiple locations or multiple drives. That way your data will be safe even if your flash drive gets write protected or damaged.

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John Stewart

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