Enable Write Protection of USB Devices

Enable Write Protection Of USB DevicesYou have probably seen the following scenario in multiple thriller and spy movies. A spy connects an USB stick to a computer to copy data from the computer to the device. Movies do not necessarily reflect reality but there is some truth to this scenario after all. It is indeed possible to connect an USB device to a computer running Windows to copy data from that computer to the removable storage device.

It is sometimes in the best interest of companies, organizations and individuals to protect the data on their computer from being copied this way.

Microsoft has added options to the Windows operating system (more precisely to Windows XP and newer operating systems) to write protect all USB devices that are connected to it. This indicates that it may not always be possible to protect the computer this way for instance if data needs to be written to USB devices regularly.

Write Protection adds another layer of defense to the computer. The system is not fool proof on its own, as it is still possible to copy data, for instance by uploading it to the Internet or a network connection.

Enable Write Protection of  USB devices


You can enable write protection of  USB devices that are connected to the Windows operating system. The settings are configured in the Windows Registry. You can also disable write protection from that USB devices. Here is how to done this.

Open the Windows Registry editor with the shortcut Windows-r, enter regedit into the form and press the return key on the keyboard.

Navigate to the following Registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlStorageDevicePolicies

Please note that you may need to create the key StorageDevicePolicies if it does not exist. Select the key afterwards and right-click into the right window. Select New > Dword (32-bit) Value from the context menu and name the entry Write
Double-click the new entry afterwards and change the value from 0 to 1. A value of 1 disables writing to all connected USB devices. If you want to enable writing again you need to change the value of the key to 0 Protect.

The new setting takes effect immediately. Every user who tries to copy data to USB devices with write protection enabled receives the following notification window.

It reads

Copy File
The disk is write-protected
Remove the write-protection or use another disk.


This way you can disable write protection with a click on a file, and enable it again when you have copied files to the USB device.

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