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The fact that you're trying to format the device tells me that it's not a file system permissions issue. Formatting should just work.

I have a Kingston 8 GB thumb drive. How can I remove the write protect on this drive? I've tried to format it, but nothing works.

In this excerpt from Answercast #51, I look at write-protect switches on USB drives and what it means if the switch doesn't work.

Look for the switch

Ultimately, if the drive does not have a physical switch on it... ( and you haven't indicated specifically what format it is - if it's just a USB drive, there should be an obvious switch on it, if it is something that you can control.)

If there's a write-protect switch on the device, you would physically switch it. To be write protected, you'd simply switch it the other way.

Hardware breaks

Now, that being said, a lot of people are encountering the situation where they have a thumb drive that does not have a switch and it suddenly shows up as being write protected.

In that case, I believe the only option you really have is to replace the thumb drive. If the device doesn't have a write-protect switch, there's no way to un-write protect it. There's something wrong in the device.

Either it's worn out or something has broken internal to it. The fact that you're trying to format the device tells me that it's obviously not something like a file system permissions issue. Formatting should just work.

Try a different computer

Now, before you throw away all hope, I would of course suggest you take this thumb drive to a different machine and see if you can format it on that other machine

But I'm guessing you won't.

  • I'm guessing this is a hardware problem.

  • I'm guessing that you do not have a physical switch on the device that would allow you to set or clear that write-protect.

In which case, you really are out of luck and it's probably time to just get a new one.

Article C5790 - September 9, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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1 Comment
Robert R
September 11, 2012 8:23 AM

Not necessarily a hardware problem. There is a way to set up a flash drive so it can't be reformatted or a portion of it can't be written on. The name of the product that does that escapes me but this is done on a lot of flash drives given out with vendor info on them.

There are some utilities from APACER and HP that will overwrite that protection. A google search on "can't format usb flash drive" will give you pointers to the software.

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