Flash storage drives may potentially store sensitive or private information, from work projects to personal finance documents. When you don't want anyone to have direct access to read or write to the data on the flash drive, it is possible to turn on the "write protection" feature. Unfortunately, removing the write protection feature in Windows Vista may end up being more complicated than turning it on, because there are several different methods for protecting the drive's data.
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Connect the flash drive to your computer's USB port. Click the "Open a folder to view files" link when the Vista auto-play window appears.
Right-click one of the write-protected files and select "Properties." Select the "General" tab and locate the "Attributes" heading at the bottom of the window. Click the "Read-Only" box if it is currently checked.
Navigate to the "Security" tab. Click the name of your Windows Vista profile and then select "Edit." Click the check boxes labelled "Read" and "Write" and then select "Apply." Click "OK."
Try opening and changing any of the write-protected files. Open the "Start" menu and click inside the Search box if the files remain write protected. Type "regedit" and tap the "Enter" key.
Click "Continue." Click the icon for the Windows Vista registry editor. Click the triangle icon next to the "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE" folder to expand the menu.
Expand each of the subfolders named "System," "CurrentControlSet" and "Control." Scroll through the list of subfolders and see if there is an entry labelled "StorageDevicePolicies."
Open the folder if it is present. Right-click the "Control" folder and choose "New," and then "Key," if the folder is not present. Type "StorageDevicePolicies" and hit "Enter."
Right-click the white area underneath the "Default" value at the right side of the window. Select "New" and then "DWORD." Type "Write Protect" in the name field and press "Enter."
Right-click the new value and choose "Modify." Type "0" in the "Value Data" field and click "OK." Restart the computer and access one of the files on the flash drive.
Tips and warnings
- Some USB flash drives have a physical switch that allows you to turn on or off the write protection feature. Check the edge of the flash drive to see if there is a plastic switch that can be moved toward an unlock icon.
- Certain flash drive manufacturers install protection software directly on the drive. Double-click the icon for the software after choosing "Open a folder to view files" and then follow the on-screen instructions to turn off the write protection feature.
- If the "Write Protect" value is already present, you don't need to add it again. Simply choose "Modify" and change the value to "0." Setting the value to "1" will turn the write protection feature on again.
- The registry editor contains values that are necessary for Windows Vista to work. Do not modify or delete any other folders or values in the registry editor.
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