If you are anything like me, you’ll have a pile of dead USB drives lying in a drawer somewhere, all displaying the “write protected” error. You don’t want to dispose of them, but you don’t exactly have much hope of resurrecting them. I felt the same until tonight, when upon searching for a last resort I figured out the best way to fix these drives. This guide sets out the steps you should take to remove the write protected error from your USB drive.
Method 1: DiskPart
To begin with, open a Command Prompt in Administrator Mode.
- Open the Start Menu by pressing the Windows Key on the keyboard.
- Type “cmd” (without quotes) into the Search Bar.
- Right click on the “Command Prompt” search result.
- Click “Run as administrator”, you should see a window like this appear.
- Type “diskpart” (without quotes).
- Type “list disk” (without quotes) and find the disk which has the closest number of GB in the “Size” column to the USB you are trying to fix. If you are unsure, unplug the drive and see if it still appears in diskpart. If it disappears when you unplug it then it is the correct disk, note down the disk number (e.g 4).
- Type “sel disk” followed by the number of the disk which belongs to the USB drive (e.g “sel disk 4”).
- Type “attributes disk clear readonly” to clear the read-only status on your drive.
- Type “exit” and close the window, at this point you can attempt to format/use the USB drive, the write protected error should be gone.
Method 2: Reprogramming controller chip
Warning: Only use this method if the DiskPart method does not succeed on your USB drive.
Before you begin this method, you must do the following:
- Accept that your data is all but gone, and by reprogramming the memory controller you will lose all inaccessible data on the drive.
- Ensure that no other USB drives are plugged into the system.
- First, download the ChipGenius program and unzip the folder to another folder on your desktop if necessary.
- Select your USB drive from the top menu, and find the 4 digit VID and PID numbers listed under “USB Device ID”.
- Go to flashboot.ru/iflash and enter the VID and PID numbers at the top of the list, then click “search”. A list of USB drives matching your VID and PID numbers should appear, find the one closest to your exact model of drive (with matching storage capacity if possible).
- Find the appropriate utility to fix your drive by looking at the “Utils” column for your drive (shown below).
- Copy the link shown in the utils column and paste it into your browser. NOTE: The pages shown have a high likelihood of being in Russian or Chinese, some Google Translate may be required to figure out which button is the download button, however Google Translate may struggle to translate the entire page and leave you on your own after you click the translated “Download” link.
- Run the tool you have downloaded, searching for instructions online if necessary. ensuring only the USB drive you wish to fix is plugged into your system. WARNING: Failure to ensure this could result in irreversible damage to other drives plugged into your system through USB.
- Once the tool has finished, remove the USB drive and reboot your computer. Your USB drive should now be functional.
It still doesn’t work!
ChipGenius or the downloaded utility shows an error before I can start it.
First, unzip the folder the utility was contained in by right clicking on it and clicking “Extract all”. The contents will then be extracted into the folder where it was saved (e.g Downloads). Find this folder (it should have a plain folder icon, rather than a zipped folder icon) and run the utility from there.
If this fails to help the problem, right click the .exe file and click “Troubleshoot compatibility”, complete the compatibility wizard and attempt to fix the drive again.
The utility ran successfully, but I still can’t use my USB drive.
As these utilities were designed for old versions of Windows, sometimes the drivers need to be changed or refreshed. To do this, follow these steps:
- Plug the USB drive into the computer and ensure other USB drives are unplugged for the best chance of success.
- Open a “Run” window by pressing Windows Key + R
- Type “devmgmt.msc” into the Run window and press enter.
- Click on the arrow beside the “Disk drives” category to expand it if it is not expanded already.
- Right click on your USB Drive name in this window (e.g Sandisk….. USB Device)
- Click “Update driver” and then in the window that appears click the top “Search automatically for updated driver software” button.
- Once this concludes, it may state that the included drivers were already up to date, but this should be sufficient to force the computer to use the new drivers that the utility may provide.
- Reboot your computer.
If you come across any other problems, contact me through my contact page, I’ll do my best to assist you with this. If this helped you, feel free to tell me also, your feedback is greatly appreciated.