How to Open a Write Protected Flash Drive

By Ty Arthur

Flash drives, such as USB memory drives or memory sticks on a digital camera, are a convenient way to store large quantities of data into a relatively small amount of space. If you have important data that you don't want anyone else to modify, you can set the files on the flash drive to "Read Only" mode so that they are write protected and cannot be modified. If you have accidentally turned on the write protection feature for a file you still need to make changes to, you will first need to remove the Read Only setting before opening up the file.

Step 1

Remove the flash drive from its corresponding port on your computer. Check the back end of the flash drive and see if it has a tab that can be moved.

Step 2

Click the tab on the back of the flash drive into the position marked as "Unlock." Plug the flash drive back into its port on your computer, and then click on the "Open a folder to view files" option when a window appears asking what action you want to take.

Step 3

Click and drag the file that you want to open onto your desktop. Open the file and attempt to make any change to see if you receive an error telling you that the file is set to Read-Only mode.

Step 4

Right-click on the file. Scroll down to the bottom of the pop-up menu, and then click on the "Properties" option.

Step 5

Access the "General" tab, and then scroll down to the heading labeled "Attributes." Un-check the box marked as "Read Only" if it is currently checked. Click on "OK."

Step 6

Open up the Start menu if the "Read Only" check box is grayed out and you cannot click on it. Click on "Run," and then type in "CMD" if you are using Windows XP or an earlier operating system. Type "CMD" into the Search box, and double-click the icon that appears if you are using Windows Vista.

Step 7

Type in the phrase "attrib -r +s" followed by the location of your flash drive, such as "attrib -r +s E:\" if your flash drive is designated as the "E:\" drive on your computer. Press "Enter" to enter the command and remove the Read Only feature from the drive.

Step 8

Drag the file you want to modify onto the desktop again, and then open and attempt to modify it.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you still cannot open or modify any of the files on the flash drive, then it has likely become corrupted and will need to replaced.
  • Do not attempt to modify a file directly from the flash drive. Always drag the file to your desktop and open it first. If you modify a file directly from the flash drive, it can cause the drive to become corrupted because of how the drive stores and changes its data.