Make USB Storage Read-Only: Registry, Group Policy, or Software

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If you are reading this post then I guess you might be looking for a way to prevent unauthorized copying of files from your computer. Here I will show you three ways by which you can make USB storage devices such as flash drives, external hard disks, etc. connected to your computer read-only. After implementing any of theses, you remove the write access to USB ports but still you can read data from them as you normally do.

USB Read Only

Make USB Storage Read-Only Using Group Policy Editor

  1. Open Windows Run dialog by pressing Win + R keys together.
  2. Type in gpedit.msc and press Enter to open Group Policy Editor.
  3. Now navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Removable storage access and find “Removable Disks: Deny write access” in the list in right window.
  4. Double click on it and click on Enable.
  5. USB Read Only gpedit.msc

  6. Save changes by clicking on OK.
  7. Finally restart your computer to take effect.

Make USB Storage Read-Only Using Registry

  1. Open Windows Run dialog by pressing Win + R keys together.
  2. Type in regedit and press Enter to open Windows Registry Editor.
  3. Now navigate to the following Registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies.
  4. If StorageDevicePolicies key doesn’t exist, you will have to create (right click on ‘Control’ key > New > Key) it. After creating, select the key and right-click in the right window and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value from the context menu. Name the new entry WriteProtect.
  5. Double-click on WriteProtect and change its value from 0 to 1. 1 disables writing to all USB storage devices, and 0 enables writing.

USB Read Only Registry

Software to Make USB Storage Read-Only

If you want a quick and easy solution, here are some free software that can enable write protection on USB storage devices with the click of a button:

While enabling write protection adds another layer of defence to your data, it should be noted that the system is not foolproof on its own as users can still email or upload to internet, or copy over a local network connection. However, it is handy if the computer is not connected to the internet or if you just want to protect your friends from copying any file from your computer.