My external Western Digital Elements 500GB USB drive occasionally sets itself to "Write Protected" and I can't alter any of the files on the drive until I reboot and the write protection is reset. This usually happens after a day or so, and rebooting is the only way of unlocking the drive again. Why does it do this and how can I stop it?

I've run a full surface scan using Western Digital's own diagnostic software, and it completed successfully without any errors, as did the "quick scan" option.

I'm using Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 x64. I have no idea why the drive is doing this, so I'm not sure what information may be required from me besides my operating system, so feel free to ask!

Cheers!

Your registery might have been modified so that the writing on the usb device is disabled.

Try this :
Enable/Disable USBWrite

commented: Provided a helpful URL that addressed my problem :) +4

Your registery might have been modified so that the writing on the usb device is disabled.

Try this :
Enable/Disable USBWrite

Interesting! I haven't had the problem since I posted here (it happened several times over the course of a week prior to my original post), but I'll bookmark your URL and check to see if the registry changes when the problem happens, and if I can change it back if it does. I'll report back if/when the problem occurs again.

Cheers!

Following the instructions given in the URL you provided didn't help the problem when it arose again.

Any other ideas? haha

I have a few other bits of info that might help identify the problem:

When I open a text document on the drive and make a change to it, then try to save it, I get this error - "The media is write protected".

When I try to run ChkDsk on the drive I get this error - "The disk is write protected".

I think the issue is with Windows rather than the drive, because if I reboot the problem stops, but if I unplug the drive's power cable then plug it back in, Windows finds it again, and the write protection is still active.

Update: The drive now remains write protected even after several reboots, and even when I boot into Safe Mode.

Please tell me this isn't a hardware fault haha, I already had to get my last drive replaced because it went tits-up (that problem completely different, however).

I am sorry, I can't help you, since I don't know the USB device very well, but you don't seem to be the only one experiencing this problem...

I know this is not of any help but at least it might mean that this is not a problem related to YOUR hard drive in particular.

EDIT : have you browsed the FAQ concerning your product on the official WD website ?

commented: Your original URL was more helpful than I first thought! +4

I am sorry, I can't help you, since I don't know the USB device very well, but you don't seem to be the only one experiencing this problem...

I know this is not of any help but at least it might mean that this is not a problem related to YOUR hard drive in particular.

EDIT : have you browsed the FAQ concerning your product on the official WD website ?

Hello again,

I've read through the Western Digital website's support pages (nothing relevant was there) and I also contacted them through their website about the problem. So, let's see what they have to say about it!

Thanks mate.

I'm an idiot...here's why:

I found a tool called "Thumbscrew" that switches storage devices' write protection on or off. When I read their website they said that the only thing they do is change this value:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies\WriteProtect

1 for "on" and 0 for "off". I tried that, then rebooted, and it has apparently unlocked the drive again. I double-checked the URL you sent me and I realised that (partly owing to a typo on the part of the author) the instructions were exactly the same, but I mistakenly used the "on" value instead of "off".

All this aside, I still haven't figured out why my drive sets itself to write protected to begin with. But hopefully this Thumbscrew tool will help out in the meantime.

Cheers mate!

You're welcome, I was a bit surprised when you said that it didn't solve your problem since it really seemed to be closely linked.

Et voila ;-) !

I've read that the problem may be caused by the fact that I'm using a hard drive that was formatted in XP with Vista. If this is the case, is there any way to correct this problem without actually reformatting it?

Thanks!

I think I've found a workaround for this problem. I say "workaround" because it basically involves changing a few things from their default settings, which doesn't really solve the problem so much as bypasses it.

Firstly, I found a series of options in the Group Policy Object Editor that deal with read/write permissions on hard drives and removable media. I basically changed their individual settings from "Not configured" to "Disabled". They are as follows:

Start > Run... > gpedit.msc > OK

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Removable Storage Access [In here I disabled all of the "Deny read access/write access" options; you may only want to disable the ones relating directly to your type of media]

Do the same as above, except the first step is "User Configuration" instead of "Computer Configuration"

The second thing I did involves the registry. My post above regarding the Thumbscrew software already mentioned this, but I've since learned from browsing various forums that there's a little more to it.

Backup your registry before continuing. If you're not sure how, read on.

Start > Run... > regedit > OK

Highlight "Computer" and right-click. Select "Export" and save the backup somewhere safe. Just double-click it if you want to reset the changes you make.

Navigate to the following registry location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies

Click on StorageDevicePolicies and on the right-hand side there should be a DWORD value labelled "WriteProtect". If there isn't one, create it. Either way, make sure it has a value of 0. Double-click it to change it.

Do the same with the following two locations (creating any non-existent keys/values along the way):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet002\Control

I haven't had the problem since I did this, which was the same day as my last post (about a week) so I'm reasonably confident that this has put a stop to it. I hope so, anyway!

Thanks!