How to Fix USB Access is Denied in Windows 11/10

Home > HowTos > Troubleshooting Tips Updated by William on May 24, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

USB flash drives are handy tools for storing and transferring data. However, there may be times when you encounter an "Access Denied" error while opening them. This can be a frustrating experience but don't worry. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to fix the USB access denied issue in Windows 10/11.

Table of contents
Part 1. What Causes the Access Denied on USB Drive Error?
Part 2. Step-by-step Solutions to Fix USB Access Denied on Your PC
Part 3. Tip for Avoid the "Access Denied for USB Drive" Error Again in the Future
Part 4. FAQs

What Causes the Access Denied on USB Drive Error?

The USB drive access is denied error is a common problem that can occur due to several reasons:

In addition to the above reasons, many situations can cause the thumb drive to be locked. But there are also many solutions. So, follow the ways below to fix the flash drive access denied without data loss in Windows 10 and 11.

Step-by-step Solutions to Fix USB Access Denied on Your PC

Denying access means you lose access to the data stored in the USB drive. However, hastily fixing this error may cause important files to disappear forever. To be safe, use a free data recovery software to retrieve the files inside before you start.

Solution 1: Scan for Malware

If you've encountered the dreaded "USB disk access denied" message, then you know how frustrating it can be to try and access your important files. Unfortunately, infecting your computer with a virus or downloading malicious programs can lead to this scenario. But fear not, as there is a solution! The first step in getting your USB drive back in working order is to use a security tool to scan your computer and clear any threats that may be lingering.

Solution 2: Check the Physical Write-protect Switch (If So)

Securing our data is more critical than ever in today's digital age. That's why many USB drives now come equipped with physical write-protect switches to keep our information safe. While this is a great feature, it can sometimes be easy to enable it accidentally. If you cannot access your USB drive because of write protection, don't panic! The solution is as simple as flipping the switch back to its original position, and you'll be back to using your drive in no time.

Solution 3: Clear USB Write Protection

In addition to the physical write protection switch being turned on, the drive itself is write protected, so when you try to open it, the "USB drive access is denied" prompt will also appear. Therefore, follow the steps below to unblock the USB flash drive.

By Diskpart:

Clearing USB write protection via Diskpart is a process that involves using the command prompt. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Plug your drive into your PC's USB port.
  2. Type "CMD" in the search bar, choose "Command Prompt" and click "Run as administrator."

  3. In the open window, type "diskpart" and hit Enter.
  4. Type "list disk" and press Enter. It will display all the disks connected to your computer.
  5. Type "select disk X," replacing 'X' with your disk number, and press Enter.
  6. Type "attributes disk clear readonly" and press Enter.

  7. After receiving a message that the operation is completed successfully, type "exit" and press Enter to close Diskpart.

By Registry:

Sometimes, you may need to modify the Windows registry to disable write protection. Go to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > StorageDevicePolicies." If the "WriteProtect" value is set to 1, change it to 0.

Solution 4: Check Permissions

You often see "access denied flash drive" errors when you use an account with restricted permissions to access the drive or accidentally modify the access permissions of a removable device. Therefore, you can check the permissions and fix it by following the steps below:

  1. Log in to your computer with an administrator account and find your USB drive in File Explorer.
  2. Right-click the drive, select "Properties" and Move to the "Security" tab.
  3. In the "Group or user names" option, click the user name you used to log in to the computer and check whether "Full Control and Modify" is checked under the "Permissions for Authenticated Users" option.

  4. If not, click the "Edit" button to select it and try opening the USB again.

Solution 5: Check Local Group Policy Editor

It's a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that allows you to configure items such as system services, software/hardware settings, and more. You may be denied access to the USB drive if your settings are incorrect. So, follow the wizard below to check them out:

  1. Press the "Windows + R" key to open the Run dialog box, then type "gpedit.msc" and press Enter.

  2. Click the "Computer Configuration" option in the left panel of the Local Group Policy Editor window.

  3. Expand "Administrative Templates > System > Removable Storage Accesses".
  4. Find the following three options:

    Removable Disks: Deny execute access
    Removable Disks: Deny read access
    Removable Disks: Deny write access
  5. Double-click each one and check if they are enabled. If yes, please disable them to help fix the "access denied USB" issue.

Solution 6: Reinstall the USB Drivers

Another common cause of the "USB stick access denied" error is issues with the flash device's drivers. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Press the "Windows + X" Keys and choose Device Manager from the list.
  2. In Device Manager, expand the "Universal Serial Bus Controllers" category. You'll see a list of USB-related drivers.

  3. Right-click on each USB driver listed (like "USB Root Hub," "Generic USB Hub," etc.) and select "Uninstall device." Confirm any prompts that appear.

  4. After uninstalling all the drivers, restart your computer. Windows will automatically reinstall the USB drivers when your system restarts.

If Windows doesn't automatically reinstall the drivers, you can manually update them:

  1. Return to Device Manager and expand the "Universal Serial Bus controllers" category again.
  2. Right-click on each USB driver and select "Update driver." Then, choose "Search automatically for drivers."

Tip: by this method, you can fix the USB not showing up in Windows 11 and 10.

Solution 7: Run Error Checking

Running error checking on Windows PC can help identify and fix issues with your USB is not accessible access is denied. Here are the steps to do it:

  1. Open File Explorer. In the left-hand pane, click "This PC."
  2. Right-click the hard drive you want to check for errors and select "Properties."
  3. Switch to the "Tools" tab in the Properties window.
  4. Under "Error checking," click the "Check" button. If errors are found, you'll be prompted to restart your computer.

Solution 8: Use Repair Command

If you're experiencing a "USB Access Denied" issue, one of the methods you can use is the CHKDSK via Command Prompt to check for any errors and attempt to fix them. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Type "cmd" into the search box.
  2. Find the "Command Prompt" App and click "Run as administrator."
  3. In an open window, type "chkdsk [drive letter]: /f /r" and press Enter. Replace [drive letter] with your USB drive.

Solution 9: Run Troubleshooter

It is a built-in tool in the Windows operating system designed to identify and resolve hardware and device issues. To fix the USB Access Denied issue using the Troubleshooter, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of the screen.
  2. Click "Windows PowerShell (Admin)."

  3. Typing in "msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic" to open Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter.

  4. Follow the wizard to fix the "access denied flash drive" issue.

Solution 10: Format Your USB Drive Without Losing Data

If the above method of fixing USB not accessible access denied fails, then you can also format the drive to solve the problem completely. However, this will erase all data it holds. So before starting formatting, please recover all files by iBeesoft Free Data Recovery. To do this, you can follow this guide to fix access denied USB without data loss:

  1. Download and install the best free usb recovery software on your PC.
  2. After launching it, select your flash drive and click on the "Scan" button that appears.

  3. After completing the scan, select all the found data and click the "Recover" button to save them to a safe location.

  4. Open File Explorer and find access denied for USB drive.
  5. Right-click and select "Format" to reset the drive.
  6. Copy the recovered files to the USB drive.

If none of the above solutions work, it might be an issue with the USB drive. Try using it on another computer to see if the problem persists.

Tip for Avoid the "Access Denied for USB Drive" Error Again in the Future

To avoid encountering "USB Access Denied" issues, you can follow these tips to reduce the chances of it happening:

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the "USB Access Denied" issue:

Conclusion

Have you ever encountered the frustrating error message that says "USB drive access denied"? This problem can cause quite a headache, especially when you desperately need to access essential files stored on your flash drive. To this end, this blog provides comprehensive solutions to unlock a USB flash drive so that you can quickly fix this issue with the proper steps to get back to accessing your important files in no time.