[Solved] Can't Delete Files from USB Flash Drive in Windows 10/11/7/8

Updated to Data Erasure Tips by Amy on Jul 13, 2022 | Approved by Jennifer Allen

"Why can’t I delete files on my USB stick?" At some point, many people have asked this question in frustration. Usually, when you want to delete files from a USB drive, you just select the items you want to delete and right-click on the "Delete" button. Although this works most times, you may be unable to delete files from flash drive in some instances. So, what are the possible reasons for why files won’t delete from USB?

Quick Navigation
Part 1. How to Fix Can't Delete Files from USB
Part 2. How to Delete Files from USB Flash Drive Permanently

How to Fix Can't Delete Files from USB

Although different reasons may be responsible for why files won’t delete from flash drive, the good news is that you can resolve the issue. In truth, many solutions are available that you can explore to solve the issue without much stress. Let us look at these different solutions in detail.

Method 1: Get Permission from Windows Explorer to Repair Flash Drive Won't Delete Files

When cannot delete the folder on a USB drive, it may be because you do not have permission to access the file. You may be logged on as an Administrator and still have issues with making changes or deleting files. To claim ownership of the files and folders on your device, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and right-click on "Folders or Files" and then "Property" and then "Security Tab".
  2. Click on "Advanced" and then "Change Permission". Next, Select "Administrator" and then "Edit".
  3. Change the "Apply to Drop Down Box" to "This folder, subfolder, and Files".
  4. Click on "Full Control" under the "Allow" column and then click on "OK" and then "Apply".
  5. When the process completes, the dialogue box may be behind the Explorer window. So, minimize the window and click on "Ok" for all the dialogue boxes.
  6. Reboot the PC and try to delete the files again.

Method 2: Boot in Safe Mode Unlock to Delete USB Drive Files

When you discover that a file is locked, you can restart the device to unlock it. However, if it does not work, you can simply boot the PC into Safe Mode so you can unlock and delete the target file. Follow the steps to do this:

  1. Click to open "Settings" and then "Update & Security". Next, click "Recovery" in the left menu, and then click the "Restart Now" button under "Advanced Startup".
  2. Click on "Troubleshoot" and then "Advanced Options". Next, click on "Startup Settings" and then the "Restart" button.
  3. Click on F4 on the "Startup Settings" to enable Safe Mode.
  4. While your PC is in Safe Mode, find and delete the target files through File Explorer.
  5. Restart the device to exit Safe Mode.

Clear Randomly Attribute with Diskpart to fix Can't Delete Files from USB

When the reason you can't delete files from flash drive is because of a random attribute, you can clear the attribute to make it writable. You can use this for internal drives, ESB drives, SD cards, and external drives. Here are the steps to use the Diskpart command to resolve the issue:

  1. Press the "Windows + R" keys and then type "cmd" in the opened box to launch the Command Prompt.
  2. Type "diskpart" in the window and click on "Enter".
  3. Type "list disk" and click on "Enter" to preview the available disks.
  4. Type "select disk 2" and click "Enter". You should replace the number with the device number of the write-protected device.
  5. Type "Attributes disk clear randomly" and click on "Enter".
  6. When the process is finished, type "exit" to exit diskpart.
  7. Restart the PC and check to see if you can delete the target file on your device.

Method 4: Repair USB Drive with Check Disk Tool

The reason the flash drive will not let me delete files can be because the USB drive is corrupt. If this is the problem, you run USB repair with the Check Disk tool. Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Insert the USB drive into the USB port on your computer.
  2. Navigate to the "search bar" and type "cmd" and then click "Enter".
  3. Click on "cmd.exe" and open the "Command Prompt" as an Administrator.
  4. Enter "chkdsk h: /f /x" in the Command Prompt window and then click "Enter". The alphabet "h" represents the drive letter that is associated with your USB drive.
  5. After this process finishes, restart your PC and try to delete the files again.

Frequently Asked Questions for How to Delete Files/Folders on USB Flash Drive

Q: How to Force Delete Files from USB Drive with Command?

A: If files are open in an app, you will be unable to delete them. To delete such files, you have to force delete from the USB. Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Navigate to the "Start" and type "run" and then click "Enter".
  2. A dialogue box will open, type in "cmd" and click "Enter".
  3. Enter "del /f/ filereps" where "filereps" is the name associated with the files you want to delete.
  4. This should resolve the issue.

Q: Can’t delete a file that is opened in the System. How to Solve the Problem?

A: You can resolve the issue of why can’t I delete files on my USB stick with the following basic steps:

  1. Close the program and reboot your PC
  2. Navigate to ‘Task Manager and end the application. Next, change the File Explorer process settings and disable the Preview Pane of File Explorer
  3. Force delete the file through the Command Prompt

How to Delete Files from USB Flash Drive Permanently

When you force delete or format files from your USB flash drive, you only hide the files. With a tool, the files can easily be recovered. However, when you use a professional data remover, the files will be permanently deleted from your flash drive or PC. Of course, many data remover tools are available in the market but we recommend the iBeesoft File Shredder. It is the best software to use to delete files permanently. It can shred videos and other types of files, including documents, pictures, archives, audio, emails, and more.

Step-by-step Guide on How to Delete Files from Flash Drive with Write Protection

You can easily permanently delete files from USB flash drives, HDD, computers, SSD, memory card, external hard drive, digital camera, and more. The following are the simple steps to use the highly efficient iBeesoft File Shredder tool:

  1. Download the iBeesoft File Shredder and install the software on your computer. It is compatible with Windows 11/10/11/7/8.
  2. Click the "+" sign in the main window to select folders or files that you want to permanently delete from your USB flash drive or any other drive. You have to set the number of times you want the software to delete the folder or files. The default is three times but you can set it to as many times as you want.
  3. Click the "Shred Now" button to allow the software to delete the folders and files on your drive. It takes a few seconds to complete the process.

When the process finishes, you will see the message ‘Files shred have been completed’. These are the simple steps to completely delete files and folders from your USB flash drive or any other external drive and internal hard drive.


This post has explored the different methods of how to delete files from flash drive Windows 10. It has also looked at the best tool to use in permanently deleting files and folders from both external and internal hard drives. If you ever had a problem with deleting files from your PC, you now have many options of solutions that you can try to fix the issue. If you would like to delete files permanently, we recommend that you use the iBeesoft File Shredder.