8 Ways to Fix Cannot Delete Files from USB Flash Drive

If you cannot delete files from your USB flash drive, get 8 fixes to solve this issue in this post. We also offer an easy way to recover files from USB flash drives.


By Lori / Updated on April 2, 2024

Share this: instagram reddit

"I've got this USB headache – I just can't delete files from my USB drive when I want you to clean my storage device in Windows 10. Why the USB flash drive won't delete files? Any quick fixes? Thanks."

Faced with the frustration of being cannot delete files from USB drives? It's a common hassle, right? Reasons vary from pesky write protection to physical damage. In this guide, we'll dive into the causes and provide 8 effective methods to solve the issue, if you cannot delete files from USB drives. And, we offer an easy way to recover deleted files from USB flash drives.


Why Cannot Delete Files from USB Drives on Windows?

Before fixing this issue and performing and USB data recovery, it is important to understand the reason why can’t delete files from USB flash drive. There are several reasons why you can't delete files from flash drives on Windows:

🎗 Write Protection: Some USB drives have a physical switch that prevents writing or deleting files.

🎇 Insufficient Permissions: You might not have permission to delete the file.

🎡 Corrupted File System: The file system on the USB drive might be corrupted.

🎆 Malware or Antivirus Software: Malware or antivirus software running on your computer might prevent you from deleting the file.

🎐 Outdated USB Drivers: Outdated or incompatible USB drivers may let you cannot delete files from USB devices.

🎏 Damaged USB drive: The USB drive may be malfunctioning or damaged, you cannot delete files from USB drives.

How to Recover Deleted Files from USB Flash Drive Easily?

Sometimes, using File Explorer's search feature to delete duplicate files on USB drives can be risky because it may result in the accidental deletion of important files. Apart from that, partial users regret deleting their needed files from USB drives. So they’re eager to jump out of the data loss situation.

In this case, you don’t need to panic, because professional data recovery software MyRecover comes to the rescue. It’s efficient to recover deleted files from USB drives.

Professional Data Recovery Software
  • Support different brands of USB sticks such as SanDisk, Kingston, Samsung, ADATA, Transcend, PNY, Lexar, etc.
  • Scan the USB drive deeply and find out all the recoverable deleted USB files.
  • Recover 200+ formats: It can recover deleted Microsoft Word, Excel, PPT, PDF, JPG, MP4, MP3, CDA, ZIP, RAR, MSG, and more.
  • Has a high success rate and keeps the original file format, path, and size for the deleted files.

Step 1. Connect the USB drive to the PC. Download, install, and launch MyRecover, hover the mouse over the USB drive, and click Scan.


Step 2. Then the scanning process will start automatically. You can use the Search Box or the Filter feature to quickly locate the deleted files you want.


Step 3. You will see a list of data and choose the deleted files that you want to recover. Then, click Recover x files.


Step 4. Please select a new location instead of the original location and click Select Folder to confirm it.

Select Location

How Do I Force Delete a File from a USB?

In this part, we will show you how to delete files in USB that cannot be deleted in 8 effective ways. Now, please refer to the following steps to finish it. Have a try!

Fix 1. Restart the Computer and Try Another PC

Restarting your computer often resolves common hardware issues. When dealing with the problem of cannot delete files from USB drives, initiating a computer restart is the initial troubleshooting step.

If this action fails to rectify the issue, attempting the USB drive on an alternative computer can help determine if the problem persists across different systems.

Fix 2. Run the Virus & Threat Protection to Scan

The presence of viruses or malware on your computer might hinder your ability to delete files from a USB drive. To address this issue cannot delete files on a USB stick, you can remove ransomware virus and resolve potential threats. This way can

🔜 Type "Virus" into the search box. Open "Virus & Threat Protection" and navigate to the "Scan options" section. Then choose one of the available scan options to initiate the virus scanning process.


Fix 3. Get Permission to Delete Files

In some cases, if you don't have permission to modify your USB files, you cannot delete files from USB drive on Windows 10. Follow these steps below, you will fix the issue flash drive won’t delete files.

When USB drive access is denied, modifying permission may also fix your issue.

Step 1. Connect USB to Press Win + E to open File Explorer > right-click on the files you want to delete > select Properties Security.

Step 2. Locate your username and click the “Edit” button.



Step 3. Check the Allow box next to Full Control. After clicking the “Apply” button, remember to click “OK” to close it.


Fix 4. Remove Write Protection from USB Flash Drive

As mentioned above, write protection is among the possible factors of the issue cannot delete files from USB flash drives. Because the disk is write protected in Windows 11 /10 means that your disk or USB flash drive is set to read-only mode. So you might need to remove write protection from your USB flash drive, Please refer to the following steps.

Step 1. Insert your USB into the Windows. Then press “Win + X” and select “Windows PowerShell (Admin)” from the pop menu.

Step 2. Type the following command prompt one by one. Please remember to press “Enter” after typing each command line.

  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • select disk x (x refers to the disk number of your connected SD card.)
  • attributes disk clear read-only


Step 3. After seeing Disk attributes are cleared successfully, you can type “exit” to end this process.

Fix 5. Check Files and Folders on Flash Drive Was Not Set to Read-Only

If you cannot delete files from USB drive, another reason is that the folder or file is marked read-only. To resolve this, please ensure no files are marked as read-only. You can choose to modify the registry key to unmark the read-only option for affected files.

Step 1. Connect your USB drive to the PC. Press Win + R to open the Run command. Type “Regedit” and click OK.

Regedit Ok

Step 2. Navigate to the following path. Then, right-click the WriteProtect key and change the value data from 1 to 0. Finally, click OK.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Current Control Set\Control\Storage Device Polices

Write Protect

Fix 6. Delete Files Using Windows Command Prompt

If you can’t delete files from USB drives, trying to use a command prompt is a solution that can delete files from your USB drive directly.

Step 1. Connect the USB drive to your Windows. Type cmd in the search bar and click Run as administrator to open the command prompt.


Step 2. Type the command line del file path like “del /f "D:\OneDrive\Videos\File to Delete.txt" and press Enter. The file in the location of your choice will be deleted.

Fix 7. Format the USB Flash Drive

When the file system of your USB flash drive isn't compatible with your operating system, you cannot delete files from the USB drive. To resolve this issue, formatting the USB flash drive is a solution.

  • Formatting the USB will delete all your data. To prevent the loss of your valuable data, please back up your data before formatting. Here, you can use this free backup software for Windows like AOMEI Backupper Standard to back up your important files from USB drives.

Step 1. Connect your USB flash drive to the PC and open "This PC" or "My Computer".

Step 2. Locate and right-click the USB flash drive, and select "Format".

Format Disk

Step 3. Choose the desired file system (FAT, FAT32, or exFAT), select “Quick Format” and click "Start".

Windows Quick Format

Fix 8. Run the Check Disk Tool to Fix the USB

The problem of a 'Flash Drive Won't Delete Files' is often a result of file corruption or unreadability. To verify if this is the cause, you can run the disk error checking on your USB flash drive. Please follow the instructions below.

Step 1. Connect the USB drive to your Windows. Press the Win + E key to run File Explorer, right-click your USB drive, and select Properties.

Step 2. Navigate to the Tools tab and select Check.

Properties Tools Check

Step 3. If the tool checks errors on the USB drive, a message will be shown. Then, click “Repair drive”.



How do I force a USB to clear?
To clear a USB drive, located in Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Choose your USB drive from the list on the left, click “Erase” at the top, assign a unique name, and select a file system format.
Why can't I remove write protection from USB?
If you cannot remove write protection from your USB, check for a physical lock switch on the drive. Many USB drives and SD cards have this switch, which can enable or disable write protection. Locate the switch on the left or right edge. If it's in the Lock position, move it to the unlocked position.
Why is my USB drive suddenly write-protected?
USB drives might suddenly become write-protected due to a mechanical switch, often a small slider switch. This switch can accidentally trigger, especially in pockets or computer cases. To resolve this, find the switch and move it back to the unlocked position. Afterward, you should be able to copy files without any issues.


In this article, you know why files fail to delete files and get the above 8 top ways to fix this problem if you cannot delete files from USB drives.

Even if you unfortunately encounter this error due to USB or file corruption and you want to recover the files, we recommend you to use this reliable data recovery software MyRecover. It can help you recover lost or deleted files from USB flash drives with a high success rate.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.