How to Unlock USB Memory Sticks

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USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory sticks permit the you to carry a fairly large amount of personal data in a small enough package that the devices can be placed into a pocket or on a key chain. While some sticks are manufactured without write protection, many have a built-in lever on the side of the casing which may be moved to one side to prevent accidental overwriting or viruses from being transferred to the devices, and the same levers may be moved to the other side to permit loading data on to the sticks.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing pin
  • Rotate the USB memory stick slowly while observing the side of the casing. Keep an eye out for a small external sliding lever. If the device has caused an error to appear on the computer screen when trying to write data saying the device cannot be written to, then the switch is set to the "Write-Protect Mode."

  • Slide the lever to the opposite side of the slide groove to unlock the memory stick if it is already locked with the lever in its current position. Use the tip of a finger to slide the lever until it clicks into "write mode" or until it cannot be moved any further.

  • Touch the slider lever with the tip of a sewing pin if the lever is recessed into the plastic body of the memory stick. Some manufacturers recess the switch so it cannot be accidentally moved from one position to the other.

Tips & Warnings

  • If using the tip of a sharp object, such as a sewing pin to move a recessed lever, don't apply much pressure to the recessed switch. Apply just enough pressure to keep the tip of the object against the ridges of the slider switch and then press the lever up, down, left or right as needed to activate or deactivate write-protection mode. Excessive force can push the lever into the device on some low-cost models.
  • Photo Credit Jeffrey Hamilton/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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