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USB Becomes Read Only

Friday, June 1st, 2007 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management

USB Becomes Read Only

In the corporate world, a lot of time is spent on locking down computers to minimize the risk of confidential information leaving the company. With the popularity of USB storage devices growing in recent years, the problem for large corporations has exploded.

Almost all users want to use USB storage devices to move data around, but with the size of USB storage devices increasing so much in recent years, the risk is ever growing as more and more data could possibly be stolen or lost accidentally. Within companies, USB storage devices have been banned completely and disabled from use on company computers.

In Windows Vista though, there is an alternative that will allow corporate users to be able to read from USB storage devices, but not write any data to them. This will effectively turn on USB storage devices for all users and they’ll be safer to use because of the read only feature. This way, users can still read information off of USB storage devices that a third party vendor may provide data on, while preventing the employee from writing any data back to the it.

To set up a read only USB storage device operation, just follow the steps below. Now, this tip does require you to work within your registry editor. Be extremely careful while you’re doing this. The registry is not difficult to use if you follow the directions exactly, but if you’re not 100 percent sure you can do it, please ask someone else for some help. If you make a mistake in your registry, it could cause you more problems down the road. Okay, now that all of that is said, let’s get started.

1.) In Vista, click on the Start button and type “regedit” in the search box and then hit Enter.

2.) Navigate through to this location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control.

3.) Right click on Control and select New, then Key. Call the new key “StorageDevicePolicies.”

4.) Right click on StorageDevicePolicies and select New, then Dword. Call the new Dword “WriteProtect.”

5.) Right click on WriteProtect and select Properties. Then set the value to 1 and hit OK.

Your computer is now configured to disable any writing to USB storage devices. They will all be read only from now on.

Note: Although this tip talks about corporate computers the most, this same configuration can be made for individual desktops for home PC users as well (that’s you!) It’s just another way to keep yourself safe with the new Windows Vista operating system. I’m lovin’ it, aren’t you?!

~ Ramachandran Kumaraswami

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