Windows 7 Registry Tweaks

Registry Disable USB

How to Disable Saving to USB in RegistryRegistry Disable USB

The scenario:  You want to prevent users saving files to a USB drive, probably for security, and to prevent data theft.  After this registry tweak users can still read from the USB drive.

Topics for Disable USB in Registry

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Preliminary Step Disable USB in the Registry

Before you use the registry to disable USB settings, launch explorer and make sure you can save files; check that 'New' on the shortcut menu has not been already disabled by a Group Policy.

Instructions To Disable USB in the Registry

Our mission is to find a specific Control setting in the registry, create a new Key and then add a DWORD value called WriteProtect.

1) Launch Regedit

2) Navigate to this key:
HKLM\System\ControlSet001\Control

3) Create a New Key called StorageDevicePolices.  Ignore the existing key called plain 'Storage'.

4) Create a New: 'DWORD (32-Bit) Value'.  Name this new value: WriteProtect

5) Edit the 'Value data'.  What I do is double click WriteProtect, then click in the 'Value data:' set to 1.  If it displays as  0x00000001 (1) this is a good sign it is going to disable saving to the USB drive.

6) To check the fruits of your labours, close the registry editor and restart the computer.

Screenshot showing how the registry can disable USB with WriteProtect = 1.

Disable USB Registry WriteProtect

To Use the Registry to Enable USB Settings

It's easy to employ the registry to enable USB settings.  Launch regedit and use 'Find' to get to StorageDevicePolices.  There, seek the setting WriteProtect and set its Data = 0 (zero).  This means reverse the protection.

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Key Learning Points to Disable Writing to the USB

  • The overall learning point is that WriteProtect requires a new parent folder or Key called StorageDevicePolices (see above screenshot).
  • Do you find the WriteProtect value in HKCU** or HKLM?
    Answer: HKLM.
  • Do you have to add a value, or modify an existing setting? 
    Answer: Add a new key then a new value.
  • Is it a String Value or a DWORD?
    Answer: DWORD (32-Bit Value)
  • Do you need to Restart, or merely Logoff / Logon?
    Answer: Restart
  • Tip: Add this Value, WriteProtect to Regedit's Favorites menu

** HKLM is an abbreviation of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, and HKCU is shorthand for HKEY_CURRENT_USER.  These acronyms are so well-known that you can even use them in .reg files, Windows 7will understand and obey the registry instruction.

Disable Writing to USB Using a .Reg File

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies]
"WriteProtect"=dword:00000001

Note:  There is an extra line after Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

How to Import .Reg Files Into the Registry

The concept is simple; create a text file with notepad, then type, or copy and paste the above 4 lines.  Crucially, save the file not as a .txt, but with a .reg extension.

Once you have the information about the key, the settings and the value in that file, there are at least three ways of importing the information into your registry. 

  1. Double-click the .reg file.
  2. Right-click the .reg file, select Merge from the drop-down menu.
  3. Launch Regedit then select, File (menu) Import.

See more examples of .reg files

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Disabling the USB Through Group Policy

As far as I can see, Group Policy does not have a default setting to disable drives containing removable media, such as USB ports, CD-ROM drives.  However you can apply ADM templates which extend Group Policy to use customised settings.

Here is an ADM for Windows Server 2003:

CLASS MACHINE
CATEGORY !!category
CATEGORY !!categoryname
POLICY !!policynameusb
KEYNAME "SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\USBSTOR"
EXPLAIN !!explaintextusb
PART !!labeltextusb DROPDOWNLIST REQUIRED

VALUENAME "Start"
ITEMLIST
NAME !!Disabled VALUE NUMERIC 3 DEFAULT
NAME !!Enabled VALUE NUMERIC 4
END ITEMLIST
END PART
END POLICY
POLICY !!policynamecd
KEYNAME "SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom"
EXPLAIN !!explaintextcd
PART !!labeltextcd DROPDOWNLIST REQUIRED

VALUENAME "Start"
ITEMLIST
NAME !!Disabled VALUE NUMERIC 1 DEFAULT
NAME !!Enabled VALUE NUMERIC 4
END ITEMLIST
END PART
END POLICY
POLICY !!policynameflpy
KEYNAME "SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Flpydisk"
EXPLAIN !!explaintextflpy
PART !!labeltextflpy DROPDOWNLIST REQUIRED

VALUENAME "Start"
ITEMLIST
NAME !!Disabled VALUE NUMERIC 3 DEFAULT
NAME !!Enabled VALUE NUMERIC 4
END ITEMLIST
END PART
END POLICY
POLICY !!policynamels120
KEYNAME "SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Sfloppy"
EXPLAIN !!explaintextls120
PART !!labeltextls120 DROPDOWNLIST REQUIRED

VALUENAME "Start"
ITEMLIST
NAME !!Disabled VALUE NUMERIC 3 DEFAULT
NAME !!Enabled VALUE NUMERIC 4
END ITEMLIST
END PART
END POLICY
END CATEGORY
END CATEGORY

[strings]
category="Custom Policy Settings"
categoryname="Restrict Drives"
policynameusb="Disable USB"
policynamecd="Disable CD-ROM"
policynameflpy="Disable Floppy"
policynamels120="Disable High Capacity Floppy"
explaintextusb="Disables the computers USB ports by disabling the usbstor.sys driver"
explaintextcd="Disables the computers CD-ROM Drive by disabling the cdrom.sys driver"
explaintextflpy="Disables the computers Floppy Drive by disabling the flpydisk.sys driver"
explaintextls120="Disables the computers High Capacity Floppy Drive by disabling the sfloppy.sys driver"
labeltextusb="Disable USB Ports"
labeltextcd="Disable CD-ROM Drive"
labeltextflpy="Disable Floppy Drive"
labeltextls120="Disable High Capacity Floppy Drive"
Enabled="Enabled"
Disabled="Disabled"

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Summary of How to Disable USB in the Registry

This is a job for Regedit.  Firstly you research the correct hive of HKLM.  Then create the key StorageDevicePolices.  Next add a DWORD called WriteProtect. A value of 1 means disable USB in the registry.

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