How and why to disable USB Ports on your Windows 10 Machine

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There are some of us out there who are extremely paranoid about their data – and rightly so. Someone with the right amount of luck can successfully steal your data on your computer physically without you even knowing in just a few minutes or more depending on the size of your data. So what can you do to prevent that from happening? Disable your machine’s USB Ports.

Yes, that’s right, by disabling the USB Ports, you are makings sure that nobody can copy your data using a flash drive connected to one of the USB Ports. Though it doesn’t mean that other methods, like online attacks or literally removing your hard drive from your computer, doesn’t exist, but then again, some form of safety is better than nothing.

Furthermore, it can so happen that your noob family member has a USB Flash Drive containing viruses or malicious software unintentionally, and all it takes is a second for that virus to be transferred from the source to your computer. When your family member asks for your Windows 10 laptop or machine, you can simply give them your laptop and tell them to try using the USB ports, since they won’t work!

That said, there are multiple ways to disable your device’s USB ports, so let us get to the good part.

Disabling the USB ports using the Windows Registry Editor

As daunting as it may seem, if you follow the following instructions carefully, there is no way you can go wrong:

  • First of all, to open the “Run” dialog box, just press Windows Key + R at the same time. Alternatively, you can search “Run” using Cortana or Windows Search.
  • When the Run Dialog Box appears, type regedit and then press enter.
  • Now the registry editor would open, and you need to double click on the entry called HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
  • Scroll down the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE sub-options and choose System. In the sub-options of System, there would be an option for CurrentControlSet, choose that.
  • Again from the next set of options, go to Services folder and then USBTOR. Finding USBTOR can be a hassle, but you would find it eventually from a long list of folders which are thankfully in alphabetical order.
  • From the right-pane after selecting USBTOR, choose the Start option at the bottom of the list, and a new window would pop up.
  • In the new window, the default value is supposed to be 3 and by changing it to 4, you can safely disable your device’s USB Ports.

To re-enable the USB Ports, just go through the whole process again, and set the value to default i.e. 3.

Disabling the USB Ports through the Device Manager

This one is perhaps rather straightforward and the easiest, but also less trustworthy. This is because the Windows 10 re-enable the USB ports itself even if you have disabled them after some time. Though if you are looking for anything in the short run, then this is it.

  • Right-Click on the Start Menu and choose Device Manager. Alternatively, you can Press Windows + R key and then type in devmgmt.msc in the run box followed by enter.
  • Once the device manager opens up, choose Universal Serial Bus controllers, which is probably going to be the last one on the list. From there, right click on each and every device, and choose Disable device. You can also choose the Uninstall Driver option from the device’s properties, so that when the next time the device connects, it won’t be able to find drivers for itself to install properly. Though beware that Windows 10 might download the drivers automatically in some time, so this method isn’t that reliable.

Disabling USB Ports through the Group Policy Editor

This option might not be available on some machines.

  • First of all, open up the Run dialog box by pressing Windows + R key and type in gpedit.msc
  • From the new window on the left pane, choose Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Removable Storage Access.
  • On the right pane of the Window, now there would be some new options. What you are looking for are options stating the following:
    • Removable Disks: Deny execute access
    • Removable Disks: Deny read access
    • Removable Disks: Deny write access
  • You need to click on all three of them to configure them accordingly. A new window would pop up everything and by default would have three options on the left, and set to Not Configured.
  • You need to change the settings on all three of them to Enable so that your computer effectively denies read, write and execute access to removable disks.

In case you change your mind some time, you can just follow the process again, and set the options on all three to Disable or Not Configured.

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