By Cherry / Last Updated May 25, 2020


"When I go to delete/create/modify a file from a flash drive that is formatted with exFAT, the Windows says the drive needs to be checked for errors, I cannot delete any files. That means I cannot delete files on exFAT at flash drive without running chkdsk. Why would this happen? Why can’t I delete/create/modify without using chkdsk first on exFAT, yet I can on NTFS and FAT32?"

Why can’t delete files on exFAT?

Like the Scenario narration, you may want to delete files on exFAT drive. However, when you do that, you may meet the problem that exFAT can’t delete files, even create, modify files. Why that happens? You can open an elevated Command Prompt and run the following command line:

Fsutil dirty query X:

*X: is the drive letter of the exFAT flash drive.

If it is “dirty”, it would be the reason why you can’t delete files on exFAT. That is because of this type of file system has a kind of auto protection against corruption, so it blocks further changed by adding a dirty state to a volume and read only attributes to all files.

Besides, if the exFAT drive is being write-protected, you cannot delete files on the exFAT either, or doing any change on the exFAT drive including create/modify files.

Thus, if you would like to change data on the exFAT drive, you need to remove the “dirty” and the write-protection from the exFAT drive.

How to solve it?

It is troublesome when you meet the problem that cannot delete files on exFat at flash drive without running chkdsk. As we know it is because the “dirty” and write-protected of exFAT drive now, we can solve it by remove the dirty and write protection. Here are some methods for you.

Method 1. Check write protection switch

Some USB or card reader may have a physical switch which allows you to lock or unlock write protection. You need to make sure whether the lock switch is slid up to unlock position. If it is locked, you will not be allowed to copy files to the drive or do other changes on the drive. If it is unlocked or your flash drive or card reader does not have the write protection switch, but you still have this problem, you should move on the try another way.

Method 2. Remove the “dirty”

When you meet the problem, you can run the command “Fsutil dirty query X: ” (X: is the drive letter of the exFAT drive), or run the command “chkdsk /f” to check the hard drive corruption. If the drive got “dirty”, then, you have only 2 options - either you run the chkdsk or you save your files, and reformat the flash drive.

Run chkdsk

Run “chkdsk X: /f /r /x” (X: refers the drive that needed to be checked; /f will fix the errors on the disk; /r can check the physical errors on the drive).

*The checkdisk operation will help you remove the dirty and remove the write protection. If this operation does not solve your problem, save the files, and reformat the flash drive.

Reformat the exFAT flash drive

Reformat the exFAT flash drive is another effective way to remove the dirty and write protection. Open the Windows Explorer, find the exFAT drive, and select Format.

Windows 10 Format

However, you may meet the problem that “The disk is write protected” when you format with Windows Explorer. Thus, you cannot format it but have to turn to third party software to make it.

Format Write Protected

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a great free exFAT format tool that can help you remove the write protection of exFAT via reformatting the exFAT flash drive easily without paying. It supports all types of disk such as HDD, SSD, SSHD, USB flash drive, SD card, pen drive, etc. What’s more, it can work with computer that installed Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP (both 32 bit and 64 bit). The next content will introduce you how to reformat exFAT with AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.

Before you do:

  • Backup your files on the exFAT flash drive before formatting. Because this operation will delete all data on the drive.

  • Free download AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard, install it to your Windows computer.

  • Connect your exFAT drive to your Windows computer, make sure it can be detected.

After the preparation, you can start to reformat the exFAT drive step by step.

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant. To reformat exFAT drive, you need to find the exFAT drive in the main interface, right click it, selectFormat Partition.

Format Partition

Step 2. In the pop-up window, select exFAT in the File System drop-down menu, edit other options if you need. Click OK.

exFAT Format

Step 3. Here you will back to the main interface, click Apply->Proceed to initiate the progress.

Apply Proceed

Step 4. Wait till the progress reaches 100%. Close the program.

After the formatting, you have removed the write protection from the exFAT drive. And you can delete/create/modify files on the exFAT drive as you want.


When you meet the problem that exFAT can’t delete files, you need to find why it happens first, and then, find a way to solve it. Hope the tool AOMEI Partition Assistant would solve your problem. Actually, it is a great disk partition manager that will help you manage your internal/external hard drive better. You can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional to unlock more features such as allocated free space, convert system disk between MBR and GPT, etc.