By Cherry / Last Updated January 13, 2021

Scenario

"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 files 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 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 creating and modifying files.

Solutions to "Cannot delete files on exFAT drive"

From the last section, we know the causes behind the “cannot delete files on exFAT” issue. 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. Here are some methods for you.

Solution 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 check whether the lock switch slides 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 device does not have the write protection switch, but you still have this problem, you should move on to the next solution.

Move Lock Switch To Remove Write Protection

Solution 2. Remove the “dirty”

When you cannot remove files on exFAT, 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 gets “dirty”, then, you have only 2 options - either you run the chkdsk, or recover your files and reformat the flash drive.

Run chkdsk

Run “chkdsk g: /f /r /x” (g: 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).

Chkdsk Check Error

*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. Since the formatting process will erase everything on the drive, please recover files from it and move data to another new drive for a backup. Then you can reformat it using Windows Explorer, Disk Management or DiskPart.

However, you may meet the problem that “The disk is write protected” during the formatting process. Thus, you have to turn to third party software to make it. The free partition manager named AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a great choice. It can format the drive that is write-protected due to corrupted file system, and supports all types of disk such as HDD, SSD, SSHD, USB flash drive, SD card, pen drive, etc. To format exFAT drive on PC, do as below:

Step 1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant. Right-click the exFAT partition and select “Format Partition”.

Format Partition 16gb

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

Select File System 16gb

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

Apply Proceed 16gb

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.

Conclusion

When you meet the problem that exFAT can’t delete files, here you can find why it happens, and get 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 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, transfer OS between MBR and GPT disk, split partition, etc.