To restrict users from plugging in and using USB storage devices in your system, you can fully disable USB ports in Windows 10. Here's how.
In almost any system, you can attach USB storage devices like thumb drives, pen drives, external hard drives, etc. Once attached, you can read, write, and modify the data in those devices. Generally, having a usable USB port is very useful. After all, most of us use some sort of external storage device to transfer or store data.
As good as it is, there will be situations where you need to block all USB ports in Windows. Mainly because you don't want users attaching USB drives and transferring or reading data without authorization. This is especially important for work environments. For these kinds of cases, Windows has some options to fully disable USB ports. Let me show you how.
Note: Once you disable USB ports in Windows, you will not able to use them only as long as Windows is running. This is because you are not disabling the hardware itself but putting simple yet affective software restrictions. So, do keep that in mind.
1] Disable USB Ports in Windows via GPO
To make things easier, Windows has a dedicated Group Policy Object that disables the USB ports. Well, not necessarily disabled outright but blocks the read and write access. Once those two things are blocked, the USB storage devices are essentially disabled.
Note: The steps shown are only applicable to Windows Pro and Enterprise versions. If you are using Windows Home edition, follow the second method.
1. First, open the Group Policy Editor by searching for "Edit group policy" in the start menu. Once opened, expand the folder structure on the left panel and go to the following location.
Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → System → Removable Storage Access
2. Once you are here, on the right panel, find and double-click on the "Removable disks: deny execute access".
3. In the properties window, select the "Enabled" radio option and click on the "Ok" button to save changes.
4. Do the same thing for the other two policies "Removable disks: deny read access" and "Removable disks: deny write access".
5. After modifying all three policies, reboot Windows to apply the policy changes.
Once you reboot the system, all the USB ports will be disabled. If you want to reverse the process, select "Not configured" or "Disabled" in the policy properties window for all three policies.
2] Use Registry Editor
Windows Home users can use the Registry Editor to disable USB ports. Before proceeding, back up the registry so as to be safe in case anything goes wrong.
1. Open the Start menu, search for "Registry Editor" and click on the result. This action will open the Windows Registry Editor.
2. After opening the Registry Editor, copy the below path, paste it in the address bar and press Enter. Doing that will take you to the "USBSTOR" folder.
3. Once you are here, on the right panel, find a value named "start" and double-click on it.
4. The above action will open the Value properties window. In the value data field, type "4" and click on the "Ok" button to save changes.
5. Once you've done all that, close the Registry Editor and reboot Windows to apply changes.
That is it. After restarting, the USB ports will be disabled. If you want to revert back, follow the same steps but type "3" in the Value data field in step four.
I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.