How to Recover Locked SD Card Pictures/Files

Jean updated on Apr 21, 2020 to Data Recovery | How-to Articles


To unlock the SD card, you should check the LOCK switch position first and then use CMD to remove digital write protection. Or, use your password to unlock your SD card. After SD card unlock, recover SD card pictures and files. Try EaseUS data recovery software, which recovers data easily and quickly.

Part 1. How to Unlock SD Card (4 Ways)
Part 2. How to Recover Lost Pictures/Files from SD Card (3 Solutions)

Part 1. How to Unlock SD Card in 4 Proven Ways

If you are faced with the same situation that the SD card is locked or write-protected, we can help you solve this problem. Here are four effective ways. You can manually unlock your SD card, remove write protection in Windows & Mac, and unlock SD card with a password.

Method 1. Manually Unlock the SD Card

This method can help you remove the physical write protection. There is a Lock switch on the left side of the SD card. Make sure the Lock switch is slid up (unlock position). You will not be able to modify or delete the contents on the memory card if it is locked.

If the lock switch is loose and moves easily, it is likely the switch is sliding to the locked position as the card is placed in your host device. In this case, the card needs to be replaced.

unlock SD card manually

Method 2. Remove Digital Write Protection in Windows 10/8/7

This method is aiming at removing the write protection using CMD to unlock the SD card. If you are not familiar with CMD, you can use the CMD alternative. Read on and follow the details below:

Step 1. Make sure that you're using an administrator account. And connect the SD card to your computer. 

  • If your computer has an SD card reader, the card should slide label-up and gold connectors-first into the reader.
  • If your PC doesn't have a card reader, you'll need an SD card adapter to do this.

Step 2. Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Search "Command Prompt" and click "Run as Administrator".

run as administrator

Step 3. Type these commands one by one and press "Enter" after each: 

Click to copy

# is the number of the SD card with which you're getting the write-protected/ locked error. 

You will see a line of text that reads "Disk attributes cleared successfully", signifying that your SD card is no longer write-protected.

remove sd card write protection or unlock sd card

Also read: The disk is write-protected in Windows 10/8/7.

CMD Alternative - Write-Protection Removal Tool

If you are not professional in computing management and not familiar with command lines, don't worry. EaseUS R&D team has promoted a fresh kit for helping you resolve the write-protection issue on your hard drive, external hard drive, USB or SD card, etc., devices.

EaseUS Tools M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to the command line. 

Use this one-click tool to solve the write-protection issues on your own:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD and install EaseUS Tools M for free.

Step 2: Run EaseUS Tools M on your PC, choose the "Write Protection" mode.

Step 3: Select the device which is now "Write-Protected" and click "Disable" to remove the protection.

Remove Write Protection from storage devices.

Method 3. Removing Digital Write Protection on a Mac Device

Sometimes it may happen that file you want to make changes has read-only properties because of which you aren’t able to write into it. For this, you can explicitly uncheck the read-only property. Here's the way to unlock the SD card on a Mac.

Step 1. Connect your SD card to your Mac device.

Step 2. Check and remove the write protection on the SD card.

Right-click a file on SD card to choose "Get Info", then under |Sharing & Permissions", you will find "Read only" under Privilege. Click the lock icon and enter your administrator password to unlock settings, and then click "Read only" to change it to "Read & Write".

unlock sd card on a mac

If your SD card is locked down due to an error, the error will be fixed by First Aid.

Step 1. On the "Go" menu, click "Utilities". Start the Disk Utility program.

use first aid to check and repair sd card error

Step 2. Choose the SD card on your Mac. Then, click the "First Aid" tab.

Step 3. Click "Run" to repair the disk volume errors and permissions. When it finishes, click "Done".

Method 4. Unlock/Decrypt SD Card with Password

If your memory card or SD card is locked by a password, then this method is suitable. If you used a third-party encryption tool to encrypt the card, you can easily decrypt it using the tool with a password. If you used an Android phone to lock the SD card, the only way to access data on the SD card is to decrypt it. Here we'll take the Samsung phone as an example for decrypting the SD card with a password on the source phone:

You cannot decrypt the SD card on another phone. Different phones have different encryption algorithm and the ways of decryption are also different. Therefore, to access all saved data on the SD card, we advise you to decrypt the card on the source phone.

Step 1. Insert the SD card to the source Samsung phone, restart the phone. Go to "Settings" and tap on "Lock screen and security".

unlock sd card with password

Step 2. Scroll to the bottom and tap on "Decrypt SD Card".

tap decrypt sd card

Step 3. Tap on "DECRYPT SD CARD" and enter your password. Wait for the decryption process to finish, keeping the device charged during the process. 

Also read: How to decrypt files without the key

Part 2. How to Recover Lost Pictures/Files from SD Card

Since you have unlocked your SD card, you can recover lost files and pictures from your SD card easily. Here are three ways to recover lost SD card files using Windows computer, a Mac and an Android phone. 

Solution 1. Recover SD Card Files Using a Windows Computer

To recover lost SD card data after removing or disable write protection on the SD in Windows 10/8/7, professional data recovery software from EaseUS is my recommendation. This powerful data recovery software is safe and clean. It provides you with lots of benefits:

  • Recover deleted, formatted, and inaccessible data in different data loss situations.
  • Recover photos, audio, music, and emails from any storage effectively, safely and completely.
  • Recover data from the recycle bin, hard drive, memory card, flash drive, digital camera and, camcorder.

Follow the steps to recover files from your SD card:

Step 1. Run SD card recovery software and scan the card.

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard on your PC and select your SD card. Then click "Scan" to start finding lost data on your SD card.

select the sd card and click scan

Step 2. Check found SD card data.

After the scanning process, you can click "Filter" to quickly find wanted files.

find wanted sd card files

Step 3. Restore SD card data.

You can check and preview found files by double-clicking each one of them. Then click Recover to save found SD card files to a secure location on your PC or external storage.

recover sd card files

Solution 2. Recover SD Card Files With Mac

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac has a reasonable price and provides professional data recovery methods to recover lost videos, music, documents, application, audio, etc. Besides, SD cards and other storage devices are all well supported by this software. You can activate this software by clicking the button to restore as many files as you want: 

Step 1. Correctly connect your memory card to your Mac. Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. Start selecting the card and click Scan to let the software search for lost files on it.

select the sd card where data lost and click scan

Step 2. After quick scan and deep scan, all files will be presented in the left pane in the scan results.

scan the sd card to find the lost data on it

Step 3. Select files you want to recover and click Recover Now button. Don't save the recoverable files to the SD card itself in case of data overwriting.

click recover now button to recover the sd card data

Solution 3. Recover SD Card Files from Android Phone

If you lose pictures or other data from an Android phone, and you don't want to use the PC, you can still restore deleted data from the SD card with the help of EaseUS. If you accidentally deleted the items. Don't panic! Recover your data with the mobile version of EaseUS MobiSaver for Android. This application can restore deleted photos, videos, contacts, call logs, SMS, and WhatsApp messages from Android devices. 

Step 1. Launch the app on your phone and select "SD card". Start scanning lost photos and videos by tapping the "START SCAN" button. Deleted photos and videos will appear on the screen.

Step 2. Tap on settings. You can set preferences to let the software scan and display some specific file sizes, file formats, etc.

Step 3. After the scan, select displayed files and tap on "Recover". Tap on the eye icon. All the recovered photos and videos are kept there.

recover lost files from android sd card

The End

The most important thing is that unlock your SD card before you recovering data from it. The effective four methods will do you a favor. Then, you can use reliable data recovery software to get back wanted data. By the way, having a backup in advance will always help even you fail to unlock your SD card.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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