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How to Remove Write Protection and Format Write-Protected SD Card

Jean updated on Dec 16, 2020 Partition Master | How-to Articles

Are you having problems accessing a write-protected SD card, USB, or external hard drive? Check out the fixes and learn how to remove write protection on SD card, USB, etc., and make your device workable for saving files again:

Causes of SD Card Write-Protected Error
Part 1. How to Remove Write Protection from SD Card [7 Fixes]
Part 2. How to Format Write-Protected SD Card (after Removing Write Protection)

Why Can't I Format My SD Card?

"My SD card becomes unavailable. Now I can neither copy files to the card nor format it. Once I tried to format the SD card, Windows prompts the error message constantly saying the card is write-protected. Does anyone know how to remove write protection and format the write-protected SD card?"

SD card is write protected, cannot format it

What is a write-protected SD card? According to Wikipedia, write protection is a physical mechanism that prevents users from modifying or erasing valuable data on a storage device. Files that saved on the write-protected storage devices will be protected.

In other words, once a storage device is write-protected, you can no longer use it like before. Any operation on it will be rejected. For example, if you suddenly find that your SD card becomes write-protected, you cannot write any new data to the card, delete files on it, or format it. Then the SD card becomes useless.

Causes of SD Card Write-Protected Error

To troubleshoot such an issue, first, you should learn the causes and then learn how to get rid of the SD card write protection error.

Causes of SD Card Write-Protected Error:

  • SD card or memory card is locked, displaying as write-protected
  • SD card gets encrypted by virus or malware
  • SD card contains bad sectors or internal file system
  • SD card gets locked by third-party write-protection software
  • Physical damage

Keep reading and you will find practical solutions here to make write-protected SD cards work normally again.

Part 1. How to Remove Write Protection from SD Card [7 Fixes]

Try the following methods and hope one of them can release your worries, removing write protection from your SD card on Windows 10/8/7, etc. After this, you can move on to the next part to format the SD card, making it secure for storing data.

Quick Fix:

When you cannot access the SD card, first try to unplug the SD card, switch the USB port, and change an SD card adapter. Then reconnect it to your computer and check if the SD card is accessible.

If the SD card becomes accessible, congratulations. If it's still write-protected, don't worry and try the following fixes. You'll fix this issue on your own.

Fix 1. Disable Write Protection on Locked SD Card with Physical Switch

Applies to: The SD card that equipped with a write-protection switch.

There is a physical write-protection switch on the side or the bottom of an SD card. The switch can secure contents and data on the SD card from being modified or infected by malware.

When you find the SD card is write-protected, you can disable the write protection on the locked SD card using its physical switch. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Disconnect your SD card from PC, and check if there is a small switch on its side.

Step 2. Check if the switch is on the unlocked side. If it's not, switch it from ON to OFF to unlock the SD card.

Disable write protection by unlocking SD card

By changing the position of the SD card physical switch, the write protection should be turned off and allow you to access the SD card contents. After completing the process, you can reconnect the SD card to the computer and use the files they saved on the SD card.

If your SD card doesn't have a switch or the SD card is still write-protected after unlocking the card, continue trying the following fixes.

Fix 2. Remove Write Protection from SD Card with Anti-Virus Software

Applies to: Write-protected SD card that is encrypted by unknown viruses or malware.

As you may have known that unknown viruses or malware sometimes may encrypt your device, add write protection to it, and disallow you to visit the saved data. The most efficient solution is to run antivirus software, removing virus and write protection from your memory SD card.

Here are the steps:

Step 1. Download and run anti-virus software on your computer.

Step 2. Insert or keep the SD card connected to your PC.

Step 3. Let the anti-virus software to scan and clean up the SD card, removing the write protection virus.

You can try any of the following listed anti-virus software for help:

  • Norton Antivirus
  • McAfee
  • ESET NOD32
  • Avira
  • Avast
  • AVG

Fix 3. Manually Remove Write Protection from SD Card using CMD Command

Applies to: SD card that has been set as read-only.

Sometimes, when a storage device becomes write-protected, it is because the device is set as Read-only. The only way out is to clear the read-only state with the command line, making the device re-writable again. 

Step 1. Connect your SD card to the computer first.

Step 2. Press Win + X at the same time, you will see a cmd window. Type "diskpart" on the keyboard and press Enter to confirm.

Step 3. Type the following command and hit Enter each time:

list disk
select disk # (# is the number of your write-protected SD card.)
attributes disk clear readonly

Remove write protection from SD card using cmd

Wait for the process to complete and close Diskpart. After this, you will be able to access your data again.

Fix 4. Fix SD Card Write-Protected Error using CMD Alternative 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.

Fix 5. Remove SD Card Write Protection using Registry Editor

Applies to: For experienced users to remove write protection from SD card using Registry Editor.

Here are the detailed steps of how to remove SD card write protection with Registry Editor.

Step 1. Type regedit in the Search bar and press Enter. Click "Yes" to open the Registry Editor.

Step 2. Go to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies.

Step 3. Locate StorageDevicePolicies. If you can't find it, manually create this folder: right-click on "Control" and click on "New" > "Key", name this as "StorageDevicePolicies".

Step 4. Right-click on StorageDevicePolicies and click "New" > "DWORD Value". Name it as "WriteProtect".

Step 5. Double-click on "WriteProtect" and change the Value Data to "0" and then click "OK."

Step 6. Close the "Registry Editor" and restart the PC.

Change Registry word value to remove SD card write protection.

After this, re-insert the memory stick into your computer, you shall be able to access the card by then.

Fix 6. Check and Fix Disk Error to Decrypt Write-Protected SD Card

Applies to: The SD card that is encrypted or locked due to internal disk error or file system issues.

Sometimes when the SD card contains internal errors or unknown file system issues, it will become inaccessible. As a result, some may think it's write-protected. An efficient way is to run the CHKDSK command to fix the disk errors, making the SD card accessible again:

Step 1. Connect the SD card to your computer.

Step 2. Type cmd in the Search box and right-click Command Prompt, select "Run as Administrator".

Step 3. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

Step 4. Type chkdsk E: /f /r /x and hit Enter. (Replace "E:" with the drive letter of your SD card.)

When the steps complete, wait for the command prompt to clear existing errors on the card. Then close the command window. If you are thinking the process is too complex, you can also apply EaseUS partition manager software with its "Check File System" feature for help.

Fix 7. Unlock Write-Protected SD Card with Third-Party Software or Take It for Repair

When your SD card gets encrypted or locked due to third-party software or it is physically damaged, there are two ways that you can try:

  1. #1. Run encryption software to unlock the write-protected SD card.
  2. #2. Take the inaccessible or physically damaged SD card to a local repair center.

Part 2. How to Format Write-Protected SD Card (after Removing Write Protection)

Now things get easy after we have removed write protection from the SD card. In order to obtain a secure circumstance for storing data, we suggest you format the write-protected SD card after removing write protection.

You can either run Windows Disk Management or File Explorer to format the SD card. Here, we would like to introduce to you a more user-friendly free partition manager - EaseUS Partition Master Free. With EaseUS Partition Master, you can format SD card, memory card, even USB, external hard drive after removing write protection in a few simple steps.

Download the tool and follow the steps below to format the SD card.

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2. Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3. In the Warning window, click "OK" to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

After the operation, you can use the SD card to save or transfer files again.

The Bottom Line

This page covers the causes that make your SD card write-protected and offers 7 fixes to help you remove write protection from it effectively.

Note that, after removing the write protection, you should apply a reliable formatting tool to format the SD card to a proper file system - FAT32 for SD smaller than 32GB, exFAT for SD larger than 64GB. 

EaseUS Partition Master also works to manage SD card, such as resizing partition, formatting SD card to FAT32, converting RAW to NTFS, etc. You may also apply it as a data transfer tool by cloning partition data to an SD card. It's efficient and secure.

The provided methods on this page can also be applied to remove write protection on USB, internal, or external hard drive effectively.

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