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How to Format Write Protected SD Card [6 Ways]

Updated by Tracy King on Jun 09, 2021
Written by Jean

Are you looking for a reliable way to format a write-protected SD card, USB, or external hard drive? When you get a "The disk is write protected" error while formatting the SD card, don't worry. 

Follow this page, you'll learn how to remove write protect from SD card and format it to usable again on your own.

What Is a Write Protected SD Card, How Do I Format It

"My SD card becomes unavailable and I tried to format the SD card, Windows says the card is write-protected. How do I format the write-protected SD card?"

If 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.

SD card is write protected, cannot format it

Quick Fix for Write Protection Removal on SD Card:

  • Unplug and replug the SD card.
  • Switch the USB port, and change an SD card adapter.
  • Reconnect the SD Card to a new computer.
  • Check if the SD card is accessible.

If the SD card becomes accessible, congratulations. If it's still write-protected, follow the 6 fixes in Part 1, you'll fix this issue successfully.

Part 1. How to Remove Write Protection from SD Card - 6 Ways

Hope one of 6 ways can release your worries, removing write protection from your SD card on Windows 10/8/7successfully:

  1. [1] Use SD Card Physical Switch
  2. [2] Run AntiVirus Software
  3. [3] Run CMD Command
  4. [4] Use CMD Alternative Tool
  5. [5] Run Registry Editor
  6. [6] Take Device for Repair

Note: After this, if your SD card becomes accessible, back up all data first. Then formatting it to a secure state in Part 2. 

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

If there is a physical write-protection switch on the side or the bottom of an SD card, you can remove write protection on the locked SD card using its physical switch.

Here are the steps to unlock SD card which is write-protected:

Step 1. Unplug your SD card from the PC and find the physical switch.

Step 2. If the switch is on the lock side, switch it from ON to OFF to unlock the SD card.

After this, the write protection should be turned off.

Disable write protection by unlocking SD card

Step 3.  Reconnect the SD card to your computer and see if you can access files saved on the 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

As unknown viruses or malware sometimes may encrypt your device, adding write protection to it, and disallowing you to visit the saved data.

The most efficient solution is to run antivirus software, removing write protection viruses from your memory SD card. Here are the steps:

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

Recommended antivirus software: Norton Antivirus, McAfee, ESET NOD32, Avira, Avast, AVG, etc.

Install antivirus software

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

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

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

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

Follow the steps carefully to remove write protection from your device:

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

Step 2. Press Win + R keys, type cmd in the Run dialog and click "OK".

Step 3. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

Step 4. 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 don't consider yourself a pro-computer user and you're not familiar with command-lines, don't worry. There are graphical-based solutions to help you remove write-protection from your hard drives, USB drives, and even SD cards.

EaseUS CleanGenius is one of these tools that helps you fix aforementioned issues on your drives without knowing a thing about command-line.

Here's an easy-to-follow guide on how to use this tool to get your issues sorted:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD and install EaseUS CleanGenius (free) on your computer.

Step 2: Run EaseUS CleanGenius on your PC, select Optimization and choose the Write Protection mode.

disable write protection

Step 3: Select the device that is write-protected and click Disable to remove the protection.

Disable Write Protection from storage devices.

Fix 5. Remove SD Card Write Protection using Registry Editor

Registry Editor also works to clear write protection from your device. However, with a false operation, your OS may go down. 

Follow the detailed steps below, be very careful 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.

Open Registry

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

Step 3. Locate StorageDevicePolicies.

Step 4. If you can't find the StorageDevicePolices folder, create one:

Right-click on "Control" > Click "New" > "Key", name it as "StorageDevicePolicies".

Create new key in registry to remove write protection

Step 5. Right-click on StorageDevicePolicies and click "New" > "DWORD Value". Name it as "WriteProtect".

Step 6. Double-click on "WriteProtect" and change the Value Data to "0" and then click "OK."

Step 7. Close the "Registry Editor" and restart the PC.

set value data

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

Fix 6. Unlock Write Protected SD Card with Decryption 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 decryption 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 Write Protection Removal

Here are two things that you should do after removing write protection from your SD card:

  1. 1. Open SD card and save valuable files to another location. If not accessible, let data recovery software help. 
  2. 2. To obtain a secure circumstance for storing data, format the write protected SD card.

Here, you'll need a professional SD card formatting tool for help. EaseUS Partition Master Free with its powerful partition management feature can help.

With it, you can format SD card, memory card, even USB, external hard drive after removing write protection in a few simple steps.

  • Right-click the external drive or USB you intend to format and choose "Format".
  • Set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4), and Cluster size, then click "OK".
  • Click "OK" to continue.
  • Click the "Execute Operation" button and click "Apply" to format the hard drive partition.

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

Causes of SD Card Write-Protected Error

According to Wikipedia, write protection is a physical mechanism that prevents users from modifying or erasing valuable data on a storage device. In a word, when a storage device is write-protected, any operations on it will be rejected.

Some of you may also want to learn the causes of SD card is write protected error. Here are the main causes of SD card write-protected error:

  • SD card or memory card is locked
  • SD card gets encrypted by virus or malware
  • SD card contains bad sectors or internal file system (See: How to check file system)
  • SD card gets locked by third-party write-protection software
  • Physical damage

After getting the causes, you can also try to protect your storage devices from these errors. For example, turning off the lock switch, running antivirus, setting proper file system, etc.

Fix SD Card Write Protected Error Is Possible, Start Here Now

This page offers 6 fixes to help you remove write protection from a write protected SD card on your own. The provided methods can also be applied to remove write protection on USB, internal, or external hard drive effectively.

Note that, after removing write protection from your device, you should set a proper file system to your SD card, USB, or hard drives - FAT32 for SD smaller than 32GB, exFAT for SD larger than 64GB. EaseUS Partition Master can help.

With it, you can easily manage SD card on your own, such as resizing partition, formatting SD card to FAT32, converting RAW to NTFS, etc. Fixing and formatting a write protected SD card is possible, go and start the process here now.

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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