Remove/Fix 'Read Only' of SD Card/USB/Hard Disk/External HDD

Tracy King updated on Sep 16, 2019 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles


SD memory card, USB pen drive, internal hard disk drive (HDD) or external hard drive cannot be modified because of Read-Only Memory (ROM), take it easy. This page teaches you how to use the attributes command to remove SD card read only as an example, so you can apply it to any other drives alike in Windows 10/8.1/8/7. And as a supplementary, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is available when data loss happens during the course.

About Read-Only Memory

Read-only Memory (ROM), according to the dictionary, is "memory read at high speed but not capable of being changed by program instructions".

It's similar to write protection, but strictly not the same. NOTE that this page mainly talks about ROM, which is a type of non-volatile memory used in computers and other electronic devices. A memory card, USB flash drive, pen drive, hard disk drive, solid-state drive, and external HDD, they are all the commonplace storage memory forms that we use in a computer and digital device. You should understand that it doesn't include fixes for read-only files.

How to Remove 'Read-Only' Error

"My disk is read-only, help! I could bring the disk online but couldn't write to it. I ran DiskPart and looked at the attributes of the disk, and I found that the Current Read-only State was set to yes, but the Read-only was set to No. Where do I start to clear the read-only mode?"

current read only state yes in diskpart

If it's SD card or USB flash drive showing read only, first you can check the lock switch is on or not. Like the below picture demonstrates:

place the lock switch to unlock position to remove readonly status

For hard disks and other types of memory cards and flash drives, the following troubleshooting will show you how to use DiskPart command to remove the error. 

You're going to follow the guide step by step to open Windows Command Prompt and make full use of attribute cmd.

This is how to list the disk in read-only status and how to clear read-only from it :

Step 1: Connect the drive to a Windows computer, and Windows will assign a drive letter to it. If it's a memory card or USB flash drive, it should be a removable disk.

Using a Mac computer? Go to the other page how to fix external hard drive read-only on Mac.

Step 2: Press Windows + X keys at the same time to bring up a dialogue. In the list, click Command Prompt (Admin).

open command prompt in windows

Step 3: On the Command Prompt windows, type DiskPart and hit Enter.

Step 4: Type list disk and hit Enter.

diskpart list disk command

Step 5: Continue typing select disk n (n stands for the drive number of the drive you see from the step 4 result, e.g. select disk 1). Hit Enter.

diskpart select disk command

Step 6: Type attributes disk to see the attributes of Disk 1. As you can see, the Current Read-only State and Read-only are both set to Yes.

diskpart attributes disk command

Step 7: To clear the Read-only attribute, type attributes disk clear readonly and hit Enter.

diskpart attributes disk clear readonly command

Step 8: Soon the attributes are set to No. Type exit to close the Command Prompt.

To sum it up, to remove SD card read only as well as other storage memory, you must run DiskPart commands including:

Click to copy

CMD Alternative - Remove Read Only by Clearing Write Protection

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.

Supplementary: How to Recover Data from Removing Read-Only SD Card/USB/HDD

Hopefully, you have cleared the read/write protection from the storage devices, and be able to use the drive again as normal. 

Different from this page's solution, some people are trying to format a read-only hard drive, it might help but data completely erased. Also, some are paying for encryption removable software, also facing an entire loss of precious photos, videos, and documents.

And as a supplementary, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is available when data loss happens during the course of troubleshooting. You don't need to pay a penny to test its capability of finding lost data. For an attempt, we suggest you download the free version, which allows for 2GB file recovery for free.

For example, to recover data from an external hard drive, follow the steps:

Step 1. Choose the external hard drive

Since you're going to recover data from the external hard drive, run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and under the External Devices tab, choose the exact drive where you lost data. Click Scan.

select external hard drive

Step 2. Scan for lost data

The software will start immediately to scan all over the selected drive for all lost data. During the scan, you could see more and more data showing up in the results.

scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

After the scan is over, check the scan results for the desired data. You can preview the file by double-clicking on it. Click Recover and choose another location to save the recovered data.

preview and recover data

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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.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.