Fix 'This Drive Is Read Only' on SD Card/USB/Hard Drive [5 Methods]

Tracy King updated on Jan 22, 2021 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.

Case 1 - USB drive is in read-only mode, how do I change this?

current read only state yes in diskpart

"My USB is read-only, help! 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?"

Case 2 - What does it mean when Steam says this drive is read-only?

Steam read only drive

"Tried to create a new folder in the Steam library, but it failed to create a folder, saying this drive is read-only. What does it mean? And how do I fix this issue?"

Is your SD Card, USB, hard disk drive or external HDD having a "this drive is read-only" error that you can neither access nor modify the drive at all? If it's so, stay here. On this pape, you will learn:

  1. What does it mean when a drive is read-only?
  2. How to make a drive not read-only?
  3. Why is my drive read-only?

If you are looking for a way to change drive from read-only to read and write again, follow the fixes as presented below:

About Read-Only Error
How to Remove 'Read-Only' Error (5 Fixes)
Supplementary: How to Recover Data from Removing Read-Only SD Card/USB/HDD

About This Drive Is Read-Only Error

To get rid of the drive is read-only error from your SD card, USB or hard disks, you should first understand: 1. What is the "drive read-only" error? 2. What causes the drive read-only?

Being it similar to the write protection error, "Drive is read-only" is a permission error that users can only read or copy saved data on a storage device, but not allowed to write new information or edit the saved data. The "Read-only" state could be on a single file, a folder, or even an entire disk like a memory card, USB flash drive, pen drive, hard disk drive, solid-state drive, and external HDD.

According, the causes of this error are various. Here we collect the most reasons that may lead to a storage device read-only:

  • Device is locked
  • No write permission to the current disk
  • Device file system permission is set to be read-only
  • Drive or file is set with read-only permission
  • Drive is write-protected

How to Remove 'This Drive Is Read-Only' Error

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 remove the error and make your device readable and writeable again:

  1. #1. Login as Administrator and Access Read-Only Drive Again
  2. #2. Clear Read-Only Error from Hard Drive/SD Card/USB
  3. #3. Change Read-Only Permission
  4. #4. Take Ownership of Folder and Gain Write Permission
  5. #5. Remove Write-Protection from Disk

You can follow the guide step by step to open and make full use of read-only drive without any obstacles.

Using a Mac computer? Go to how to fix external hard drive read-only on Mac for help.

#1. Login as Administrator and Access Read-Only Drive Again

Applies to: Remove read-only state from the hard drive by logging in as administrator.

Sometimes, when you log in computer with another user account, but not as the administrator, you may have a problem in gaining permission to read and write on storage devices. So, if you are having a read-only state drive on your computer, you can first try to log in as an administrator first.

Here are the steps:

Step 1. Click the Windows icon and click your username at the top.

Step 2. Select the other visible account on the list, click to switch to Administrator.

Switch user account to find missing files.

Step 3. Sign in with the password of your administrator account.

After this, you can try to open the drive which was with a read-only state, and check if you can write to the drive. If yes, congratulations. If not, don't worry. Try the other four presented fixes, one can help you out.

#2. Clear Disk Read-Only Error from Hard Drive/SD Card/USB

Applies to: Remove read-only state from hard drive, USB, SD card, etc.

To clear the Read-only state from your hard drive, you'll need to turn to DiskPart command lines for help. 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.

Step 2. Press Windows + X keys to bring up a dialogue and 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 and hit Enter.

N stands for the drive number of the drive you see from the step 4 result, e.g. select disk 1.

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:

#3. Change Permission to Make a Drive not Read-Only

Applies to: Change hard drive, SD, USB from read-only to read and write state in Windows Property settings.

Mostly, it happens to a folder or a specific file that may set to be read-only state on Windows PC or a game drive. When you tend to create a new folder or add a new file to the specific location, Windows will warn you that the drive is read-only.

You can simply set the device to read and write state via its Properties settings with the following steps:

Step 1. Open Windows File Explorer in Windows 10/8/7.

Step 2. Connect the read-only drive to PC, right-click on the drive and select "Properties".

Step 3. Under the Security tab, tick "Read" and "Write" in the Allow column. Click "Apply".

change read only permission in windows properties

If it's a read-only folder that lead to your drive unwritable, take the operation as listed here:

Right-click on the folder > go to Properties > On General tab, uncheck "Read-only" next to the Attributes sectioin > Click "OK".

Change Read-only file to readable and writeable.

#4. Take Ownership of Folder and Gain Write Permission

Applies to: Take the ownership of a specific folder or drive so as to gain the write permission.

Sometimes, when your current user account doesn't have the permission to write on a specific file, folder, or drive, you'll encounter with a read-only issue. To resolve this error, you can follow steps here to take the ownership of your drive:

Step 1. Right-click on read-only folder or drive, click "Properties" from Context Menu.

Step 2. Click "Security" > "Advanced", and click the "Owner" tab.

Step 3. Click "Change" on the popped up screen, enter Administrators or your user name under the Enter the object name to select section.

Then, click the "Check Names".

If all goes well, the input will change. Click "OK" to save changes.

Step 4. Check "Replace owner on sub containers and objects" and click "Apply" and "OK" to save changes.

Or you can check the "Replace all child object permission entries" option. 

destination folder access denied

#5. Clear Write Protection to Remove Read Only State

Applies to: Remove write-protection from the drive, USB, or SD which seems to be with the read-only error.

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:

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.

After following through all the above solutions, hopefully, you have cleared the read-only error from the storage devices, and be able to use the drive again as normal. Now, you may open the drive to access and save new data to your drive.

Don't worry if you see now files show up or you cannot open saved data. The supplementary data recovery solution as presented in the next part can help.

Bonus Tip: Recover Data from Removing "Drive Is Read Only" Error

Applies to: Recover data after removing the read-only error from a drive, SD card, USB, etc.

After removing the read-only error, some people may find their files are not visible or accessible. Formatting will make the device viable for data storage again but data will get erased.

Fortunately, 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 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


On this page, we explained what is Read-only error, what causes this error, and how to fully remove read-only from hard drive, USB, SD card, etc., storage devices.

If you are having a similar issue on your hard drive, check if you are logging as administrator first. If not, switch to the administrator account. If the drive is still read-only, try to take ownership of your drive. Then you can turn to DiskPart cmd command - attributes disk clear readonly to remove this issue.

After this, you can try to open your drive and modify the saved data again. If you lost data, turn to EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for help. Besides restoring lost files, you can also apply this software to scan a whole disk or even lost partition for retrieving vital files.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

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"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, so 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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