Remove Write Protection from USB, SD, Internal and External Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7

Tracy King updated on Dec 18, 2020 to Storage Media Recovery | How-to Articles

Does your SD card become write protected? Do you know how to remove write protection from your USB or internal/external hard drive and get all data back? Follow this article to unlock your write-protected hard drive, USB or SD card, etc. in Windows 10/8/7 without losing any data now.

When you can't make changes to files and data on USB flash drives, SD card, internal or external HDD/SSD and get a message stating "The disk is write-protected. Remove the write-protection or use another disk", it's time to remove write protection.

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What Is The Disk Is Write Protected?

The disk is write-protected error stops you from formatting, removing, copying & pasting files to the USB stick. Learn how to fix the "disk is write-protected, remove the write-protection..." error now.

The disk is write protected error.

Overview of USB Write Protection

Basically, people add write protection to protect data on a storage device from being modified or erased. However, sometimes, storage devices like USB flash drive, SD card, internal or external hard disk may become write-protected due to the following reasons:

  • The physical switch of the USB is on the Lock side.
  • USB is set as Read-Only by mistake.
  • Third-party encryption software or virus locked USB as write-protected.
  • BitLocker protection partition is turned on USB volume.

What does it mean when a USB is write protected? Once your USB flash disk, SD card, internal or external hard drive is write-protected, it means that your device is unavailable for making any changes, such as add files, remove saved data, or format the drive. The only way out is to remove write protection.

How to Remove Write Protection from USB in Windows 10/8/7

Here in this part, you'll find five methods to remove and disable write protection on a hard drive, USB or SD card, etc in Windows 10/8/7 computers. We will take USB as an example to show you the whole process of clearing device write protection from the bottom to the top.

5 Ways to Remove Write Protection from USB, SD Card, Internal/External HDD:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Check Physical Lock Switch Find the lock switch on either side of the USB...Full steps
Fix 2. Run Diskpart Command Open Command Prompt > Type diskpart...Full steps
Fix 3. Run Write Protection Remover Download EaseUS Tools M on your PC > Run...Full steps
Fix 4. Edit Registry Open Run in Windows 10/8/7 > Type Regedit...Full steps
Fix 5. Turn off BitLocker Partition Open Windows File Explorer > Right-click...Full steps

Note: Pick up one method to remove write protection from your USB flash drive, memory card, computer HDD or SSD now. The fixes are listed from easy to complex.

Method 1. Remove Write Protection from USB/SD with Lock Switch

In order to protect data security on USB or SD card, some manufacturers would add a switch on the device. Once the USB drive or SD card switch is locked, the device will become write-protected on all PC or devices.

Note that if your USB doesn't have a switch, move to Method 2 to remove the write protection.

Let's see how to use the physical switch to remove the protection on your USB now. You won't lose any data on your SD or USB flash drive:

Step 1. Find the physical switch on your USB or SD card.

Step 2. Turn the physical switch from ON to OFF and unlock the device.

Step 3. Connect the USB or SD card to your computer and check if the write-protected state is gone.

Image 1 - USB flash drive switch

Remove write protection on USB.

Image 2 - SD card lock switch

Remove USB or SD write protection.

 

If you can't access the saved data or the system still warns your USB is with a write protection error, follow Method 2 to fix this error.

Method 2. Clear Write Protection on USB via Apply Diskpart Command

This option applies to disable and clear read only (namely write protection) on an internal or external hard drive, and it also works on a USB flash drive or SD card.

Let's see how to use Diskpart command line fix this issue now:

Step 1. Press "Win + R", type cmd to open "Command Prompt".

Step 2. Type diskpart and hit Enter.

Step 3. Type list disk and hit Enter.

Step 4. Type select disk 2 and hit Enter. (Replace 0 with the write-protected device number) and hit Enter.

Step 5. Type attributes disk clear readonly and hit Enter.

Step 6. Type exit to close the diskpart window once the write protection removing process completes.

Clear readonly write protection from USB

After this, restart your PC and check if you can access and use the saved data on your USB or hard drive again.

Method 3. Use Third-party USB 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 4. Use Registry Editor to Clear Write Protection on USB Devices

It's effective to use Registry Editor to fix USB, SD, or internal/external HDD/SSD write-protected error. However, any false operation with Registry may affect the system performance.

Note that if you're not professionals, this method doesn't fit.

This method designed for experienced users with solid computer background, follow the below steps to remove write protection in the Registry editor in Windows 10/8/7/XP/Vista.

Step 1. Connect your write-protected removable device to PC.

Step 2. Open Registry by clicking "Start" > Type regedit in the Run dialog > Click "OK".

Open Registry to fix write protected error on USB, SD or internal/external hard drive.

Step 3. Click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > Expand "System".

Step 4. Click "Current Control Set" in System list > Click on "Control".

Remove write protection on USB/SD/hard drive in Windows with Registry.

Step 5. Check "Storage Device Policies" > Change DWORD value data to "0" > Click "OK".

Remove write protection from internal/external hard drive, USB or SD card.

Step 6. Exit Registry and reboot PC.

Wait for the computer to restart, then you can check if your device is accessible.

Method 5. Turn Off BitLocker on USB in Windows 10/8/7

Mostly, when you enable BitLocker on your hard drive partition, it will protect your files with its encryption feature. So, you won't be able to do any changes to the BitLocker partition unless you remove or unlock the protection from it.

Here are the detailed steps for unlocking write-protected BitLockertai folders or partitions on your PC:

Step 1. Open File Explorer, right-click on your BitLocker partition or USB, select "Manage BitLocker".

Remove BitLocker protection.

Step 2. Select the locked device and click Turn off BitLocker.

Unlock BitLocker partition.

Step 3. Wait for BitLocker to decrypt on its own. 

Remove write protection from BitLocker partition.

After this, you'll be able to see your USB showing BitLocker off. Without BitLocker write protection, you can manage data on your USB partition and save new files to it again.

Bonus Tips: Format USB after Removing Write Protection, NO Data Loss

After removing write protection from your storage devices, you can recheck files and make use of your USB flash drive or external USB drive again. If files were lost, apply reliable data recovery software to bring back the data first.

Also, to guarantee you a usable and secure circumstance on your USB, remember to format and reset your USB, SD card, internal or external hard drive file system to NTFS or FAT32.

#1. Recover Data First If File Loss After Removing USB Write Protection

Download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to recover any lost data during the write protection removal.

Step 1. Run USB data recovery software.

Connect the USB flash drive to your computer and launch EaseUS USB data recovery software on your PC. Select your USB drive which marks as a removable disk, and click "Scan" to start finding your lost files.

Select USB to scan and find lost files

Step 2. Scan all lost files from USB.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will thoroughly scan your USB flash drive and find all your lost data on it. After the scanning process,  use the Filter feature to filter a specific file type. You can check and preview found USB files in this program.

Scan USB drive to find lost files

Step 3. Restore all lost files from USB.

A double-click will allow you to preview the file results. Choose the target files and click "Recover" to save them to a secure location on your PC or other external storage devices.

Restore lost USB data

#2. How to Format USB Drive to NTFS or FAT32:

If you have files on the USB, back up important data on your USB drive before formatting it. 

Step 1. Open the Run box and type diskmgmt.msc and hit Enter.

open disk management to format a storage drive

Step 2. In Disk Management, locate and right-click on the USB and choose "Format...".

Step 3. Reset the file system of your USB drive to FAT32 or NTFS and click "OK" to confirm. 

(FAT32 for 32GB or smaller capacity; NTFS for 64GB or bigger capacity.)

reset the drive to ntfs or fat32 for reuse

Conclusion

This page offers five methods to help you get rid of USB, SD or internal/external hard drive write protection issues, including:

  1. 1. Swapping USB or SD card physical switch to the "Off" state
  2. 2. Using Diskpart command to clear read only
  3. 3. Use USB write protection removal tool
  4. 4. Changing Registry DWORD value to 0
  5. 5. Turn off BitLocker partition

If you are having a similar question like "How do I remove write protection on a USB drive?", "How can I remove write protection fro a USB drive in Windows 10?", and "How can I remove write protection from my USB in Windows 7?", just follow the article to unlock your write-protected device with ease.

People Also Ask

Besides removing write protection from devices, we also find that some people have similar issues on SD card, external hard drive, etc., devices.

In the below, we have listed some frequented asked questions and answers to help you remove write protection from your storage devices.

1. How to remove write protection from Micro SD card?

To remove write protection from your SD card, you may follow the quick guide for help:

Step 1. Run CMD as administrator.

Step 2. Type diskpart.exe.

Step 3. Type list disk.

Step 4. Type select disk + number.

Step 5. Type attributes disk clear readonly.

For a more detailed guide, follow How to Remove Write Protection and Format Write-Protected SD Card for help.

2. How can I remove the write protection from a single file?

If your file or folder is locked with a read-only state, you can unlock it from the write protection state with the following tips:

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

Remove write protection from a single file

3. How do you add write protection a flash drive?

There are three ways to can enable write protection on a USB flash drive:

  1. Use USB write-protection switch.
  2. Using diskpart to change read-only settings.
  3. Change security permission in USB properties.

4. How do I remove write protection from Seagate external hard drive?

Connect your Seagate external hard drive to your PC and remember its disk number. Open Command Prompt, type the following command one by one and hit Enter each time:

  • diskpart
  • list disk
  • select disk n (Replace n with the disk number of your write-protected Seagate external hard drive.)
  • attributes disk clear readonly

After this, if you find files lost on the disk, use reliable USB data recovery software to scan and bring your lost valuable data back with ease.  

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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, 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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