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How to Disable Write Protection

Write protection allows a drive or SD card to keep its contents from being changed. This effectively prevents you from using the drive in any sort of meaningful way. There are many ways to disable write protection, from toggling a physical switch to delving into your computer’s advanced settings. However, if the drive has been corrupted, formatting it to a blank slate may be your only option.


Part One of Six:

Basic Fixes



Check the drive or card for a physical lock. Many USB drives and SD cards will have a physical lock switch that turns on write protection. Check to make sure that the drive does not have this lock enabled.

If your lock mechanism has been broken, see Fix a Broken Lock on SD Cards for a guide on fixing it.



Check if the drive is full. You may get a write protection error if there is no more space on the drive. You can see the amount of free space on the drive by selecting it in the Computer/This PC window. If your drive does have free space, the file you’re trying to copy to it may still be too large.



Check the file’s attributes. Sometimes the file that you’re trying to copy is actually the one that’s write-protected, not your USB drive. The error will be a little different, but looks pretty similar. You can change your file’s attributes by doing the following:

Windows – Right-click the file and select “Properties.” Uncheck the “Read-only” box and click “Apply.”

Mac – Control-click the file and select “Get Info.” Expand “Sharing & Permissions” and set the “Privilege” column to “Read & Write” for your user name.



Scan your USB drive or card for viruses. Whenever you plug a USB drive in, especially one that’s been plugged into another computer, you should scan it for viruses. Many virus scanners can be configured to scan USB drives automatically when they’re connected, or you can right-click on the drive and select “Scan with Antivirus.”



Scan your computer for viruses and other malware if all drives are write protected. If every drive you insert in your computer becomes write protected, you may have a virus or malware infection.[1]

Run an antivirus scan on your entire computer using your antivirus program.

Download and run Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. You can download it for free from malwarebytes.org.

See Remove Malware for more detailed virus removal instructions.



Run UsbFix to scan your USB drives. This is a free, open-source program designed to find problems with USB drives and Windows USB drivers. You can download UsbFix for free from fosshub.com/UsbFix.html.

Click “Research” after launching UsbFix.

Click “Clean” after the scan has completed.

Test your USB drives again.


Part Two of Six:

Using the Command Prompt (Windows)




Run the Command Prompt as an Administrator. If your USB drive or SD card is stuck in Read Only mode, you may be able to fix its attributes using the Command Prompt.

Press Start.

Go to Accessories.

Right-click Command Prompt, then choose “Run as Administrator”.



Type .diskpart and press ↵ Enter. This will launch the DiskPart utility in a separate Command Prompt window. You will likely be prompted by Windows to start it.


Type .list disk and press ↵ Enter. This will display a list of the drives connected to your computer.



Find your USB drive or SD card in the list. All of the partitions connected to your computer will be displayed, including your internal hard drives. There are several columns of information you can use to identify the USB drive:

The Ltr column displays the associated drive letter for each partition. Not all partitions will have letters, such as recovery partitions.

If you’ve given the USB drive a name before, it will be listed in the Label column.

Look for Removable in the Type column.

The Size column can help you differentiate between two similar USB drives.



Type .select disk X. Replace X with the number from the first column in the list for the USB drive or SD card you want to perform commands