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Summary :

Did you receive the message "the disk is write-protected" when you tried to copy files or folders to a USB flash drive or SD card in Windows 10/8/7? Take it easy now! This post will show you how to remove write protection from USB or SD card with ease.

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Help! The Disk Is Write-protected on USB/SD Card

“We have a Canon Powershot and want to transfer photos from computer back to camera. Says SD card is write protected. How do we remove the write protection?”tomshardware

Actually, a disk suddenly becoming write-protected is a very common issue, and it often comes out of the blue on a USB flash drive, pen drive, SD card or other data storage devices.

After plugging a drive into your PC to copy or modify a file & folder, a window might pop up with the error: “The disk is write-protected. Remove this write-protection or use another disk”.

copy folder the disk is write-protected

modify file the disk is write-protected

When the write protection error occurs in Windows 10/8/7, it will continue to stay even if you click the Try Again button. Because of this, you might think that the disk is no longer usable and should be thrown into the dustbin.

Actually, it might not be completely unusable. This disk is still healthy; it is just in the write-protected state. That is, you can only read data from your device, but you are not allowed to write, delete, copy or do any other operations to modify the data.

As a result, the disk write-protected error will be invoked when files or folders are being copied to a USB drive, pen drive or micro SD card.

If you are also facing a similar situation, take it easy now. This post will show you how to remove the write protection from USB drive, SD card, or pen drive in Windows 10/8/7.

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

You might ask: how do I remove write protection on a USB drive or SD card?

When searching for solutions to "the disk is write-protected" error online, you will find many related forums and articles. Then, you might start to think removing the SD card/USB drive write protection could be troublesome.

But actually, it is a very simple process, and here we have summarized seven methods as follows. Just try them to easily remove write protection from USB/SD card/pen drive in Windows 7/8/10.

Solution 1: Check and Kill USB Flash Drive Viruses

When a USB flash drive, pen drive, or SD card is plugged into a PC, it could be easily attacked by viruses attached to spyware downloaded from an illegal website. The files or folders on this device could also be easily filled with viruses that can lead to the disk is write-protected error on your storage device.

In this case, you need to download anti-virus software and set it to automatically scan your device. Once a virus is found, please kill it at once to remove the write protection from USB drive, pen drive or SD card.

Solution 2: Check and Unlock USB Flash Drive

Some external devices including pen drives, or USB flash drives have a mechanical switch used to lock or unlock your device, but some don't.

Therefore, you should check whether there is a switch like this on your device. It could be put into write protection mode to prevent accidental writing.

unlock USB drive to remove write protection

If it is, please move the switch to the unlocked position and then try copying files again. Perhaps this operation can be done successfully after the switch has been unlocked. If this method still cannot solve the disk is write-protected error in Windows 7/8/10, please try the next one to remove write protection on USB or pen drive.

Solution 3: Check and Make Sure USB Flash Drive/SD Card Isn’t Full

Sometimes if the USB stick or SD card is full with files, it is very likely to receive the write protection error when files are being copied to it.

Right-click this drive and select Properties. Then you can view the size of used space and free space in Windows 7/8/10. If there is enough free disk space and you still encounter this issue, it might be because the file you are trying to copy to the USB drive is too large.

check free disk space of the USB drive

Solution 4: Change File Not in “Read-only” Status

In addition, sometimes the file is set to the Read-only status, which indeed could cause the disk is write-protected error on a USB flash drive, micro SD card or pen drive.

To remove write-protection in USB, pen drive or SD card, right-click the file you want to copy and select Properties.

Then you can view three options on the bottom, among them, please ensure that the Read-only option is unchecked. Finally, click Apply to let this change effective.

not check read-only status of file

Solution 5: Run Diskpart to Clear Write Protection

To fix the disk is write-protected error, you can also adopt the Command Prompt to do this work.

Please run CMD as an administrator, then type diskpart command and hit Enter to run diskpart. It is a built-in disk partition tool in Windows 7/8/10.

With this tool, you can modify the value related to your USB drive/SD card. Then type the following bolded commands one by one:

list disk (all disks on your computer will be listed here)

select disk n (n refers to the number of your USB flash drive or SD card)

attributes disk clear readonly (this command can disable write protection)

After performing this operation, try copying files again. The USB write protected error should be removed.

attributes disk clear readonly command

Solution 6: Edit The Registry

If the issue still persists, you should consider modifying the registry to remove the write protection from USB. The USB write.reg file could be enabled.

Click Win+R and then type regedit to open Registry Editor. Then navigate to the following location to look for a key named WriteProtect:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies

If this key exists, please right click it to select Modify to change the value from 1 to 0.

modify writeprotect key to 0

If you still get the disk is write-protected message, your best bet is to format the drive and recover files to disable this error, as shown in Solution 7.

Solution 7: Format the USB/Pen Drive/SD Card

While you look for the solutions to the issue of USB/SD card write protected on the internet, you will find formatting the USB drive, SD card or other external storage devices being mentioned.

This is considered a good method to remove write protection from USB/pen drive/SD card because the file system might have been corrupted, causing your drive to be in a bad state.

Well then, how can you format USB drive, pen drive or SD card to fix the disk is write-protected error so that your device can work properly again? Generally speaking, there are four write protected USB format tools you could use to perform this operation in Windows 10/8/7.

Note: Sometimes you can’t format a write-protected SD card/USB after booting to Windows normally; you might end up receiving the same error message saying the disk is write-protected. To avoid this, we suggest rebooting Windows with safe mode before attempting to format the write-protected USB drive.

① Run MiniTool Partition Wizard

In order to successfully format your USB drive and remove the write-protected error, you could use a third-party write protection removal software as a good helper.

Which one is worth recommending? Here we will show you MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition which is compatible with Windows 10/8/7.

It is a professional and reliable partition and disk management tool with many powerful functions, such as extend partition, resize partition, delete partition, format drive, wipe partition, rebuild MBR, recover lost partition and so on. 

You could use this freeware to remove write protection from USB drive or other devices via formatting. Now, download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition and install it on your computer.

Free Download

Follow the guide below to format your device in Windows 7/8/10:

Step 1: Launch MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.

Step 2: You will be directed to the main interface. After selecting this partition of USB flash drive or SD card, you will see the many features about partition management.

Here click Format Partition from the Partition Management drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can right-click the target drive and then select Format in Windows 7/8/10.

format write-protected USB drive with MiniTool Partition Wizard

Step 3: Choose a file system as you'd like - FAT32, NTFS, Ext2, Ext3, Ext4 or Linux Swap. Click OK to continue.

specify file system for the write-protected USB drive

Step 4: Execute this change by clicking the Apply button to remove write protection on SD card/USB flash drive.

② Use Diskpart

At your PC's desktop, press Win + R and type diskpart in the textbox. Then press Enter to run this command tool. In this window, type the following bolded commands one by one and each one should be ended by pressing the Enter key:

list volume (all volumes on hard disks in your PC will be displayed here)

select volume n (n means the volume number of your SD card, USB flash drive or other devices)

format fs=ntfs label="new volume" quick (this command can directly format your storage device to NTFS file system)

exit

Hope the following screenshot will make this operation more intuitive:

format USB drive using diskpart

③ Open Windows Explorer

In addition, you can directly open Windows Explorer, and then right-click the USB drive or SD card partition to select Format in Windows 7/8/10. Then choose a file system from the list and check the Quick Format option. Finally, click the Start button to format write-protected USB drive/SD card.

format USB drive in Windows Explorer

Tip: It is possible to get the “Windows was unable to complete the format” message. For more information about this, refer to this post for help.

④ Run Disk Management

Disk Management can also be used to format a write-protected USB drive/SD card. Right-click on the target drive and select Format to FAT32 or NTFS. Finally, click OK to perform this operation on Windows 7/8/10.

format write-protected USB drive via Disk Management

If the target partition on your USB flash drive/ micro SD card is larger than 32 GB, it can't be formatted to FAT32 with Disk Management and Windows Explorer.

In this case, please ask the third-party write protection removal software - MiniTool Partition Wizard for help; it can quickly perform formatting without any limit to fix the disk is write-protected error.

Free Download

“Here are four format tools for you to do disk formatting to remove write-protected USB/pen drive/SD card if "the disk is write-protected" error occurs when copying folders.” Click to tweet

Kindly remind:

After finish formatting in Windows 7/8/10, the write protection on a USB drive, pen drive or SD card should be removed. However, formatting the drive will cause data loss. If you had important files on the device, they are erased.

Thus, we suggest recovering those files with a professional data recovery software; MiniTool Partition Wizard can help you with its Data Recovery feature to recover data from formatted USB drive.

Buy Now

recover data from formatted USB drive

Since this solution will lead to data loss, you might be reluctant to format your USB drive just to remove the write protection error. In this case, you should consider backing up all your data using MiniTool ShadowMaker.

Summary

Here we have come to the end of this post. You should now have learned how to remove write protection from USB/pen drive/SD card in Windows 10/8/7 when you face the "disk is write-protected" error message while trying to copy files/folders.

Now, it is time for you to try the solutions above so you can start modifying the data in your storage device.

Should you have any question or suggestion, just leave a comment below or email us via [email protected]. And we will reply you as soon as possible. Thanks in advance.

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