Written byAmanda Wong
How to Unlock SD Card and Remove Write Protection from MicroSD Card?
Summary: This post introduces 9 useful ways to unlock a micro SD card or SD card write protected. With these fixes, you can access data or format write protected SanDisk, Samsung, or Transcend SD cards.
Write protection on your SD card in the first place is a way to protect your files from accident deletion or disk erasure. When you need to write to or format an SD card or Micro SD card that is write-protected, you would get an error message saying "The disk is write protected" on Windows PC, "Memory card locked" on cameras, and "read-only" on Mac.
In order to make the SD card writable, you need to remove write protection from SD card. In this post, you will learn 9 ways to unlock an SD card:
- 1. Unlock SD card by sliding up the physical SD card lock
- 2. Clean SD card's metal connectors
- 3. Disable write protection on SD card by third-party software
- 4. Use NTFS for Mac driver to solve read-only SD card issue
- 5. Clear read-only attributes on SD card
- 6. Edit Windows Registry to fix SD card write protected
- 7. Repair corrupted file system that prevents write permission
- 8. Recover data and reformat write protected SD card
- 9. Replace with a new SD card
Unlock SD card by sliding up the physical SD card lock
Basically, all SD standard cards have a physical write protection switch that can be toggled up to disable write protection on SD card. Hence, when an SD card is write protected, the first thing to check is the physical lock position.
How to unlock SD card:
- 1. Locate the Lock switch on your standard SD card, or find the lock on the SD card adapter containing a micro SD card.
- 2. Slide the SD card Lock switch up to the unlock position (like the picture below) to remove SD card physical write protection.
- 3. Reinsert the SD card (or SD card adapter loaded with the micro SD card) to your device or attach to a computer through an SD card reader. Then the SD card should be unlocked.
If you find the SD card unlocked but still write protected, it could be a bad connection that prevents you from writing to the SD card.
Clean SD card's metal connectors
For an SD card or micro SD card write protected but not locked, take a close look at the metal chips on an SD card or micro SD card. They are supposed to connect to a digital device that should be flat, clean, and dry. If the SD card's metal contacts are dusty, oily, or covered with an oxidized layer, it might be "protected" from writing.
Use a piece of soft and dry cloth and wipe the connectors gently or clean it with a piece of cotton moistened with alcohol if they are oily. Also, you can use an eraser to get rid of that oxidized layer or stains.
If the metal connectors are scratched or flaked off, there is no need to remove write protection but to replace the entire SD card.
After checking the lock and connectors, you still find the memory card not writable? Try the following solutions then.
Disable write protection on SD card by third-party software
Standard SD cards or micro SD cards could be protected by password using mobile devices or third-party software from unwanted data modification. In this case, you need to recall if you have locked your SD card with an encryption tool (such as SanDisk Secure Access) or any write protection software.
If so, remove write protection from SD card with the correct password using that specific software.
Use NTFS for Mac driver to solve read-only SD card issue
This is a particular situation that happens to SD card write protected on Mac. Even though a memory card is mostly formatted with exFAT or FAT32 for universal compatibility, sometimes people would prefer to use NTFS format on Windows computers.
Since the NTFS file system is read-exclusive on Mac, the SD card will be read only and you can't write to the SD card. In this case, an NTFS for Mac driver helps you remove write protection from SD card with NTFS format on Mac easily.
iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is a small menu bar utility running in the background to help you have full access to Microsoft NTFS external storage devices. It works on macOS 12 - 10.13 and supports both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs.
Clear read-only attributes on SD card
In some cases, the SD card is write protected as only read permission is allowed. Such digital write protection could be removed using Diskpart on Windows 10/8/7. In macOS, the administrator may set up a read-only privilege to this SD card, you need to take over the admin right to edit the privilege.
So, if you are using a PC, make sure you are the administrator and carefully follow these steps:
- Click the Windows logo or Start in the bottom-left corner of your desktop.
- Type in: command prompt for search and run Command Prompt as an administrator from the results.
- Type in: diskpart into Command Prompt followed by pressing the Enter key.
- After allowing it to make changes, type in: list disk and press Enter.
- Locate your SD card according to the disk information and remember its disk number.
- Type in: select disk number and replace "number" with your SD card's disk number, then press Enter key.
- Type in: attributes disk clear readonly and press Enter.
Your SD memory card won't have the write protected error after you see the "Disk attributes cleared successfully" message in the prompt window.
If you are using a Mac, you need to follow these steps to remove write protection from SD card:
- Right-click the SD card icon on the desktop or in Disk Utility and select Get info.
- Scroll down to find Sharing & Permissions.
- Click the yellow lock to make changes and enter your admin password.
- Select your user name and change from Read Only to Read & Write.
- Click the yellow lock again to save the change.
If the write protection still can't be removed after read-only permission is disabled, you may need to go deep to modify the Windows registry to turn off write protection on SD card.
Edit Windows Registry to fix SD card write protected
Be careful when you are editing Windows Registry. Back up your memory card first.
- Keep your SD card connected to the Windows computer.
- Use Windows + R together to open the Run window.
- Type in regedit and press Enter to open Registry Editor.
- Expand the folder in the left panel as the following path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies. If you don't see the StorageDevicePolicies folder, right-click Control folder and select New > Key to create a new key called StorageDevicePolicies.
- Right-click the StorageDevicePolicies folder and click New > DWORD (32-bit) Value to create a new value named WiteProtect.
- Double-click the WriteProtect key in the right window and set its value data as 0 and click OK.
Close Registry Editor, disconnect the SD card, and restart your PC.
If all attempts above don't help remove write protection from micro SD card or SD card, you need to check if the device's file system is corrupted.
Repair corrupted file system that prevents write permission
It's possible that you can't write to the SD card because parts of your SD card (that are related to writing permission) are corrupted. Then, you'll need to repair such corruption to regain write access to this SD card.
On your Windows PC:
- On your Windows PC, find your SD card in File Explorer and right-click on it.
- Choose Properties in the context menu.
- Choose Tools and then click on the Check button.
Such an SD card repairing process could also be completed with Mac's First Aid. Once the error scanning and repairing process completes, you can reinsert your SD card to your device and access it again.
If the write-protected SD card error can't be repaired, you need to recover data from the corrupted SD card and then format the SD card to make it work again.
Recover data and reformat write protected SD card
Formatting an SD card or micro SD card will force remove write protection caused by a corrupted file system. Before you reformat write protected SD card, do remember to back up your important files by recovering them from the corrupted SD card using reliable data recovery software.
After files are recovered, go ahead to format SD card with free tools.
Replace with a new SD card
If the SD card still can't work right, you may have to get a new SD card for your device.
After successfully removing write protection from SD card, you'll be able to take new pictures using the SD card in cameras, transfer files from computers to the SD card, and do any operations to this SD card including formatting.