How to Remove Write Protection from USB Drives & SD Cards

If you’re having problems copying files to the drive in Windows, can’t delete files, or are facing action or dash cams that refuse to work with the microSD card, it’s possible that the memory is protected against write the.

Some USB drives and SD cards (but not microSD cards) have a physical switch that allows you to ‘lock’ the drive to prevent any files from being accidentally overwritten or wiped.

Sometimes these switches are accidentally moved to the locked position, so look for the switch on your drive/card and make sure it’s not in the locked position.

You’ll still be able to view files on a locked storage device like this (since the device is basically read-only) but you won’t be able to delete them or add any new files.

If this is not the problem, there are three ways – below – that can help get your drive working properly.

Also, if you’re having issues with the SD card, try using a different card reader if you have one available, or insert it into another device.

However, there is still a chance that your card or drive is damaged or corrupted. The only option in this case is to buy a new drive. Here are the microSD cards we recommend and the best USB drives.

And if you’re just trying to get your lost data back, read our step-by-step guide on how to recover deleted files for free.

Remove write protection with Regedit

In any version of Windows, run Regedit.exe.

If you’re not sure how to find it, searching for ‘regedit’ in the Start menu will usually bring up Registry Editor at the top of the list.

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It’s a bit like File Explorer, so use the left pane to navigate to the following key:


Note: if you can’t find StorageDevicePolicies, see next step.

Double-click the WriteProtect value in the right pane. Now you can change the Value data from 1 to 0. Then click OK to save the changes. Close Regedit and restart your computer. Reconnect your USB drive and luckily you will find it is no longer write protected.

You can now continue using the drive, but you should copy any files you want to keep and then format it by right-clicking it in the list of drives in File Explorer and choosing Format. form.

StorageDevicePolicies is missing

StorageDevicePolicies is missing

If you can’t find the StorageDevicePolicies you can create it by right clicking on a space in the ‘Control’ folder and selecting New > Key and entering a name StorageDevicePolicies.

Now double click on the new key (it will show up as a folder) and right click again on the space and choose New -> DWORD. Name it WriteProtect and set its value to 0. Click OK, exit Regedit and restart your computer.

If this method doesn’t work, move on to the next step.

Turn off write protection using Diskpart

Turn off write protection using Diskpart

With the USB drive or memory stick attached to the computer, launch a command prompt. You can do this by searching for cmd.exe or ‘Command Prompt’ in the Start menu.

Note: you may need to run cmd.exe with administrator privileges if you see an “access denied” message. To do this, right-click Command Prompt in the Start menu and select ‘Run as administrator’ from the menu that appears.

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If you have Windows 10, just right-click the Start button (lower left of the screen) and select Command Prompt (admin).

Now, at the prompt, type the following and press Enter after each command:

  1. diskpart
  2. disc list
  3. select disk x (where x is the number of your inactive drives – use space to find out which drive it is) disk clear readonly property
  4. cleaning
  5. create primary partition
  6. format fs = fat32 (you can swap fat32 for ntfs if you just need to use the drive with a Windows computer)
  7. exit

Now open File Explorer, navigate to your drive and try to copy files to it or delete existing files. If it doesn’t work, that’s bad news and it’s possible that your memory card or memory card is damaged. But the good news is that storage is cheap, so you can replace a USB flash drive or SD card for a small amount of money.

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