Write protection on SD cards is a security feature to protect the data integrity of the card s contents. Since enabling hardware and software-level write protection is possible, you must check both components to disable this protection.

Sometimes, the SD card can become corrupted and automatically enter write-protection mode. This process is irreversible, and your only option is to recover as much data as possible before switching to another device.

Check Physical Switch

More giant SD cards and readers come with physical switches that write-protect the device. You will usually find it on the side of the card or the reader.

Sometimes, the cards can get locked while pushing them into the computer or the reader. So, take them out and check if it is the case. You should connect it to the computer or the reader carefully so that it does not touch the lock switch.

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Remove Software Write Protection

Windows allows the creation of a software-level write-protection on the SD card. Some apps can also write-protect the disk temporarily while performing some tasks. If power failures or crashes interrupt such processes, the card remains write-protected.

You can use the Diskpart Command-line Interface to remove such write protection.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open Run.
  2. Type diskpart and press Enter to open the Disk Partition CLI.
  3. Type the following commands and press Enter after each:
    • list disk (check the disk number of the SD card)
    • select disk # (replace # with the above disk number)
    • attributes disk clear readonly
    • exit
Note: Some malware can also write-protect your devices. You need to scan for and remove such malware using antivirus and then remove the write protection in such cases. You can also use the built-in Virus and threat protection (Windows Defender) on Windows for this purpose.

Disable Write-Protection Storage Policy from Registry

Windows includes a registry setting that enables write protection for all removable storage devices. If you enable this setting, all removable devices, including SD cards, will become write-protected even when the usual hardware or software-level write protection is Off. You need to disable it to resolve or prevent such issues.

  1. Open Run.
  2. Type regedit and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
  3. Go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies
  4. If you can t get there, the StorageDevicePolicies is not present. In this case,
    • Go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\
    • Right-click on Control and select New > Key.
    • Name it StorageDevicePolicies and press Enter.
  5. Right-click on StorageDevicePolicies and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  6. Set its name to WriteProtect and leave the value as 0.
  7. You don t need to create the WriteProtect DWORD entry if it is already there.

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Check to Write Protection Group Policy

Windows also has local group policies that impose read/write restrictions on removable storage devices. When such policies are enabled, you will get a different error message, but the behavior remains the same. You can t write to or format a removable disk.

In such cases, you need to disable such policies through the local Group Policy Editor.

  1. Open Run.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and press Enter to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Template > System > Removable Storage Access.
  4. Set all the Policies for Removable Disks and All Removable Storage to Not Configured or Disabled.
  5. You need to double-click on a policy, check Not Configured or Disabled, and click OK to change it.

Recover Data and Replace SD Card

If the SD card becomes corrupted, it will write-protect itself to protect the remaining data. The only thing you can do in this scenario is to try recovering the data inside the SD card using recovery software or with the help of data recovery specialists. After that, you must use another SD card as this one can t be repaired.