How to set and remove write protection from a storage media (SD card, Hard disk, Flash drive etc)

How to remove write protection from a storage media (SD card, Hard disk, Flash drive etc)

In our previous articles about USB storage devices, we focused mainly on recovering corrupted files (see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-recover-corrupted-files-lost-files-from-corrupt-or-accidentally-formatted-usb-devices/ ) and fixing corrupted USB storage devices (see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-fix-repair-corrupt-memory-card-sd-card-or-usb-drive/ ) . This time around, we’ll look at a rather interesting security feature for USB storage devices called Write Protection.

What is Write Protection of storage media?

Write protection is a security measure implemented on storage devices mostly aimed at preventing data alteration, corruption or deletion. Storage devices work using Input/Output or Read/Write processes. When a storage device becomes write protected, it can only be read from, not written to.

What are the benefits of write protection?

Write protection protects the files on the storage media from corruption, alteration or deletion without adequate permissions; however, this could sometime backfire if the process goes rogue.

How do I setup write protection on storage media?

  • Connect the affected storage device to PC
  • Open My Computer
  • Click Local Disk (mostly C:) where Windows is installed
  • Open the Windows folder
  • Launch regedit.exe
  • A faster method is to press the Windows button or Start menu then search for regedit.exe
  • Navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\StorageDevicePolicies
  • If you can’t locate StorageDevicePolicies then you will need to create this folder
  • Right-click on Control and click on New > Key.
  • Name this StorageDevicePolicies
  • Right-click on the new folder you created called StorageDevicePolicies and click New > DWORD Value.
  • Name this WriteProtect
  • Double-click on Write Protect
  • Change the Value Data to 0
  • Click OK
  • Close the Registry Editor and insert the memory stick into your computer

Are there any disadvantages of setting write protection on storage media?

I wouldn’t really say there’s a disadvantage if the storage device is intentionally write protected because removing it should be just as easy. The write protection process could however go haywire , especially when initiated by unwanted factors. In such cases, you’ll be unable to add or  delete files from the storage device.

I don’t remember setting write protection on my storage device, where did it come from?

Accidental write protection could be as a result of:

  • Interruption of Read/Write processes: Pulling out the storage device during use or not making use of the eject / safely remove function could result in this
  • Virus / Malware: The PC / storage device might have been infected by Virus / Malware
  • Hardware damage: The storage device might have developed a faulty hardware
  • No more storage space: If the external storage device is filled up, it might enter write protection mode
  • File(s) are set to read only: Its possible that some files on the storage device are set to read only

How do I remove write protection on storage media ?

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Some Techniques you could apply are:

1. Disable the Write Protection switch: If you’re making use of a lockable Memory card reader or Flash drive then check the sides, you should see a movable switch (write protector). Try changing the position then insert the card reader into the PC again. Ensure it doesn’t shift while inserting into the PC’s card reader / USB slot. Try changing the memory card reader too.

2. Edit Registry to delete  the StorageDevicePolicies sub-keyThe Windows Registry is a database that stores settings and options for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains information and settings for hardware, operating system software, most non-operating system software, and per-user settings. The registry also provides a window into the operation of the kernel, exposing runtime information such as performance counters and currently active hardware.

To open Registry Editor:

  • Connect the affected storage device to PC
  • Open My Computer
  •  Click Local Disk (mostly C:) where Windows is installed
  • Open the Windows folder
  • Launch regedit.exe
  • A faster method is to press the Windows button or Start menu then search for regedit.exe
  •  Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control
  •  If sub-key StorageDevicePolicies exists then delete this sub-key

3. Grant adequate permissions: To grant permission;

  • Run regedit
  • Click on Edit at the top
  • Select Permissions
  • Highlight the user account you’re currently logged into from the list
  • Make sure read and full control are checked for permissions for the highlighted user account
  • Click Apply then Ok
  • Disconnect the USB storage device then reconnect it
  • Write protection should now be removed

4. Adjust the Memory chip contacts: If the memory chip is experiencing a mechanical issue, loosen up the storage device and locate the memory chip. move aside any component shorting against it then reconnect the storage device to PC.

5. Reset the Controller of the storage device: Format the USB storage device using HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool to reset the controller of the storage device

6. Install a powerful Antivirus: Ensure to install a powerful Antivirus like Norton Internet Security, update it then scan the storage device and PC.

7. Format under Disk Management: To do this;

  • Right-click on My Computer
  • Click Manage
  • Click on Disk Management
  • Right-click on the storage device
  • Select Format
  • A new pop-up will appear, showing the available formatting options
  • From the drop-down menu, select FAT32
  • Check the Quick Format option
  • Click OK to finish

8. Disable read only mode on files: Open every folder and check the files at random to be sure they’re not set to read only (you could try deleting one file at a time). To remove read only mode on a file;

  • Right-click on the file that you’re trying to write to
  • Click on Properties
  • You’ll see some options at the bottom of this window and one of them is Read-only
  • Make sure this box is unchecked and then click on the Apply button
  • You should now be able to write to this file.

9. Use Diskpart: Diskpart is a disk-partitioning tool that is built into Windows and is accessible through the Command Line Utility. To use it

  • Press Windows button or Start menu
  • Search for cmd
  • Right-click and run as Administrator
  • In command prompt, type list disk
  • Press Enter
  • You should see a list of available disks
  • Take note of the disk number of the write protected storage device (you can tell from the size)
  • Assuming your disk number is 1 type select disk 1
  • Press Enter
  • Type attributes disk clear readonly
  • Press Enter
  • Type clean
  • Press Enter
  • Type create partition primary
  • Press Enter
  • Type format fs=fat32
  • Press Enter
  • Type exit
  • Press Enter
  • Write protection should now be removed

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