Fixing the "Memory Card Write Protected" Error

Memory Card Write protection switches make it possible to prevent the memory card from being erased or wiped. Not all types of memory cards will feature these; SD and Memory Sticks often include the write protect switch.

Step 1: Check the Switch

SD Cards have a physical switch on the side of them which sets the write protection of the card. If the write protect switch is in the locked position, then it will not be possible to write to the card. It will, however, be possible to read the photographs from the card if they are already there.

Mini and Micro SD cards do not feature a switch, however, when they are placed in the SD card adaptor to fit into your computer, there is a lock switch. Some people mistakenly believe that this is to lock the card in position, however, this is actually a write protect switch. When using the adapter, you shouldn't touch the switch.

Step 2: Repair the Switch

Sometimes the switch can break off the memory card, which will leave the card in a locked position. This will mean that you won't be able to unlock the card because there's no switch. If this is the case, then it's fairly easy to repair the switch.

The switch itself does not do anything inside the card; it is simply a piece of plastic which hits a switch inside the camera or reader. This means that it works in exactly the same way as the switch on an old 3.5" floppy disk, or the tabs on a VHS tape.

Repair the switch by simply sticking a piece of tape over the correct section of the switch. Once this is fixed in place, the switch will be depressed correctly. This will mean that the switch is no longer write protected and it will be possible to write photos to it once again.

Step 3: Remove Protection

It's also possible to protect individual files on your camera's memory card by selecting an option in your camera's menus. This protection will need to be removed before the individual files can be removed or adjusted.

If you're not sure how to do this, look through the instruction manual of your computer.

Step 4: Format Card

If you are having problems removing the memory cards write protection, but have already adjusted the physical switch, then another option is to format the card. Put the card in your computer and format it to Fat-16 or Fat-32, depending on your camera.

Step 5: Dealing with Other Types of Card

There are also other types of memory card which support write protection. These will all work in similar ways, although not all of them use a switch. With memory sticks, for example, there is a switch on the underside of the card. This is a more substantial switch which will lock the contents of the drive.

XD and Smart Media memory cards feature a sticker, and covering a specific area of the card with the sticker will write protect it and prevent anyone from writing to it. Some types of XD card might also feature a writer protect switch.

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