Fix A Permanently Locked SD Card With Scotch Tape

Fix A Permanently Locked SD Card With Scotch Tape

We use SD cards for all sorts of devices these days, but the little lock mechanisms on the sides can break so darn easily. Here’s how to fix an SD card with a broken switch, using nothing but a bit of tape.

Whether the switch on your SD card has completely broken off or whether it’s just flimsy (mine locks itself every time I put it into a slot), it can render a card pretty much useless by making it unwritable. Just like the VCR tapes of yore, however, you can buck the system with a bit of Scotch tape. Just stick it over the switch, and it will trick the reader into thinking the SD card is unlocked. Check out the video above for a demonstration, and let us know in the comments if you’ve been able to salvage any old SD cards this way. Video by cnwaddell.


  • I don’t know exactly what mechanism checks for the present/absence of the write protect notch, but if it’s optical, you might want to choose your tape wisely. Reminds me of a story an old comp-sci professor told us about 5 1/4 (or perhaps it was 8?) inch floppies – the write protect tab was specified as metal, but some manufacturers used a plastic tab. Problem was, the device which checked the notch was IR, and the plastic these manufacturers used was transparent to IR (despite being black in the visible spectrum). Hilarity ensued as thousands of people’s discs were overwritten.

    • If its anything like the 3.5″ disk and VHS tapes, it would be a simple dip switch, when the plastic toggle is moved into the write position, on insertion it causes the switch lever to be pushed down. 5.25 and 8s as i recall used a sticker to enable write protect.

  • A friend left camera with a shop to print off the SD. Next she was not able take anymore photos etc and shop said new card was needed. I checked and card was Locked. Now how did that happen?

  • I had this issue about a year ago when a switch on an SD card became so loose it would switch to the locked position when I put it into my camera.

    Performed a similar thing, and it works quite well. Only downside is that on some tighter SD Card readers it takes a little extra force to take in and out (especially those spring load readers).

    Would highly recommend, however ask yourself this: Hmmm, I can fix or I can go buy a 16 GB SD card for about $40 dollars.

  • Reminds me of the trick of turning low density 3.5-inch(720KB) floppy disks to high density (1440KB) disks by drilling a hole in the right spot on the plastic casing then reformatting.

  • Yeah, doesn’t work consistently. Probably depends on the technology used to read the “locked” or “unlocked” position of the little tab. Using clear tape didn’t work for me, and neither did it work when I blacked out the tape with a permanent marker. This was on a camera, not a PC. A video on YouTube suggests blocking half the tab position with a thickish piece of cardboard folded to the depth of the tab. Haven’t tried it yet but it sounds more likely to work consistently.

    • Hi xmfclick

      I tried doing that “blocking half the tab position” thing, not with a piece of cardboard, but with a rolled masking tape. I tried doing it with a piece of masking tape alone, but it didn’t work. But with the rolled tape, finished with another layer of tape to secure it in place, it worked! Darn. Thanks for the heads up!

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