How to Fix: WD My Book Read Only (Remove Write Protect)

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Larry O. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I don't know what's going on but all my files on my external western digital 'My Book' are marked as 'READ ONLY'. I have tried formatting the My Book drive using File Explorer, but it tells me the drive is write protected. I have looked but there is no tab or switch on the USB drive to unlock or disable the write protect. I have also tried formatting the drive with Windows Disk Management but it fails. Also, if I right click the drive partition in Disk Management, the delete option is missing. I am at a complete loss. I have searched for 'wd my book read only remove write protect' in Google but I can't seem to find the answer. Can you please help? "

My response:

I asked Larry if he would like me to connect to his system to have a closer look using my remote desktop support service, and he agreed.

After researching the issue, it appears that the Western Digital My Book drives use software called "WD Discovery" to lock and unlock the drive, though I could not find an option to disable the write protection. From all the articles I came across, the write protect / read only issue appears to be a widespread problem that happens to users randomly, for no apparent reason.

I came across a few posts that suggested third party 'usb unlock freeware utilities' could unlock the My Book drive, but this did not work. I also tried a registry fix to unlock usb write protected drives. After more research I discovered it is possible to unlock the partition using the 'diskpart' utility using the command line.

Below I'll explain what I did to fix the issue.

How to Fix: WD My Book Read Only (Remove Write Protect)

  1. As I mentioned there is no write protect switch or tab on the device, so this means the My Book drive was write protected through software or firmware (though as I mentioned, I'm not sure how it was done in the first place). To remove the write protect, begin by launching an administrative command line; to do so: click Start, then type in "CMD" (no quotes); wait for "CMD.EXE" or "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then right click and select "Run as Administrator".
  2. A black administrative command prompt window should now appear. If you have any other external drives plugged in, unplug them except for the one that is write protected. Next, type in the following into the command line (press Enter after each line) - I'll explain what each command does further down:

    list disk
    select disk X
    attributes disk clear readonly

    Click here to see a picture of everything I just said so you can see what it looks like on the command line.

    And, here is an explanation of what is happening:

    The 'diskpart' command launches the disk partitioning program via the command line; the "list disks" command then shows all disks attached to the system. 'Select disk X' tells diskpart to select the desired disk (the one which is write protected), where x is the disk number of the device; the 'attributes disk clear readonly' command removes the write protection from the drive that you selected using the 'select disk X' command. When complete, type in 'exit' to exit the diskpart utility.
  3. At this point you should be able to format the drive and/or erase files.

    Tip: if you are not sure which disk number you should be selecting you can also launch Disk Management to view disk numbers graphically rather than by the command line. To do so, click Start, then type in "diskmgmt.msc" (no quotes); wait for "diskmgmt.msc" or "Disk Management" to appear in the list and click it. When the Disk Management window appears, scroll through the list and look on the left side of the partition layout to determine which disk number is your My Book drive (the one that is write protected / read only).

I hope that helps!

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head, or if you are still having issues unlocking a Western Digital My Book drive that has somehow made itself read only / with write protection, you are welcome to contact me for remote desktop support and I will fix it for you. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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Average: 4.8 (22 votes)


Boegies's picture

My question if we use diskpart for unlock write protect, whether the stored data will be lost?

Dennis Faas's picture

Data will not be lost when you remove the write protect. As a precaution you can backup the drive prior.

Paul_Münch's picture

This saved me a headache in Windows 10 and a disassembled My Cloud Home.

Muchas gracias.

layinlo_usmc's picture

I believe the solution is correct, BUT it isnt working for me, unfortunately. I'm comfortable using command line interface so I went in with elevated permissions. Started DISKPART. followed until the attribute change. I consistently get two results. The first being DISKPART crashes. The second is the response 'DISKPART failed to clear disk attributes.' Thank you for the well written and easy to follow instructions but sadly, they did not work for me. Great site btw, I have it bookmarked for future reference.



Fish1552's picture

I've been having this issue for a few months and copied everything over to my NAS and had planned on usingthe WD software to format. Of course, the day I went to use it I found out it's end of life was about 3 days prior and you could no longer download and use it. So I used this method and now I don't need to format the entire thing just to clean it up. I can also now sync files between the 2 drives for safe keeping for when 1 of the 2 eventually fails (which is why I now have 2 backups after a previous drive failed years ago and I lost important files I can't upload to the cloud).
You saved me spending more $ for another drive + the price of a few rounds of 00 buckshot to destroy the platters. :)

vargascelsoguaju_16075's picture

Like you, I was also struggling to unlock my external HD. And, like you, the many apps I tried couldn't access, format or manage partitions.
After a long and arduous journey, I had finally managed to crack the drive's password, but the second problem remained: removing the write protection. In your article, I found what I was looking for. With your excellent explanations, I solved the problem in less than 2 minutes. So I created an account and from now on, I will always visit your website before venturing into other channels. I am deeply moved and thank you and now I'm going to rest, because I spent the last four days sleeping little because of this painful undertaking. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much for your willingness to share your precious knowledge. A big hug!

P.S.: forgive me for my bad English, but I am Brazilian and speak your language very little.

saskgirllovestofish_16472's picture

Thank you Dennis. I had installed the WD Discovery software for my WD Mybook drive and added a password with that to secure my drive. But after I had wiped my PC and reloaded my Windows 11 os, even after I had removed the password from the drive it was stuck in Read-Only. The Western Digital support gave only options for Mac os users and a quick google search resulted in solutions for the same.
Not currently working in the industry but have been a pc tech for over 30 years. Finding and executing a solution should have been easy peasy lemon squeezy and it was really starting to annoy me that it was eluding me.
During a google search I came across this article and have finally got the read-only removed from my WD Mybook external drive and absolutely no problems with data loss which was perfect since my 4tb drive was nearly full and I would not have been happy to have lost all those files.
Thanks again, great of you to share your knowledge.