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How to delete a write protected file

Reader Ashish asks “How to delete write protected file under Linux…”

Under Linux (and other Unixsh oses) following criteria should matched before deleting a file:

Criteria # 1

To delete or remove a file you need to be owner of a file. Use ls -l command to verify your ownership:
$ ls -l filename

If you have sufficient rights, you can remove a file. Otherwise, become a superuser to remove a file.

Criteria # 2

In addition, you must have a write access to on a directory that allows you to remove or add new files. Again us ls -l or ls -ld command to get write ownership of directory.
$ ls -ld dirname

If you have sufficient rights, you can remove a file. Otherwise, become a superuser to remove a file. Use chown / chmod commands to setup permission OR run rm command as root user:
# su -
# rm -f file.txt

Criteria # 3

Make sure file is not protected using extended file system ‘i‘ attribute. A file with the ‘i‘ attribute cannot be modified, it cannot be deleted or renamed, no link can be created to this file and no data can be written to the file. Only root can add or remove ‘i‘ attribute. Use lsatter command to verify that file is not write protected using extended ‘i‘ attribute:
$ lsattr file.txt


----i------------ file.txt

Above output indicates that file.txt has i attribute set on it. Become a superuser and follow the instruction mentioned here to remove a write protected file:
# chattr -i file.txt
# rm -f file.txt

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Jeff Schroeder August 28, 2006, 2:34 pm

    Your commands are slightly incorrect. Change chattar to chattr and lsattar to lsattr.

    They stand for “CHange ATTRibute” and “LiSt ATTRibute”

  • nixCraft August 28, 2006, 3:32 pm

    Indeed :)

    Apologies for the typo.

  • Jashawn Ram January 19, 2007, 10:52 am

    sir, my sd card neither copy files from another source not deleting file from it. Kindly suggest a method to solve my problems.

  • anonymous October 2, 2007, 10:01 pm

    can u use that
    in deepfreeze
    without knowing the password

    can u delete deepfreeze just like that
    it is write protected
    and then theres password when you need to disable

    is there any other method deleting write protected file

  • khib November 29, 2007, 6:47 am

    On the Mini SD adapter, there is a lock tap you push down usually when you put your mini SD card in to it, then into the USB adapter. To turn off the write protection on your mini SD, simply do not lock your mini SD in its adapter.

  • corey aka da best May 6, 2008, 7:45 pm

    ok i had the same problem i downloaded a patch from a peer 2 peer site and it was’nt wot i wanted
    and tried to delete it but it said it was write portected so i just tried to just stuff it up as much as i could just playin round with its properties and here is wot i came up with GO INTO PROPERTIES OF THE FILE THEN CLICK ADVANCED MAKE SURE THE BOXES THAT SAY…… FILE IS READY FOR ARCIVING,……FOR FAST SEARCHING ALOW INDEXING SERVICE TO INDEX THIS FILE AND…. COMPRES FILES TO SAVE DISC SPACE .. ARE ALL UNCHECKED THEN CLICK OK THEN GO TO THE PART THAT SAYS ….READ ONLY AND TICK IT THEN PRESS OK IT SHOULD EXIT IF ANY ERRORS COME UP THEN JUST CLICK OK THEN TRY DELETEING IT IT WORKED 4 MEHOPE IT DOES 4 ALL U PPL 2 NOTE:I DONE THIS WITH A FILE NOT A FOLDER SO DONT EXPECT IT TO WORK ON FOLDRES I DONT EVEN KNOW IF IT WORKS ON ALL FILES IT JUST WORKED 4 ME AT THE TIME AND WHEN I SEARCHED HOW TO FIX IT IT DIDENT REALY GIVE ME A CLEAR ANSWER ANYWAY E MAIL ME AND TELL ME HOW U WENT at dime_megga@yaoo.com.au 1 more note remember to close all programmes that even could b useing it even shut down your torrent if u have to before u try to get rid of it ok c ya sorry bout the typos

  • Charlene June 18, 2008, 2:22 am

    Thanks! Becoming su and using the command
    rm -f filename worked. I am using an mp3
    player as a card reader to transfer files between
    computers (one Red Hat 7.2 and the other FC3),
    and I have never had this problem (not being
    able to delete a file just by clicking and
    choosing “move to trash”) before. It is very odd.
    I have not changed permissions on any of the
    devices. It is not the card reader (i.e. mp3
    player) because I had the same problem with 2
    different ones. Do old SD cards often do this?
    Mine isn’t even that old and does not get heavy
    use. Thanks again for all the useful advice.

  • phreakincool August 8, 2008, 6:52 am

    @Jashawn Ram:
    If your system has automounted the SD card, you may find that everything from its mount point down is owned by root. if you’re trying to remove or write files to the SD you’ll either have to:
    1) Do it as root.
    2) As root, change the ownership recursively on the SD to your personal account.
    EX. chown -R matt:mattgrp /the/path/to/your/SDcard

  • waseem October 7, 2008, 11:58 am

    hel me when i install any thing in memory card its become the disk is write protected remove te write protection or use another disk

  • nick December 12, 2008, 7:45 am

    how do i gain access to a file that is share protected on my other user account i forgot the password to it and i really need to get my pics from that account and i tried accessing them from my other account but it says i don’t have permission to access

  • RONAK January 14, 2009, 5:15 am

    After installing f-secure antivirus, i am not able to see any programs in remove programs also i am not able to move mr either delete anything.what should i do.

  • shankar April 11, 2009, 10:06 am

    i use ipod.in that ipod ihave write-protectional error while format the drive

    plz give me a solution

  • anil May 3, 2009, 5:07 am

    how to solve write protected peoblem

  • pro June 26, 2009, 7:15 am

    sir, i hav a sandisk sd micro sd card (1 gb), but when i connected it in to my laptop(lg-ls50), it shows- the card is write protected.for that reason i could not format or transfar or delect any files,plz tell me, what to do? to solve this type of problem.

    • Anonymous June 14, 2010, 10:21 pm

      If you check carefully the SD card adapter (If you are using a micro SD) or the Sd card itself, in the side there is a little switch (colored white or black) that enable or disable the “write-protection”, look for the word “Lock” folowed by a little arrow, move the switch and that’s it.

      • AVI August 22, 2011, 2:45 pm

        I tried everything but still can’t fix it

  • anand July 6, 2009, 3:29 pm

    Dear Pro,
    My problem is same and i have not got any solution if I, will send u

  • HILARIO November 22, 2009, 10:15 pm


    • faruk July 20, 2011, 9:05 am


  • Mr. Pinzón March 24, 2010, 6:36 pm

    Gracias por la información
    en realidad pude resolver mi problema


  • Ashok November 24, 2011, 2:44 am

    i want remove write protection from USB pen drive, pls sujjest me about write protection
    I have so many time try for removing the write protection but no result from site

  • Pranay Chakma January 26, 2012, 6:30 pm

    sir, i’m using a ”king stone” pendrive and a ”card reader” with ”memory” card. from last 3 days both have been showing write protection disc. i can copy from any pen drive or memori card but couldn’t send any item to any pendrive or memorycard. when i’m going to send any contents it shows a write protection disc… sir, i’ll be highly thankful if you kindly reply my coments as quickly as possible….
    thanking you……..

  • Gurunath December 24, 2012, 4:36 am

    Hey Friend,
    I have the same problem of write protection when ever I try to add file or remove files the system is showing that it is a “Read Only File System” Please help me with this I tried with chmod and chown but both of them are not worling .

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