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Write protection is the term used to denote the locking mechanism which prevents modification or deletion of data on a storage device. Write protection can be enforced using either software or hardware, although the latter is more predominantly used. Write protection helps in the preventing accidental and intentional data modification and also helps protect against virus attacks.
Write protection forces a disk or a file to act in the read-only mode. The file or disk cannot be appended, modified or deleted with write protection on. An operating system recognizes write-protected storage devices and provides error messages in the case of a modification or deletion request. Write protection on storage devices are usually through the use of switches like in the case of diskettes, where a small notch is provided which acts as the switch for turning on or off the write protection. Most operating systems also provide commands to provide write protection to files. These commands and other shortcuts mostly make entries in the registry files to enable the write protection to the files or devices.
Write protection can be disabled in many ways, such as toggling a physical switch or by altering the settings in the software or operating system. It is often recommended not to alter the settings, as they have the potential to corrupt the whole storage device, resulting in a need to reformat all the data and device for usage.