I've been storing some files on a MicroSD formatted to ext4 that I connect via USB. I tried to move a directory in it to an external hard drive, and I got

mv: error reading ‘/mnt/sd/Directory/xyz.mp3’: Input/output error.

I tried to chmod -R 777 the mount point of the sd (as root), and I got

chmod: changing permissions of ‘sd/Directory/xyz.mp3’: Read-only file system.

I never did anything to make the filesystem read-only, and I've had no trouble with it before. The only thing that I can think of that's changed is the SD is usually /dev/sdb1, and it was /dev/sdc1 this time.

Running Arch Linux in Virtualbox on a Windows 7 host.

  • 1
    This is probably the first sign that the SD card is dying. You can try to zero out the drive and try again. Keep an eye on the syslog. If the IO errors occur again, I wouldn't trust the card anymore and rather buy a new one.
    – Marco
    Jun 13 '13 at 17:12
  • @Marco - not necessarily. I've had problems before with USB storage devices becoming read-only for a variety of reasons. Often times a reboot would fix the issue, which seemed to be with either the software mounting it or an underlying driver.
    – slm
    Jun 13 '13 at 17:41
  • can you share dmesg logs.
    – Raza
    Jun 13 '13 at 19:46

The default action of any mounted device when getting a serious I/O error, unless changed at mount time, is to drop out from its normal R/W mode to Read ONLY mode. It does this to allow you to attempt to access what you are doing and also to prevent any further serious damage to the device filesystem formatting.

You can check your logs to detemine what the error specifically is usually.


You're confusing cause and effect.

The filesystem was most likely mounted Read Only because of the I/O error.

If you look at the kernel log (either via dmesg or journalctl -k you'll probably see something along the lines of error on /dev/whatever, mounting read-only.

Your best bet is to try to copy everything off that drive to a safe backup and then reboot -- and if the disk turns out to be permanently hosed, which isn't unlikely at this point, replace it and restore from backup.

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