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  1. #1
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    "Problem ejecting USB mass storage device" (or so says Win7)

    I've noticed a problem lately when backing up my W7 computer. I plug in my 1TB external HDD, get everything backed up, then click the icon in the tray to allow me to safely "Eject USB mass storage device" (i.e., my HDD). No matter which external 1TB HDD I use (and, if memory serves me, on some 4GB flash drives as well), I now get the following warning:

    Problem ejecting mass storage device.png

    I carefully close any programs that (I think) could have even the remotest reason to keep the HDD active, but no luck. I still get this message, so I end up having to shut down, remove the HDD, and reboot, which is profoundly annoying and inconvenient.

    Any thoughts on what's causing this and how to cure it will be much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Last edited by HealingHands33; 2013-01-19 at 17:16.
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  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I do not know what your problem might be, but for my 1 Tb Ext HD, I just unplug it. I do not bother trying to eject it. I realize that Flash Drives should be ejected, but I have not found this to be the case with Ext HDs.
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  3. #3
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    Hi, Ted,

    Thanks for your reply. I confess to having unplugged flash drives in frustration in the past when Windows wouldn't give me permission to do so, and to be honest, I haven't yet noticed any ill effects from doing so. However, the instruction sheet for this new 1TB external HDD specifically instructs the user to click on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon, select the "USB mass storage device," then wait for the "Safe to remove hardware" message.

    After checking to make sure that the Status LED was not flashing, I just tried removing the HDD despite the warning message. Nothing noticeable happened, so I plugged the HDD back in, then tried the usual method of clicking on the "Safely Remove Hardware" message, etc., and it worked perfectly, this time telling me it was OK to safely remove the hardware.

    I've also noticed this sort of thing before when I couldn't make the "Problem ejecting USB mass storage device" warning go away and just pulled out USB flash drives. If I plugged them right back in, I could then remove them by the approved method and it would work correctly. It appears that if I try to remove a drive after I use any programs (or perhaps some specific program?), W7 then develops this attitude problem and doesn't want to let the drive go.

    For the time being, at least, I can ignore the warnings when I need to remove the HDD, as doing so doesn't seem to cause any issues, but that still doesn't solve the original problem, so if anyone has a solution to this W7 annoyance, I'd love to know it.

    Thanks again for your post.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
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  5. #4
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Al,

    This How-to-Geek article may explain what it is all about.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

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    HealingHands33 (2012-12-01)

  7. #5
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    Hi, RG,

    Thanks for the link to an interesting and informative article. The take-home message I got out of it was that while Windows is set by default to allow you to remove a USB drive without necessarily going through the "Safely Remove Hardware" protocol, you still run a risk if you do that, so it's best to always use the "SRH" protocol. Fair enough, but I'm still not sure why W7 is refusing to let go of a USB drive when I've killed every available app that I think can have even the slightest connection with it. Just for grins, I tried using the same 1 TB external HDD in another desktop and a laptop, both running Win XP/SP3, and both of those machines properly released the drive when I clicked on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon.

    Until I can find out what's causing this odd behavior with W7 not releasing USB drives, I'll spend some time playing with a little program that was mentioned in the comments section at the bottom of the article you linked to. The comment author says:

    Just use USB Disk Ejector. Its free and easy to use.

    http://quick.mixnmojo.com/software/usb-disk-ejector

    It seems from its description to be an interesting program that could potentially be a workaround, but even if it successfully achieves that, that still doesn't explain what's happening with W7 and how to actually resolve the problem.

    Thanks again for a helpful post.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Last edited by HealingHands33; 2012-12-01 at 16:26.
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  8. #6
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    In Windows Explorer, right-click on the USB drive and select "Eject". Windows Explorer is the most likely culprit to be still using the drive, and ejecting it through Explorer should release it without difficulty
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
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  9. #7
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Al,

    This is one of those "d...m computer" problems. I have several USB Thumb drives. Some will eject with the Icon some won't. One will eject on my machine but not the machine in our HOA office! Go Figure...
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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  10. #8
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    In Windows Explorer, right-click on the USB drive and select "Eject". Windows Explorer is the most likely culprit to be still using the drive, and ejecting it through Explorer should release it without difficulty
    Hi, bbearren,

    I'll try that next time, but in my desperate search for a way to get W7 to let go of the USB Ext. HDD I made sure to close all Windows Explorer windows that were open, figuring that that would eliminate any connection there, but it still didn't work. Next time it happens, I'll try using your method and see if I have any better luck.

    Thanks for your post. If your method works when the standard W7 method doesn't, I'll be sure to post back.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
    Windows XP/Media Edition, SP3 on Dell laptop
    Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit, SP1 on HP Mini 5103
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  11. #9
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    Hi, RG,

    I know, I've had that same thing happen to me, where one thumb drive will eject perfectly and the other - even the same make and model! - will not. In this case, it was a 1TB USB HDD that W7 wouldn't let go of, but XP ejected it perfectly on two different machines. As you said, "Go figure!"

    However, as an aside, I can't help wondering if this problem is even remotely related to another problem I recently posted about, in which W7 wouldn't let me save, move, or delete certain PDF files or recognize my Administrator privileges:

    http://windowssecrets.com/forums/sho...tor-privileges

    I've generally been pretty pleased with W7 as an OS, but I wonder if there might be a link between these two issues, as in each case W7 is being a possessive little bugger and won't give up control, whether of a USB drive or of a PDF file. Who knows, I may be stretching a point here and the two issues may be totally unrelated, but I thought I'd throw the thought out there in case somebody smarter than I am can find anything of value in that idea.

    Thanks again for your helpful posts.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Last edited by HealingHands33; 2012-12-01 at 16:28.
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  12. #10
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    If you really want to take the time, I think you could troubleshoot this with Process Explorer, a free utility. I only use it rarely and I have to re-learn it every time, and there is a learning curve. Lots of tutorials online. But I think it could help you locate the process that is running and not letting go. Or alternately, you try using Task Manager. Open it up when the drive is not plugged in, and look at the list of processes (be sure to click Show processes from all users). Then see if any new processes start up when you plug in the drive. And then end task them before trying SRH.

  13. #11
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    Something in this search may help https://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp...w=1280&bih=653

  14. #12
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    Hi, Vincenzo,

    Many thanks for your suggestions. Unfortunately, I think the key phrase in what you said is "If you really want to take the time." If I had endless time to troubleshoot this, it would probably be an interesting exercise, but I already have more on my plate to do than I can say grace over, so I don't need any other big projects to tackle. Besides, when I clicked on the link in your second post, I got the distinct impression that this is a fairly common problem. If that's true, instead of thousands or millions of Windows users having to troubleshoot the same problem all around the world, I think it really should be Micro$oft who troubleshoots this, perhaps by getting a couple of their whiz-bang programming geniuses to get the "Safely Remove Hardware" to work correctly by automatically checking into what the hangup is, then notifying the user of the specific problem so that the user can act appropriately to resolve the issue.

    So far, in the couple of times this problem has happened since bbearren's post (#6), I've found that using that method (right-clicking on the drive in Windows Explorer and clicking Eject) has resolved the issue. It's too soon to know if it's the magic cure for every such occurrence, but so far it certainly appears to help.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Last edited by HealingHands33; 2012-12-02 at 02:37.
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  15. #13
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    Hi, All,

    In Windows Explorer, right-click on the USB drive and select "Eject". Windows Explorer is the most likely culprit to be still using the drive, and ejecting it through Explorer should release it without difficulty

    Hi, bbearren,

    I'll try that next time, but in my desperate search for a way to get W7 to let go of the USB Ext. HDD I made sure to close all Windows Explorer windows that were open, figuring that that would eliminate any connection there, but it still didn't work. Next time it happens, I'll try using your method and see if I have any better luck.

    Thanks for your post. If your method works when the standard W7 method doesn't, I'll be sure to post back.
    Well, I've just had a chance to put that method to the test again on my external USB drive. I backed up my computer onto my 1TB external HDD, then clicked on "Safely Remove Hardware," but got the error message (see screenshot in Post #1) saying that W7 wouldn't let go of my HDD because it was in use by another program. I then went into Windows Explorer and right-clicked on that HDD, but did not get an "Eject" option to click on; not sure why. As a result, since I couldn't release the HDD through either the SRH or Eject options, I shut down the computer so I could remove the drive. It's frustrating, so any other thoughts will be most welcome.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
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  16. #14
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealingHands33 View Post
    I end up having to shut down, remove the HD, and reboot, which is profoundly annoying and inconvenient.
    Cheers,
    Al
    You could probably just log off, rather than shut down. That would be a lot quicker.

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  18. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    You could probably just log off, rather than shut down. That would be a lot quicker.
    Hi, Jim,

    I didn't realize that just logging off would be sufficient to allow me to remove the external USB HDD without upsetting either W7 or the HDD, but if that's so, then yes, that would indeed be a lot quicker. Unfortunately, it still doesn't solve the problem of why W7 won't let go of the HDD with the SRH procedure (especially when SRH worked perfectly on two XP machines), but at least it may "ease the pain" a little until someone (Ahem, Microsoft....Are you listening?) can figure out why so many people are apparently having the same problem.

    Thanks for the helpful idea. I'll give it a go and see what happens.

    Cheers,
    Al
    Windows 7 Pro, 64-Bit, SP1 on desktop
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