Can't remove external HD without completely shutting down. "This device is currently in use. Close any programs... that might be using the device"

catalogue

New Member
Messages
8
Is there any way to remove an external hard drive without completely shutting down the computer? I have never once had a situation where I clicked on "Safely remove hardware..." > "Eject external USB..." and it let me remove the disk. Every time wtihout exception I get "This device is currently in use. Close any programs or windows that might be using the device". I even get it if I turn off computer > turn it on > do not open any programs or touch any keys > attach external HD > try to remove it. In other word Windows is telling me a program's using the device even though no programs are running.

Going in to diskmgmt.msc and changing the drive to offline is not an option because even though it allows me to remove the disk, the next time I attach it it remains offline and I have to go back in to diskmgmt to switch it to online which is too much hassle.
 

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billmcct

Member
Messages
40
Location
Atlanta Georgia
I would say that your Antivirus is monitoring the drive. The "Safely remove hardware" icon is a waste of time and is completely unneeded since NO versions of Windows after Win 98 uses Windows Delayed Write on any external drives unless you enable it yourself. I just look at the indicator lights on my external drives and if they are NOT flashing, I simply unplug them. In 20 years I have never lost any data doing so.
 
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catalogue

New Member
Messages
8
I just look at the indicator lights on my external drives and if they are NOT flashing, I simply unplug them.

The lights on my drives are almost always continuously on.
 

My Computer

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billmcct

Member
Messages
40
Location
Atlanta Georgia
Well, not all externals flash to show data transfer. I have 4 WD 4TB drives and two very old Seagate 1 TB drives that flash when reading or writing to them. I also have two newer Seagate 4TB "Backup Plus" drives and one of them the light doesn't work at all. The other Does Not flash ever. However I just wait a minute or so after writing to them before I unplug them. I went through all the trying to use the "Safely Remove Hardware" option many many years ago and discovered that windows doesn't use delayed write on any external drives. You can check that yourself if you wish by right clicking the drive in Explorer and selecting "Properties" click on the "Hardware" tab select your drive and click "Properties" again. On the "General" tab click "Change Settings" click the "Policies" tab. It should have "Quick removal (default)" checked which means write delay is disabled. As stated the "Safely Remove Hardware" option is a waste of time. I actually hid the icon from my system tray.
 

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SCANNERMAN

Professional amateur
Messages
146
Location
Northern Gateway, Canada
Not sure if you have solved your issue by now but for the good of our readers I will make a response. "Safely Remove Hardware" still functions in Windows 8.1 and I still use it. I don't recommend removing it or disabling it as it may still be applicable in some circumstances apart from delayed writes depending on what you have running in your operating system at the time. (The old "if it ain't broke don't fix it" adage would apply here.) Indeed, your external drive should be set to "Quick Removal" as described by billmcct. There are exceptions to this as well but I doubt that you are using your external drive in a RAID array or anything complex. If your indicator light on your external drive is on and flashing it's interacting with your operating system. If you're using it for file history (or for a Windows backup) you could still be writing data to the drive. Acer also has proprietary software that could be writing to the drive as well. Not all of this is readily visible depending on how your task manager is configured. Try leaving it on over night with your PC running and see if it's finished whatever it's doing the next day. If the light on the drive isn't flashing it should be safe to remove the drive. Usually they have a switch on them so you can shut down the drive before removing. Try the switch if "safely remove hardware" doesn't work at this point. There are a number of ways to approach this issue (as is the case with many) and I have only mentioned one or two. Let our readers know if you had any success with this peradventure they too have a similar issue. If it isn't fixed yet let us know so we can help you with alternative approaches. I hope this helps.
 

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catalogue

New Member
Messages
8
windows doesn't use delayed write on any external drives. You can check that yourself if you wish by right clicking the drive in Explorer and selecting "Properties" click on the "Hardware" tab... "Quick removal (default)" checked which means write delay is disabled.
Ahhh *this* is the official confirmation from Win - or at least something approaching official - I was hoping for, that is, something that makes it clear Win is specifically set up to allow so-called Quick Removal. It's true you no longer see the hysterical warnings in help sites like in the 2000s and earlier ( "DON'T JUST UNPLUG YOUR DRIVE! DON'T JUST UNPLUG YOUR DRIVE!") but that's not really proof, just lack of evidence. The warnings permanently imprinted in my brain and because I'm talking about external HDs that have all my backups it's hard to get over it.
 

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catalogue

New Member
Messages
8
I doubt that you are using your external drive in a RAID array or anything complex.
Thanks this is all very helpful. So far I've disconnected a couple while the light is on and not flashing and having exited any program that could conceivably be using it. I should hope a web browser viewing normal web pages is not accessing files on my external drives which I only use for backing up text docs, photo, video, mp3, and program installation files; that's about it.

Nothing complex just off the shelf 1 TB nonpowered and 4 TB powered external hard drives from Toshiba and WD for the aforementioned backups. None have switches. I never run any programs on the externals or even access the files on them in any way except to copy to/from my computer and compare folders with a comparison program called Beyond Compare (basically just a fancy file explorer). Maybe once in a blue moon I'll rename a file on an external.

I guess I won't know if it doesn't work until some day I attach an external and it can't be read because something fundamental got corrupted?
 

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SCANNERMAN

Professional amateur
Messages
146
Location
Northern Gateway, Canada
Thanks this is all very helpful.

Happy to be of assistance. Yes, I have a couple of old back up external drives in enclosures that have no switches as well. I don't use them often, but sometimes they come in handy. By "nonpowered" I'm assuming you mean that the drive gets its power via USB. Sometimes (but not often) this presents an issue when you try to use the "safely remove hardware" feature. I ran into this on an old DELL INSPIRON once when I was just stripping data from the drive to replace it with an SSD. I would just wait for the files to transfer and the flashing light to stop. Unplugging it while it was still hot never hurt it and it's still functioning to this day. It does work with other PCs when I use the "safely remove hardware" feature so it could be that the type of PC you're using it on is causing this. You could test this by trying it on another PC. I have mine on a shelf someplace, an old Verbatim model. (Probably a Toshiba inside). I wouldn't worry about it much if you already have it set for quick disconnect. At any rate keep it. They don't make this stuff like they used to.
 

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My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 10, Linux Mint and more
    Computer type
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    System Manufacturer/Model
    ASUS
    CPU
    AMD 3800X, Intel 6900K
    Motherboard
    X99 E-WS USB 3.1, CROSSHAIR HERO VIII
    Memory
    128 GB CORSAIR DOMINATOR, 32 GB TEAM GROUP T FORCE
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA 1070, SAPPHIRE RX 590 NITRO+
    Sound Card
    ONBOARD
    Monitor(s) Displays
    SAMSUNG 32"
    Screen Resolution
    4K
    Hard Drives
    :::GRINS::: SERIOUSLY?
    PSU
    CORSAIR 1000 W PLATINUM
    Case
    THERMAL TAKE / AZZA
    Cooling
    NOCTUA / CM
    Keyboard
    LOGITECH PRODIGY
    Mouse
    LOGITECH
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    FIREFOX
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    KASPERSKY
    Other Info
    PC builder. Own a dozen PCs / built hundreds. All of us have a lot to learn. Some of us stand to learn more than others and those who think they know the most generally know the least. I'm here to learn and pass on what little I know.
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