If you remove your USB external drives without ejecting them first can have dire consequences for your files: they can get corrupted or, in rare circumstances, the flash drive could be bricked. This is why it is recommended that you always make sure that it is safe to unplug your USB external drives before doing so.
The first thing you can try is to use the tool provided by Windows to remove the drive.
- Simply go to the system tray at the bottom right of the screen.
Right-click on the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon, then click Eject Storage Media. A message should appear informing you that it is now safe to remove your device. However, this may not always work. You can get a message reading:
→The device is currently in use.” This means that some program or programs are using one or more files on the external drive. The problem here is that Windows will not tell you which program is currently using files on the drive.
- You can try to identify the program yourself and close it. This may include having to open Task Manager, going to the Processes tab, and ending the process. This also may not work, but it is definitely worth the try.
- Using a third-party program is also an option. They can be pretty hand as they can automatically identify the programs that are using the files on your USB external drive and stop them. Make sure you do research on whether the program is safe before downloading it. Also keep in mind that these types of programs are paid even though they have a 30-day free trial.
- If you do not want to spend money on such a tool, there are a couple of more things that you can try. They are a bit annoying though. The first one is logging off of your Windows account, and then logging back on again. This means that it will be necessary for you to close all programs and files you are currently using, and then reopening them again once you have logged on. This method can also fail. If there is another account on the PC, it may be using some of the files on the drive, which will again prevent you from safely removing it. It also means that you have closed all other programs and files for nothing.
If all else fails, there is a sure method of removing a USB external device safely, although it is a bit extreme. It is by shutting down your PC. This way no programs will be running, which means that no programs will be using the files on the drive. However, this again means that you will have to close all other files and applications, and stop everything else that you were doing on your computer. After shutting down the PC, remove the drive, and then you can boot up the PC again.
If you do not need the USB drive or USB port for anything else, finish up your work and then shut down the PC and take out the drive. There is always the option of pulling it out without making sure that it is safe, but we already mentioned that this is not recommended. Let’s hope you resolve the problem without resorting to any of the last two solutions, which will impede your working process.