Recently, several colleagues have complained that they cannot remove external hard drives from their Windows computers. There are several reasons for this, including outdated or faulty USB drivers that prevent the drive from being removed, or other processes accessing the contents of the drive.
You can choose to disconnect the drive without first closing applications reading from it, but doing so risks possible data corruption. You can use a data recovery tool to repair and restore the corrupted files, but there is no guarantee that it will work.
To ensure the security and integrity of your external hard drive, it is: recommend to remove your drive only after closing all processes using it.
Can’t Eject External Hard Drive on Windows 10? Try these solutions
If you’ve tried closing applications that were accessing files on the external hard drive and still can’t eject the drive, here are some solutions that may help.
Quick fixes to try
- Close all programs including your antivirus and try removing the disc again.
- If you have Norton System Works on your PC, it comes with the Norton Protected Recycle Bin. This will disable the Safely Remove Hardware option so that it will not work when you try to eject the drive.
- If you manage to eject the drive, try connecting it to another PC and eject it using the Safely Remove Hardware icon. If it works on the other system, the problem is probably with your computer system.
- Disable Windows Indexing Service† If enabled, you may not be able to eject the external hard drive because the service can allow Windows to constantly access the drive.
- Reboot your system to fix any system glitches that could affect ejecting a disc on your PC. When the system reboots, no apps are allowed to access the drive so you can try ejecting it again and see if it works.
- Finally you could try boot in safe mode and see if you can eject the disc without any problems. If possible, it means that a startup program can access the disk immediately after Windows loads. You will have to try a clean boot to determine which program is the culprit.
1. Use the Windows Hardware and Device Troubleshooter
The built-in Windows Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter is a tool that helps diagnose problems with your PC or other devices connected to it. You can use this tool to detect any issue that may affect the removal of your external hard drive.
- Select Get started † Settings † Update & Security†
- Then select Resolving problems on the left pane.
- Select Additional troubleshooters and then select your connected devices.
- Select Run the troubleshooter and wait for Windows to detect and find any issues before trying to eject your external hard drive again.
2. Use the Run Command window to eject your external hard drive
The Run Command window allows you to open files, folders, or programs and access web resources in Windows 10. You can also use the tool to run a command and eject your external hard drive.
- Right click Get started † Run†
- Then enter this command in the Run box:
RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll and press Enter†
- Select your external hard drive in the Safely Remove Hardware dialog box, then press Stop†
3. Use Disk Management to eject the external hard drive
Disk Management is another built-in tool in Windows 10 that allows you to manage all the drives connected to your PC. If the Windows Hardware and Devices troubleshooter didn’t help, try using Disk Management and see if it fixes the problem.
- Select Start, type Disk Management in the search box and press Enter†
- Locate your external hard drive in the Disk Management window.
- Right click on the drive and select eject† Once you do this, your external hard drive will show as offline, but if you want to use the drive again, you can change its status to online in the Disk Management utility.
4. Close running tasks or processes
If you still can’t remove your external hard drive, use the Task Manager to close suspicious tasks on Windows.
- Open Task Manager by right-clicking on the Taskbar and select task management† You can also press CTRL+ALT+DELETE hotkey and select Task Manager to open it.
- Select the Processes tab to see all running processes.
- Right click on any suspicious looking program or process running on your PC, select End of task to close it and then try to eject your external hard drive again.
5. Update your PC’s USB drivers
Outdated, outdated, or incorrect USB drivers on your PC can also affect your ability to eject your drive from the computer. To fix this, you can update the USB drivers to make sure you have the latest version for your device and then try to eject the drive again.
- Right click Get started † Device Manager†
- Select the Universal Serial Bus controllers list to expand it, then check for a yellow exclamation mark next to one of the items.
- If you find an item with the yellow exclamation mark, right click on the item and select Update disk software†
If you don’t find any marks next to any of the entries, uninstall the driver and restart your PC. This way, Windows will automatically install the correct and latest version of the USB driver and you can try to eject the drive again.
6. Use Device Manager to eject the external hard drive
Device Manager in Windows 10 is an essential tool that allows you to configure or troubleshoot hardware and devices on your computer.
If you are unable to eject external hardware drives on Windows using the above methods, you can try ejecting them in Device Manager.
- Right click Get started † Control panel and select Hardware and Sound†
- Then select Device Manager†
- Select Disk drives to see all storage devices connected to your computer.
- Right-click on the external hard drive you want to remove and select Remove device†
Wait for the process to complete and then disconnect your external hard drive.
7. Use a third-party utility to eject the hard drive
If nothing else works, you can try a third-party utility to help you eject your external hard drive.
One of the free tools you can use is: Process Explorer, an advanced process management tool that provides details about active processes running on your PC. Such details include the open or loaded handles and DLL processes on your system, so you can search for them online in case you’re not sure what they’re doing.
To use Process Explorer, install and run the utility, then select: Find† Find handle or DLL in the menu. Here you can type the drive letter of your external hard drive and let the tools search for it.
Once you have found your drive, right click on it and select Close handle†
Eject your external hard drive safely
We hope you found a helpful solution using all the methods mentioned in this guide. If you still can’t remove your external hard drive, consider backing up your files to a cloud storage service or learn how to transfer large files from one computer to another to avoid data loss.
If your USB drive is already damaged, see our guide on how to recover data from a damaged USB drive for tips on how to recover your files.