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Problem Ejecting USB Mass Storage Device

On more occasions that I’d like to admit, Windows will not eject a USB device from my operating system when using the Safely Remove Hardware in the icon tray. The annoying error message Windows displays “The device cannot be stopped right now. Try stopping the device again later” usually appears in a time sensitive situation. So what is the work around?

usb device locked

Try using a freeware software utility I found while reading FreewareGenius.com called Unlocker. Unlocker is a utility that frees a file or folder which is being used by another program or process. Albeit there are situations that a file should remain tied to it’s process or program but other times you need to force the release.

Here are some examples of error message you might have seen:

  • Cannot delete file: Access is denied.
  • There has been a sharing violation.
  • The source or destination file may be in use.
  • The file is in use by another program or user.
  • Make sure the disk is not full or write-protected and that the file is not currently in use.

So, assuming you’ve tried the Safely Removing Hardware feature in Windows and it didn’t work, your next step is this:

  1. Download Unlocker and install.
  2. Navigate to My Computer and right click on the icon for the device you want to unlock.
  3. Select Unlocker from the option box.
  4. If you get the Unlocker dialog with the locking process or program outlined simple click Unlock All.
  5. Try to Safely Remove Hardware again from the system tray.
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If downloading yet another utility application for your PC is not something you want to try, you can always hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete for the Windows Task Manager and click the Processes tab to see what activities are going on.

From here it’s your best guess as to what process has your device locked up. I have found if you recall the most recent activity when last using the problem device, closing down that process will do the trick. However, and this is a big one, selecting the wrong process could do harm to your PC or USB device so proceed with caution. If you are not a savvy computer user, just get the Unlocker utility.

As a closing comment, be sure to consider other functions your PC is performing before unlocking the device. Sometimes virus software is reading through the drive or Windows is writing to the device in cache memory (on flash storage devices).

After thought:  Some may ask why not just pull the device out regardless of the error message?  Well read this article to find out about possible damage.

Reference Material from: FreeWareGenius

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