How to eject a USB drive when Windows doesn’t want to


Here’s a quick description of how you can use “Unlocker“,one of my favorite freeware programs, in order to safely remove a USB or external drive whenever Windows refuses to do it.

One of the things that I find most annoying about Windows is when I use the “Safely Remove Hardware” function to disconnect a flash or external drive and it doesn’t work.

What bugs me more is when I am in a hurry and that happens (e.g. I want to grab my USB drive and rush off to catch the bus in time, and Windows announces that “the device … cannot be stopped right now. Try stopping the device again later”).

I don’t know what other people’s experience is, but I would say for myself that I get this more than 50% of the time, which is why I decided that I would write a posting on how to use Unlocker to work around this issue. Here are the steps (assuming you tried the ’safely remove hardware’ dialog and it didn’t work).

try stopping the device later

1. Download and install Unlocker if you don’t already have it.

2. Go to ’My Computer’, right click on the icon for the hard drive you want to disconnect, then click the ’ Unlocker’ entry in the context menu (see screenshot).

unlock drive

3. Once (and if) you get the ’Unlocker’ dialog with the locking processes outlined, click on ’Unlock All’.


4. That’s it. Now go back to the “Safely remove hardware” dialog in the system tray and it should work as normal.

Although the process above works every time for me, I can imagine a situation where the drive might not be ready for removal for other reasons beside locking processes, so in theory it may not work 100% of the time.