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Windows 7: External USB HDDs being treated as internal drive (cannot eject)

05 Oct 2010   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64bit
External USB HDDs being treated as internal drive (cannot eject)

So I'm having this funny problem as of late with all my external USB HDDs. Basically, the "Safely Eject Hardware" icon no longer appears when the drives are connected, thus I am unable to safely remove it. It used to work, but somewhere along the line, it stopped showing up. I don't recall what, if any, changes were made. The HDDs are SATA drives in external enclosures (two different types).

The drives appear in the "Hard Disk Drives" section of My Computer, and not under "Devices with Removable Storage".

I've tried uninstalling the associated devices from the Device Manager (USB Mass Storage Device, and the listing under Disk Drives). Other USB Media work fine (Flash drives), just not the HDDs.

The drive works fine otherwise, I'm just worried about corrupting data during the disconnect. Basically, it's as if Windows thinks they are internal drives.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #2

Win 7 Pro x64, VM Win XP, Win7 Pro Sandbox, Kubuntu 11

Can't remember ever using the "Safely Remove" feature. All I have done since USB devices have come out is just pull the USB cord out.

However, if you need to see if there is a problem; check to see if for some reason that the safely remove feature is hidden. Bring up the "Property Menu" for the task bar then go to the "Notification Area," then check to see if my chance it is hidden.

If that's not the problem check back, and we'll look at other possibilities.

And, BTW "Welcome to the Seven Forums."
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #3

Windows 7 Enterprise

I too noticed this when using USB or eSata harddrives.
When using USB thumbdrives, or flash drives, it'l appear as a removable disk and the notification icon you described will then appear.
I believe this is actually a Win7 feature, not a bug.

All the 'saftely remove drive' icon does, is terminates any read/writes to the disk, which makes it "safe" for removal.
By safe, I refer to the data transfer being completed so it becomes usable as a file, and not a half-written or corrupted file.
Most USB drive enclosures, or flash drives, have an LED or light that indicates read/writes.

So Lee, you're not wrong in not using the 'remove device' feature, because I'm sure you wait at least 2-3 seconds after transfer before removing the device. I do the same.

Hope this helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

05 Oct 2010   #4
Hopalong X

Windows7 Pro 64bit SP-1; Windows XP Pro 32bit

Try reading thru this to see if you find something.
I'll give it a read also since I haven't yet.
Meet you back here if you need in 5.

Safely Remove Hardware - Eject Device
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #5
Hopalong X

Windows7 Pro 64bit SP-1; Windows XP Pro 32bit

This one may even be more helpful.
Install/make your own eject button.

Safely Remove Hardware Shortcut - Create
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #6

Windows 7 Pro 64bit

Thanks for the suggestions Hopalong, unfortunately neither worked.

I'm glad to hear others are experiencing this "feature". Like xarden, I've been waiting for the activity light to stop blinking before I unplug the drives. I just found it odd considering the drives used to show up in the Safely Remove dialog (or, at least, I think they did, maybe I'm going crazy).

You know, I'll try the same drive out on another Win 7 PC and see if it's any different. Probably nothing is wrong, and I'm just paranoid from the XP-and-before days, when unplugging a USB device was suicide.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #7
Hopalong X

Windows7 Pro 64bit SP-1; Windows XP Pro 32bit

I found the tutorials and figured they were worth a shot.

Someone may come up with a solution so check back.
I don't have any other suggestions.
While we are sleeping tonight others are waking up around the world.

Good Luck
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Oct 2010   #8

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Most common causes are bios out-of-date, motherboard chip drivers out-of-date, bios not set to ahci, trying to use an internal unit as external or vice-versa, drive firmware needs an update.

Now here's an article which you may find interesting:
eSata & insternal Sata Port Configuration
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Oct 2010   #9

Windows 7 Pro 64bit
Problem solved - BIOS update

Well i tried the USB HDD on another Win7 PC and the "Safely Remove..." icon appeared, so i knew it was something with my specific set-up.

Turns out it was a BIOS update. As of 3 weeks ago, I was up-to-date, but what do ya know, a newly released update fixes the problem (though it was undocumented). That also explains why the problem suddenly appeared (probably alongside the last bios update).

Thanks for the feedback from everyone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Oct 2010   #10

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Great to hear that problem is fixed and many thanks for getting back to us with the resolution.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 External USB HDDs being treated as internal drive (cannot eject)

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