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Windows 7: Cannot release external hard-drive

22 Feb 2013   #1

XP Pro (x86) | 7 HP (x86) & (x64) | 7 Pro (x64)
Cannot release external hard-drive

I have two external HDs -- one USB2 and USB3
PC1 -- Win7-32bit
PC2 -- Win7-64bit
PC3 -- WinXP-32bit
Ext-HDs cannot be released from any PC, with "Safely Remove Hardware"

But they are sometimes released from a WinXP PC (not always)

I have tried setting "External USB Device Properties" to ...
(o) Optimize for quick and removal
- and --
(o) Optimize for performance
- and -
closed all Window Explorer windows and all programs
... without success.

I have left the offending Ext-HDs for 30 minutes without touching the PCs, and the HDs remain "cannot be removed"
Downloaded "Unlocked" program but it is of no help.
I have spent all day on this one.

Would appreciate any help, thank you
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2013   #2

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Usually Unlocker UNLOCKER 1.9.1 BY CEDRICK 'NITCH' COLLOMB should be able to kill all the running processes to enable safe removal of drives.

You may try the following.

1. In the Properties > General tab for the drives uncheck indexing for the ext. drive/s.

2. Try stopping the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2013   #3

XP Pro (x86) | 7 HP (x86) & (x64) | 7 Pro (x64)

Thank you "jumanji" for your response.

The offending external HD now locks up two of my PC's as soon as the ext-HD is connected.
Cannot exit any program nor even start "Task Manager"
The only solution was to use the start/stop btn on the PC.
Now I suspect the ext-HD is corrupted, causing the lock up problems.

My concern is I have over 915 text files of code snippets on the ext-HD and no other backup.
(Twelve years of AutoCad coding maybe lost. Am looking into Recycle Bin (if only I new where the folders are being restored to. Up until now I kept all snippets on a desktop PC -- just decided to make all my snippets portable for the other 3 PCs. A good lesson in backup-backup-backup !)

Not quite desperate -- yet -- but close !!
My System SpecsSystem Spec

22 Feb 2013   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

In the circumstances, I would advise that you try accessing the external drives with a bootable Live Linux CD/pendrive and check whether you can copy/backup all your files.

Download Lucid Puppy (Ubuntu-Compatible Build) v5.2.8 ISO from

It is light and only 132.6 MB.

Make a Bootable pendrive with Rufus v1.3.2 (442 KB) It takes less than 2 minutes to create your bootable live Linux pendrive.

For more guidance on the recovery process directly get into the heading Recovering files from the non-bootable Internal Drive - applicable to recovery from any hard drive - in

Lucid Puppy way to recover files from a non-bootable computer

You may also use this tutorial by Golden to create your bootable pendrive with Peppermint Linux
- whichever is easy on you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Mar 2013   #5

XP Pro (x86) | 7 HP (x86) & (x64) | 7 Pro (x64)

Thanks for your response. Applogies for my delayed acknowledgement. (Business very hectic)

"Unlocker" locked up.
Discovered cold starting the device resolved the lockup + removal. (But that was hardly a fix)

Backed up all data from the device onto a PC
Reformatted the device as NTFC -- (incl having to close all WinExp windows while "Format" dlg is open else would not format)
Copied all data back onto device, now it works like a new one.

Via the web I found "USB Safely Remove" tool (am trialing it at the moment on 4 PCs)
For me it is worth the US$20 for all PCs and "USB Safely Remove" provides more feedback than the lame windows safely-remove. Including tools to forcibly remove. A much safer process.

The only problem I have now is unable to get the WD icon to "stick" to the device in Win Explorer. Have started another thread ""

Thanks for your help
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Mar 2013   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Glad you resolved the problem with a cold start, backup and format route. ( I presume you booted with the device plugged-in.)

You may also try these free alternatives to USB Safely Remove.

3 Free USB Safely Remove Alternatives - Technology Flow

( I recommend that you always create a system restore point before installing a new software and trying it. In case you do not want to keep it, you can always do a system restore and remove it totally. To ensure that your restore points stay put for a number of days, you may consider increasing the space allocated to System Restore temporarily till you complete the trials.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Mar 2013   #7

XP Pro (x86) | 7 HP (x86) & (x64) | 7 Pro (x64)

@ jumanji

Brilliant helper.

Am trialing the three free "Safely Remove"

Have adopted your protocol of creating a restore point before testing new software.
- safer than installing and uninstalling
(I am embarrassed to admit I have never created/used Restore points)

All your info at #4 -- excellent!

By coincidence one of my new PCs crashed (faulty mother board)
(Your "Lucid Puppy" tip at #4 saved the day)

I very much appreciate your time and patience
(This "" is very impressive)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Mar 2013   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 32 bit

Glad to be of help anytime ( in whatever limited way I can :) ). Thanks.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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