Thursday, November 6, 2008

External Hard Drives Can’t be safely removed

As soon as I bought the 1TB WD My Book External hard drive, I realized the problem: it can’t be safely removed; windows states that it’s in use and any programs that use it should be closed. Not surprisingly, there is no trivial way to know what files are in use and/or what processes are locking the files.

Some googling revealed that I’m not alone on the problem, but found no solution. Some observations:

  1. Using the safely remove Hardware tray icon leads to the error message: “Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic volume’ device because it is in use. Close any programs or windows that might be using the device, and then try again later”.
  2. You go to the drive properties, go to the hardware tab, select the physical drive and click properties. In the window that appears, in Policies tab, the radio buttons are grayed out (disabled) and “Optimize for performance” is selected. It may seem that if one could change to “Optimize for quick removal” the problem would disappear.
  3. Using third party tools like the great Sysinternals Process Explorer, the cause for the problem is diagnosed as svchost.exe holding some a file named tracking.log inside System Volume Information folder. This file is running several services on the computer, so it’s difficult to solve the problem in this way.
  4. In some forums, it’s suggested that disabling the system restore on the target drive will solve the problem, but in my system it’s completely disabled.

I’m using vista business and User account Control is enabled on my system. The grayed out radio buttons were actually a side effect of this. As a workaround, you can switch to the Volumes tab, click populate, this will reopen the dialog box in elevated permissions, In this one the radio buttons are not disabled! Actually this time the “Optimize for quick removal” is selected. Microsoft has forgotten that querying or changing this option requires elevated permissions!!

I have another workaround for the original “safely remove” problem: I simply deny all users from accessing “System Volume Information” and all its contents and the problem vanishes!!!
If you need more step to step instructions: Right-Click on “System Volume Information”, Select Properties. Go to “security” tab, select “Advanced”. Go to “Owner” tab, if in Vista, Click Edit, Select Your UserName, and check “Replace owner on subcontainers and objects”. Click Ok. Close all Dialog boxes. Right Click on “System Volume Information” again and choose properties. Go to “Security”, if in vista, click “Edit”, Click “Add”, type “everyone”, click “ok”, then in “Permissions for everyone” click the topmost checkbox under “deny” column, this will select all other checkboxes in that column. Click ok.

Good luck with safe removal!!!


Anonymous said...

that is not the solution of my case is my blog

my senario: even if we safely remove in vista hard disk will continue spinnin. to stop only solution is mine using sdparm

EOD said...

Hi, I attempted the step to step instructions and got as far as "Replace owner on subcontainers and objects", there was no such option avaialable to check.
However, I continued with the remaining steps. It did not work! Now the entire "deny" column is selected in "Permissions for everyone". How do i revert these steps or how do i know which of the "Permissions for everyone" were previously(or should optimumly) be selected in the "Allow" column??

cyocolthearts said...

,works for me

Pushpraj said...

Having tried your first solution of setting safely remove option and and it not being of help, I did succeed after trying to deny permissions. Thanks.

Pushpraj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
liling said...

Thanks... It is works for me...=)

awakenwiththefallen said...

Doing exactly as you told us to do on your last remark on how to fix the problem it then required me to format my hard drive and I lost all of my data. However it did fix the eject problem. Simply be warned all who use this method, for I then had to format my hard drive for it to work. (I am running Windows 7)

Joseph wills said...

This problem is not present in windows XP service pack 2 and win 7 ultimate addition...
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