How to safely remove your USB drive when Safely Remove Hardware icon disappears from the system tray

safely_remove_hardwareMany times it might have happened with you that Safely remove hardware icon disappears from the system tray and you are unable to safely remove your USB/Pen drive. Pulling out the USB/Pen drive is not recommended in such a case as it might prove to be harmful for the life of your USB/Pen drive.

There is a setting for the USB drives which tells the OS how to optimize their usage. Either it is optimized for Quick Removal or for Performance. To check it, do the following:

  • Right click on the USB drive icon in My Computer.
  • Select the Hardware tab.
  • Select your USB drive and click on Properties.
  • Now click on Policies tab.


Optimize for Quick removal

This setting disables write caching on the disk so that you can disconnect this drive without using the Safely Remove Hardware icon.

Optimize for Performance

This setting enables the write caching on the disk so as to improve disk performance. To disconnect this drive, you should use the Safely Remove Hardware icon so as not to hurt your USB drive.

So this tutorial is about how to safely remove your USB drive if the Safely Remove Hardware icon disappears from the system tray when the USB drive is optimized for performance. Otherwise you can safely remove it right away. This works on Windows XP and it should work on Windows Vista too (I haven’t tried it though).

Method #1

Start > Run > Type in RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll


This will bring up the same dialog box which comes when the icon in the system tray is clicked. Now you can safely stop your USB drive and get it out of the USB port.

Method #2

Method #1 can’t be remembered always as to type in everytime you are in a similar scenario. You can try the following steps :

  • Right Click on My Computer.
  • Select Manage.
  • Select USB Mass Storage Device under the USB Controller.
  • Right Click and Disable it.
  • Remove your USB drive and Enable it again


If you forget to Enable it again, then you won’t be able to use any of your USB drives unless you enable it again.

Method #3

If you find yourself in the same situation repeatedly then you can make a shortcut for it. Just create a batch file with the content RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

Executing this batch file will show up the dialog box where you can stop your USB drive. You can even create a shortcut to this batch file and place it where it is easy accessible for you.

Still you need any sort of help, feel free to ask in the comments.


81 responses to “How to safely remove your USB drive when Safely Remove Hardware icon disappears from the system tray”

  1. Nice tutorial, I never tried the optimization of drive.

  2. Great tip buddy. This was new for me.

  3. @Nirmal
    Remember if you have chosen Optimize for Performance then ejecting your drive without safely removing option will hurt your drive.
    Thanks buddy!

  4. […] Safely remove USB drives when safely remove hardware icon disappears by Ashfame […]

  5. @Nirmal – guess the setting is “Optimize for performance” by default.otherwise you will never get the Safely Remove Hardware icon…

  6. I have no policies tab….

  7. Cool.. never knew of it; also by default the policy is set for quick removal I guess.

  8. @GFYM
    You don’t have a policies tab. Thats weird. Did you follow the steps as I mentioned? Can you upload a screenshot?
    @Techblissonline, Venu
    Its optimized for quick removal.

  9. […] How to safely remove your USB drive when Safely Remove Hardware icon disappears from the system tray… […]

  10. Michel Cochegrus Avatar
    Michel Cochegrus

    Hi, I have a problem that when I plug in my thumb drive, files are shown and a letter is assigned to the unit but there is no way to safely remove it because when I open the saely remove icon, the drive letter is not showing. Any ideas why?

    1. @Michel
      Don’t know what is causing it. But you can make use of Method # 3 to get eject the drive easily and faster.

  11. TechnoLaziness Avatar

    Thanks for adding to my knowledge.

    1. @TechnoLaziness
      You are welcome.

  12. I’m currently facing this problem with a USB modem for Broadband that I just bought. >_< Unfortunately, the solutions above don’t help. Well, not solutions 1 and 3 anyway… I didnt try the second one. Not sure if it would really help. I can’t get the policies tab using the . I did some research and found some info on the Microsoft website ( and one or two others.

    If you’re a Windows Vista user like moi, this is basically no solution (if you confirm that the device isn’t detected by Windows) but there’s a way to work around it or so they say.

    I’ll just quote the text from the HP website (

    “If Windows Vista does not show the connected USB storage device in Safely Remove Hardware, it is because Windows Vista treats devices that are connected to an embedded USB hub as non-removable devices. Non-removable devices do not appear in the Safely Remove Hardware program.
    To resolve this problem, shut down the computer before you remove the USB storage device.”

    I’m not so sure that works for me either… 🙁 the last time I did that my computer didn’t recognise the modem when I next plugged it in.

    Hopefully someone else will find a solution…

    P.S. In my case, the device and drivers or whatever (I’m not too familiar with all these technical stuff) is apparently are on disk drives. The ‘eject’ option is available but when I click it nothing happens which actually makes sense because it isnt in the disk drive to begin with.

    (Did I make any sense?) 😛

  13. […] How to safely remove your USB drive when Safely Remove Hardware icon disappears from the system tray […]

  14. Thanks. My ‘safely remove’ icon mysteriously disappeared from the taskbar, with no apparent way to restore it. Used method#3 to put a shortcut on my desktop – problem solved!

  15. @Astrea
    Thanks for your feedback.
    You are welcome. Keep visiting. You can even subscribe to receive free updates from this blog.

  16. aos4142 Avatar

    Thanks for the tip,very helpful,will remember for the future.Used method 2, was easy and fast(even for newbie).Thanks again!

  17. Your blog entry was very helpful, thank you. My college has the computers locked down and all icons removed from the taskbar, so I can use my memory stick, but I can’t eject it (other than just yanking it out). I appreciate the help.

  18. @aos4142, Joshua
    You both are welcome. Keep visiting!

  19. I have the opposite problem. The safely remove icon always appears at start up indicating presence of USB mass storage device when none is attached. Can’t seem resolved problem by uninstalling. Began after problem installing Motorola Cell Phone drivers, but didn’t resolve after System Restore.

  20. @max
    I don’t know what is causing the issue. You can use Method 1 & 3 to safely eject usb device.


  22. @Christian
    You are welcome. Keep visiting!

  23. Sundar Avatar

    Thanks all of u. I got the same problem with the disappearance of the safely remove hardware icon. It was resolved.
    But when I right click my pen drive icon in my computer, I don’t get “open” and “explore” commands.
    They are displayed as some unknown symbols.
    But “Auto play” and “search” commands are displayed.
    These open and explore when clicked, the “open with” window opens showing various programs.
    Can u please help in this regard to get back “open” appear again.Thanks

  24. @Sundar
    Yes you can do that. I am unable to find the exact link right now but this is the site where you should look :
    Vishal can surely help you out. Look in his archives first.

  25. […] FAT از ویکی‌پدیای انگلیسی NTFS از ویکی‌پدیای انگلیسی Tom’s Hardware Ashfame […]

  26. Great! Methods #1 and #3 were what I was looking for! (my tray icon had disappeared…)

  27. Great tips and easy to do. I have the problem on XP and my mac also. It never stops the drive even after I close all programs using it. The light on the drive is always on also my camera does the same thing. I can sledom get it to say it’s ok to disconnect,.

  28. Ankush KAtariya Avatar
    Ankush KAtariya

    The Symantec anti virus is not removed properly from my computer, so it is creating a problem whenever i do rigth click the computer show the message that put cd of anti virus

  29. I believe you can actually just click Start > Run and type “control hotplug.dll”
    Also, pressing {Windows key + R} will quickly bring up Start > Run.

  30. Rizwan Avatar

    1.yar ek prblm..mere pc me to Mycomptr me USB ka option nhi aata..i mean m nt tlkng about only Pendrive option…USB kbl ka koi optn nhi it not necssry to remove it like USB pendrive?

    2. Mycomptr pe jb right clk krte h..tb waha (in Manage optn)Usb controlr me USB mass storage ka b koi optn nhi aata h…asa Q???

  31. sahar Avatar

    program for
    safely remove usb
    or how to stop usb

  32. Aniruddha Avatar

    None of the solutions worked for me. Please help.

    1. @Aniruddha
      Please elaborate a bit. I think you are doing something wrong that you can’t get it to work by any of the above methods.

  33. I would like to know exactly what it means when Windows Vista says you can safely remove hardware? Is this due to an unauthorized entry on your computer, or what? Does this intefere with the basic function of your computer? Please, anyone explain thru e-mail to me.

    1. @clyde
      It just means that the hardware should be safely removed when no data is being written on it.

  34. Michel Cochegrus Avatar
    Michel Cochegrus

    One thing I discovered is that if you have a faulty USB hub, your USB devices show up (hard drives, printers, etc) but they won’t show up in your tray icon for safe removal. I changed a USB Hub i had and voilá, now I can see and safely remove. So check your USB Hub

    1. @Michel
      Faulty USB means some fault. no?

  35. Aniruddha Avatar

    I can open the dialog box by your method, but it is showing nothing even when a pen drive is inserted, please help!!

    1. @Aniruddha
      I have no idea what could be the problem if the pen drive is not showing up. Try a different USB port or computer to check whether the port is the culprit or the pendrive or the specific computer you are using.

  36. all of the 3 methods posted did’nt work.

    1. @rodeo
      Be more descriptive buddy else I won’t be able to point you in any direction.

  37. Cody Lambrecht Avatar
    Cody Lambrecht

    Hi, thanks for this tutorial, but I am currently using my USB drive for portable programs, and I have a script that runs that ends all my running processes, but the shortcuts I have tried to use to eject the usb automatically do now work.
    What I mean is, I would like to have a program/exe/bat file that will run and will eject(safely remove harddrive) automatically with a relative drive letter as it changes from pc to pc that I use it on.
    I also need it to work with no admin rights, and no .net or visual basic or sdk installed since I do not have admin rights.

    I’m not sure where to start personally,
    So any help in pointing me to the right place to start looking/reading would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Thanks, Cody.

    1. @Cody
      I have no idea how the relative drive letter of the usb drive can be handled. Try some googling and look for creating a batch file.

  38. I am having probems getting the Icon to leave. I click safely remove hardware and it comes up with “Samsung SP2504c SCSI Disk Drive” I click on that and it says that its in use and to stop using and try to remove again. I have done some investigating and found out that Samsung is my hard drive.. ‘
    Anyone know whats going on?

  39. Thank man, its works…

  40. I was following your advice to safely remove my pen drive because the icon was not there. I used method #2 to disable the usb mass storage device. Then I could not enable it again because it disappeared from the list. I had to restore my computer to a previous point to enable it again but I was scared when this happened. Coul dyou tell me why? Thanks

  41. […] Right click on the USB drive icon in My Computer […]

  42. Dr. Aajay Sharma Avatar
    Dr. Aajay Sharma

    I was working in MS Office 2007 and was saving files on Transcend USB 8 GB Pen drive. I pulled out the pen drive without stopping it. Now it shows 0 bytes used and 0 bytes free. My important files such as *.XLS/X, *.DOc/X etc. are stored in the pen drive. How to get these files from this pen drive. Please help.

    1. I have no idea about that. Try some googling.

    2. Go to ccleaner’s website, find the company’s program called recuva.
      It’s free and recovers your data easily.

      1. We are safely removing the pen drive here and not the data on it.

        1. “Hi,
          I was working in MS Office 2007 and was saving files on Transcend USB 8 GB Pen drive. I pulled out the pen drive without stopping it. Now it shows 0 bytes used and 0 bytes free. My important files such as *.XLS/X, *.DOc/X etc. are stored in the pen drive. How to get these files from this pen drive. Please help.”

          That’s what the original poster that I replied to said, so I told him to get the program Recuva to recover his data seeing as how he pulled out his flash drive and the data got corrupted/”disappeared.”
          It’s a simple fix by running that freeware program, and will take care of his problem by retrieving his data.

          1. Yes! It can be fixed if something goes wrong but your initial comment was short and didn’t say that much. Now its ok!

  43. Thanks for the tip,very helpful,will remember for the future.Used method 2, was easy and fast(even for newbie).Thanks again!
    [Please don’t use keywords in name]

  44. It’s very cool . Thank a lot !

  45. Christina Campbell Avatar
    Christina Campbell

    The computers at the public library do not have the option for safe removal of a USB drive, and they do not allow you to access My Computer. What do I do?

    1. Remove it. Almost all are on default settings and it will be safe to do so when its idle.

  46. Christina Campbell Avatar
    Christina Campbell

    Nevermind…I do have access to My Computer on this public computer. Instead of it being under the Start menu it was an icon on the desktop.

  47. Hi,
    I have tried method 1. When the box comes up it doesn’t have a list in it or any clickable parts. I cannot even transfer an address to the box. Can you help me?

    1. there are other methods too 🙂

  48. Raymond Avatar

    where is the safe remove hardware located? I mean so that i can navigate it? For example something like C:\WINDOWS\system32\Lang

    would be glad for your help.

    1. No idea about that but I think you should be easily able to find that with a google search.

  49. Hi,
    Really Nice…!!!

  50. JUSTcircle Avatar

    Hi, thanks for the tips.. but i’ve tried to use method #1 and #3..but it’s still shows “Te device ‘Generic volume’ cannot be stopped because a program is still accessing it.”.

    And when I tried to use method #2, after i try to ‘disable’ it.. it ask for restart windows. Is that I must to restart my laptop? then enable it after i remove my USB drive?

    I hope u can answer me.. I really need help. Thank in advance.

  51. I haven’t had the Safely Remove icon disappear, but I have had intermittent problems using it. Every so often it gives me a notice that “the device can’t be stopped now, try again later” or words to that effect, even though all programs that might be using or somehow interacting with the device (a flash drive) have been closed. I gather some programs continue to do things (wind down?) for a while after they’re closed but I continue to get the same notice for at least several minutes after closing anything that seems relevant.

    This occurs with several different flash drives of different brands, and for any given drive it happens occasionally but usually not. Is there some way to figure out what’s going on here? Thanks for anything you can tell me.

    I’m using Windows XP, if that matters.

  52. hello i have vvv bad situation i delete my mobile’s folder that memory card and phone but i think it was bad for me so plzzzzz tell me that how i get back my folders of memory card and phone plzzzzz tell the solution as soooon as possible and plzzzzzz dnt say that it was remove permanently plzzzzzz tell me ansssss fasttttt

  53. By default, usb storage devices are optimized for quick removal. So, unless you changed it yourself, don’t let your self get stuck on that problem. As long as you are 100% sure there are no longer open files in your usb drive, just simply pull it off. But if you really to use the OS’s tool of removing safely your usb drive but later tells you that “the device can’t be stopped now, try again later”, and yet you are really 100% sure there are no longer open files in your usb drive, you may use a program called ffunlock. It’s freeware and easy to use. Try googling it. Although the program doesn’t work well (I mean is not able to do its job), I have used it many times and had helped me many times.

  54. indeed this will help me… as it happens a alot of tym..

  55. Brilliant! Saved my day.

  56. Richard Stone Avatar
    Richard Stone

    I was in the same boat as most of you, unable to safely remove a usb mass storage device. I believe that I tried most of the suggestions above. What I wound up doing is left my computer on over night. In the morning I clicked on Safely Remove Hardware device and it said it was safe to remove the device. Hope this helps

  57. […] In future, unmount the Kindle by ejecting it safely or change its removal policy. […]

  58. Works like a charm most of the time. Thanks!

  59. IceArdor Avatar

    You can also go into Disk Management and change the status of a drive to Offline, then remove it that way. You will have to mark the drive as Online once you plug it back in again.

  60. Arpit Mohta Avatar
    Arpit Mohta

    I knew the second one but rest two was not in my knowledge.Thanx for adding them to my knowledge.

  61. […] a guide to quickly and easily ejecting your contraptions check out this article. This entry was posted in Blog by admin. Bookmark the […]

  62. swatika gupta Avatar
    swatika gupta

    thanks a ton…..
    it was a gr8 help…
    my prob get solved…

  63. FlyingPig Avatar

    There was a safe way…? I thought you just pulled it out. o_o My whole life has been a lie…