how to eject external hard drive

Safely Ejecting Your External Hard Drive in Windows 10: A Guide

How to fix can’t eject external hard drive on Windows 10. External hard drives have become an integral part of our digital lives, offering ample storage space for backups, media files, and other important data.

 However, it’s crucial to properly eject your external hard drive before unplugging it to prevent data corruption and ensure the longevity of your storage device. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the simple process of safely ejecting your external hard drive in Windows 10.

Why Safely Eject?

When you connect an external hard drive to your Windows 10 computer, the operating system establishes a connection to it, allowing you to access and modify the stored data. 

Safely ejecting the external hard drive ensures that all ongoing read and write operations are completed and the file system is properly updated before disconnecting the device. Please do so to avoid data loss or corruption.

Why Is Safe Ejection So Important?

Many of us have experienced ejecting an external hard drive, but it’s crucial to do so with care to prevent any potential damage.

When dealing with external USB devices, the terms “eject” and “disconnect” are often used interchangeably. “Eject” is used when internally detaching the USB device from the computer, while “disconnect” refers to physically unplugging the USB device.

Therefore, the initial step involves ejecting the USB device from the computer and then physically disconnecting it from the USB port on the PC.

Begin by instructing your computer to turn off the external USB device’s write cache and confirm your readiness to detach the device by ejecting it.

Once this step is completed, you can physically disconnect the devices. Failing to properly eject the disk may result in errors that can damage files and directories, potentially requiring a complete drive reformat and resulting in the loss of all your data.

Some external USB devices, such as iLok and eLicenser, may not appear in the list of ejectable drives on certain computers.

However, if the device is listed, it is essential to eject it from your computer before safely removing it from the device list. It ensures a secure and damage-free removal process for your external USB devices.

Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Eject External Hard Drive in Windows 10

  1. Close all open files and applications: Before ejecting your external hard drive, make sure that you’ve closed any files or applications that might be using data from or writing data to the external drive. It ensures that all operations are completed before removal.
  2. Locate the USB icon in the system tray: In the bottom right corner of your Windows 10 desktop, you’ll find the system tray. Look for the USB icon, which represents your external hard drive. If you don’t see the icon, click the upward arrow to show hidden icons.
  3. Click on the USB icon: Right-click on the USB icon representing your external hard drive. A context menu will appear with several options.
  4. Select ‘Eject’ from the context menu: In the context menu, you’ll see an option labeled ‘Eject‘ or ‘Safely Remove Hardware.’ Click on this option. Windows will notify you when it’s safe to remove the external hard drive.
  5. Wait for confirmation: Once you’ve selected ‘Eject,’ Windows will notify you that it’s safe to remove the external hard drive. It’s crucial to wait for this confirmation before physically unplugging the device.
  6. Physically disconnect the external hard drive: Once you receive the confirmation message, you can safely unplug the external hard drive from your computer.
  7. Optional: Use the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ tool. Alternatively, you can use the ‘Safely Remove Hardware‘ tool to eject your external hard drive. To access this tool, right-click on the Start button, select ‘Device Manager,’ expand the ‘Disk drives’ category, right-click on your external hard drive, and choose ‘Safely Remove Hardware.’

Safely Remove Hardware in Windows

1. Locate the icon for Safely Remove Hardware on the taskbar; if it’s not visible, click on Show hidden icons. Press and hold (or right-click) the icon, then choose the hardware you wish to disconnect.

2. In case the Safely Remove Hardware icon is not present, press and hold (or right-click) on the taskbar and opt for Taskbar settings.

3. Within the Notification Area, click on Select, which icons appear on the taskbar.

4. Scroll down to Windows Explorer: Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media and activate it.

5. If these steps prove ineffective, ensure that the device has concluded all activities, such as file copying or syncing. Navigate to Start > Settings > Devices, select the device, and click on Remove device.

6. Finally, consult the hardware manufacturer for potential driver updates or other relevant upgrades.


In conclusion, safely ejecting your external hard drive in Windows 10 is a simple yet essential step to ensure the integrity of your data and the longevity of your storage device. 

By following these steps, you can minimize the risk of data corruption and enjoy a smooth experience with your external storage. 

Remember, taking a few extra moments to safely eject your external hard drive is a small investment in the protection of your valuable data.


Why can I not eject my external hard drive?

One frequent reason why Windows encounters difficulty ejecting an external storage device is the ongoing access to files or folders on the device by your system. 

Even in the absence of an apparent task like file copying, there might be an active background process that is still in progress.

Why is my eject USB not working on Windows 10?

Causes of “Problem Ejecting USB Mass Storage Device” Error.

Certain software or applications running in the background on your computer, such as Windows security software, antivirus programs, or backup software, may be actively accessing the USB device. 

Additionally, if the USB is formatted as NTFS, this formatting may contribute to the occurrence of an error when attempting to eject the USB.

Why is it safe to remove hardware?

Unplugging the device while a file is open may lead to corruption. Regardless of your chosen method, it’s crucial to employ the Safely Remove Hardware icon and eject your device before disconnecting. Alternatively, you can right-click on it in the Computer window and choose the Eject option.

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