Sometimes you want to disconnect a USB drive or a flash memory card but Windows says it can’t be removed because it’s busy. Or maybe you just don’t like the “Safely Remove Hardware” function that sits in the notification area. If you are looking for a better way, you might try an open source alternative that will let you quickly and safely disconnect USB drives, even in some cases where Windows says you can't. It’s a free portable program called “USB Disk Ejector” and it makes safely ejecting drives about as easy as it can get.
USB Disk Ejector works in Windows XP on up, both 32- and 64-bit. It requires no installation and can be run from anywhere convenient. The developer’s download page is here. The download is a 0.95 MB ZIP file containing the executable file and an HTML information file. It’s probably best to extract it to a separate folder. A CFG file containing your personal settings will be created when you first configure the program.
The program can be run by clicking the executable or by creating a shortcut. Another option is to minimize it to the notification area (system tray). You can do a straightforward ejection by using the simple interface shown in the first graphic or you can configure a number of additional options by clicking “More” to open the dialog shown in the second graphic. The program works for external USB disk drives as well as USB flash drives and memory cards.
The second graphic shows the useful option to assign hotkeys to eject disks using a variety of criteria. Hotkeys can be created to eject disks by letter, label, or other marker. It is best to assign a hotkey combination that is not otherwise in use. I work with USB drives a lot so I have hotkeys Shift+Alt+F and Shift+Alt+G to eject the F: and G: drives, respectively. If you label your flash drives (see this previous tip), that is also a useful basis for hotkeys.
Other features include command-line options, mountpoint support, card reader and memory card support.
And there you have it – a way to safely and quickly remove USB drives.
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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.
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