Ejecting External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'hardware' started by LenC, Nov 22, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I have an external hard drive connected to my laptop (win 7) that I use for nothing other than shadow protect image backups.

    I'd like to be able to quickly eject it so I can take my laptop with me. When I try to eject it, I get the message "this device is currently in use...".

    Unlocker tells me it is locked by explorer.exe and shadowprotectsvc.exe. If I try to end the Shadow Protect process, I get an access denied error message.

    My question is this...Would I cause any harm if I just unplug the drive? My concern is that my image files would get corrupted in some way and I'd be unabale to use them when I might really really need them.

    Thanks,
    Len
     
  2. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Posts:
    8,516
    Try clicking the Safely Remove Hardware tray icon first. You can also try "Unlock All" with Unlocker, but that's probably not much better than just unplugging.

    In virtually all cases, the only files affected by unplugging are those being written.
     
  3. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    That is where I started - with the tray icon - and I got the "device in use" message. As you suggested, I tried "unlock all". That didn't work - unlocker still tells me the device is locked by explorer and shadow protect.

    It sounds like I'll be okay if I just unplug the drive - as long as I don't unplug when a scheduled shadow protect backup is running. I'll try that and then verify some images afterward just to be sure.

    BTW, I have another laptop (vista) with the same setup - external harddrive and shadow protect. I can safely eject the hard drive from the systray on that computer without any problem. I don't understand why I'm having a problem here.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  4. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Posts:
    4,222
    I use many USB hard drives with Vista and Windows 8, and I have the same problems with the large ones (1TB and 2TB). With the smaller ones (90 GB, 120GB, 150GB) they always disengage normally from the tray icon.

    I don't know why this is happening, but I've noticed that by putting the notebook to sleep, it instantly disconnects the drive and I can unplug it as if the machine had been powered down. On the other hand if you take your laptop with you to go somewhere, it is safer to completely power it down which usually takes about 30 seconds with my machines... Is this time too long for you or are there other reasons?
     
  5. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    When I said "take it with me", I meant to another room - and I didn't want to wait for power down / reboot. But putting it to sleep is an interesting idea - and probably safer than just unplugging the drive.

    BTW, the HD that won't disconnect is 1TB, and the HD that does disconnect (on the other computer) is .5TB, so that is consistent with your observation.

    Thanks Osaban.
     
  6. caperjack

    caperjack Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Posts:
    2
    when this happened to be in days gone bye, i use to log out of windows and back in and then do the use shutdown usb device and it would no long say it was in use and would shutdown
     
  7. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Posts:
    1,044
    seems everyone is using a different trick - I usually close explorer (or in my case XYplorer ) and that does it. Seems to me that releasing the drive from explorer is also releasing it from Shadowprotect (assuming no backup is running at the time). I do this when the normal disconnect via "Safely remove" throws up the errors as described.
     
  8. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    5,097
    The device was in use message usually indicates that a user may have visited a directory on the device - even if the user is not doing anything at that time - i.e. just sitting there.

    The device cannot be unmounted and then safely removed until the user relinquishes its visit to the directory in the device by moving out of the device's directory location.

    Alternatively, the root or admin account can be used to unmount the device provided no active command is executing against it which would override a user's location at a directory on the device.

    I would not remove any connected device to a system until the device is safely powered down. One way to do this may be by using Disk Utiliity.

    -- Tom
     
  9. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Caperjack - Your idea didn't work for me.

    Beethoven - Yours didn't work either.

    My system just doesn't want to let go of that hard drive.:D

    I am fine with Osaban's suggestion to put the computer into sleep mode and then unplug the drive. I can't believe there is any disk activity occurring in sleep mode that could cause a problem.

    Lotusclat79 - I'm not sure what you mean by "disk utility".
     
  10. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Posts:
    4,222
    I don't know whether to trust this article:
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/254868/safely_remove_usb_drives_just_by_unplugging_them.html
     
  11. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Posts:
    6,029
    Maybe there's a backup image mounted in ShadowProtect?

    Or it it monitoring changes since the last backup?
     
  12. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    5,097
    Hi LenC,

    If you are using a Windows OS you may be out of luck. I use a Linux system with a Disk Utility which is very useful in situations like this.

    -- Tom
     
  13. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Osaban -

    Yeah - Interesting article, my hard drive is already set as the article recommends. So maybe I've been worrying for no reason. But as you said - should we trust the article?

    Mirimir -

    To the best of my knowledge, an image is not mounted unless I execute a specific command, which I rarely do. Also, pretty sure it does not do any realtime monitoring of changes.
     
  14. whitedragon551

    whitedragon551 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Posts:
    3,189
    Location:
    USA
    Ive never used the safely remove drive feature at home or in a corporate environment. This goes for external HDs ranging anywhere from 320Gb to 2TB drives, thumb drives anywhere from 1Gb to 32Gb, and even cell phones in MTP mode where you can access the internal MicroSD card. Never once have I had an issue.

    OP just for giggles try uninstalling your backup software and rebooting. If the issue goes away its an issue with the backup software.
     
  15. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Posts:
    4,222
    Well the more I look at it and the more I think what the article suggests is within windows, it is not an opinion or a workaround. It really looks like we've all been worrying for nothing. This is even confirmed by whitedragon's experience in a corporate environment.
    Thanks LenC for bringing this issue up, from now on I will 'enjoy' pulling the plug!
     
  16. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I agree - I'm pulling the plug - makes life a little easier around here.

    Thanks everyone for your comments - this was really very informative.
     
  17. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    I've noticed one issue when I do this (disconnect the hard drive without using "safe to remove" icon). When I replug the drive, the drive appears for an instant in MY COMPUTER and then disappears right away, so I can't access the drive.

    I can get around it in 2 ways - neither of which are perfect...

    - reboot with the HD connected to the computer
    - unplug and replug the drive several times (and eventually it is recognized and stays recognized)

    I've tried plugging it into a different USB slot, but same thing happens. I guess I can live with it, but anyone have any thoughts as to why this might happen?

    Thanks,
    Len
     
  18. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    5,097
    Usually, when you get the message "this device is currently in use..." it means that you have perhaps positioned to a folder in the drive from possibly a Termianal command line window (only one possibility) in which case you have to position to some other directory outside the device that was mounted prior to the operation in progress even if you were not doing anything at that directory position - the system counts being positioned at a directory in the device as the device being busy - usually something one forgets about (as in my case most of the time).

    If you do this, then ejection should occur in a straightforward way.

    Otherwise, reconsider using the "safe to remove" icon technique.

    -- Tom
     
  19. The Red Moon

    The Red Moon Registered Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Posts:
    3,872
    Im aware of the safely remove hardware function in windows.Im just wondering if there is a similar function in the linux operating system.?
     
  20. WSFuser

    WSFuser Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Posts:
    10,632
    In Linux you unmount the drive. This is usually done through the file manager (Nautilus/Files, Konqueror, Thunar, etc) however you can also unmount a drive from the terminal.
     
  21. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Posts:
    5,097
    Yes, in fact there is.

    You can do it in one of several ways, either through the command line in a Terminal window by issuing the umount /dev/sxxn , for example, where xx are alpha characters and n is a numeral that describe the drive partition, or by using the Disk Utility GUI to Unmount the drive.

    -- Tom
     
  22. J_L

    J_L Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Posts:
    8,516
  23. act8192

    act8192 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2006
    Posts:
    1,273
    @LenC,
    You may want to check event log, the System section, for error DISK, soon after not being able to remove. I had several of those.
    I had and still have infrequent issues with one 500g drive which just will not allow safe removal because something keeps it busy. Once, maybe twice, there was a quickie popup about broken $MFT or MFT$ - I suspect master file table.

    So my procedure is that if it refuses to be released, I just power down the laptop, Windows cleans up things and all is well.
    Someone suggested just logging out - that trick I haven't tried.
    I also think that having the drive powered through a hub never fails, but plugged into the laptop it may.

    Just my anecdotal 2cents.
     
  24. LenC

    LenC Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Posts:
    846
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Tom -

    I'd like to use the "safe to remove" icon. As I originally posted, I always get the message that the device is in use.

    Act8192 -

    As you suggested, I'll check event viewer, but unlocker tells me what is causing the problem. It is Shadow Protect, which is setup for overnight backups. Maybe event viewer will provide some additional information.
     
  25. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    Posts:
    6,468
    After years of pulling out flash drives without safely removing them, i dont really see that much benefit if you arent storing important files in the drive but i still do it with my backup HDD, just in case!
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.