Cannot stop device right now

Whenever I try to use the “Safely remove hardware” option in windows to remove the hard drive installed in the modular bay of my laptop, I get the following message:

As far as I could tell, nothing was actually using the drive. I’m only using it to backup files on at the present time.

I disabled Windows indexing, thinking that a system process had the device in use, but that didn’t make a difference.

So I downloaded Filemon for Windows from hoping I would be able to see what file was open on the device.

Well wadda ya know … turns out Norton Utilities “Protected Recycle Bin” had the doggone thing open.

When I turned OFF the Norton extensions on the recycle bin for drive D:, I was able to stop the device and safely eject it.


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    • Curtis Burns on 04 Aug 2007 at 5:29 pm
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    I did the ‘recycle bin’ posted by Ligner on June 30th, 2007, and it did not make a difference.


    • marc on 23 Jul 2007 at 4:25 pm
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    autojohn your suggestion of turning off avg anti virus just saved me from a long and tiring night thanks

    • Kutta on 16 Jul 2007 at 3:16 pm
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    Another solution: if you have Diskeeper (defrag utility), try shutting down DKPerf.exe. My USB Disk could not be stopped before I killed that process.

    • Ligner on 30 Jun 2007 at 9:44 pm
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    To those people who do not have Norton but experiencing the same “Safely Remove Hardware” issue with their USB HDD try following:
    1. Right click on Recycle Bin, go to Properties.
    2. Check box for “Configure drive independently” option.
    3. Click the tab with your USB HDD (usually last one).
    4. Check the box with option for: “Do not move files to the Recycle Bin. Remove files immediately when deleted”.

    NOTE that files deleted from the your USB HDD drive will no longer move to your Recycle Bin, but will be deleted permanently.

    Good luck

    • nancyNW on 29 Jun 2007 at 5:48 pm
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    Changing to Optimize for Performance worked. Thsi has been driving me nuts for awhile now so it’s great to find something that worked! Thanks mucho!!

    • Igor on 13 Jun 2007 at 11:29 am
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    Try this one This toolz replaces Safely Remove Hardware icon & you’ll never see this annoying window. It can shows you instead all the programs locked USB device. As for me, I like this utility because it free me from another annoyance – it allows to hide USB devices (like SATA drives) from the stopping menu.

  1. Hi all solve it with this little utility that is free a free utility to download.

    • Ed on 21 Mar 2007 at 11:40 am
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    I was having the same problem. I have a Western Digital external hard hrive, the “MyBook”. I do not have Norton.
    If there are any programs open that used the MyBook drive, I have to close them before I can stop it for removal.

    Example… I plug in the MyBook hard drive and open a file stored on it using Photoshop. After editing the file I resave it, minimize Photoshop and and click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon. It will tell me it can’t stop it right now and to try again later. I have to exit Photoshop, cick the Safely Remove Hardware icon again and now it will work normally.

    Hopefully this will help some of you.

    • pappy on 20 Feb 2007 at 3:48 pm
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    I had the same issue with two different USB thumb drives.One is an old drive.
    I ran Filemon even though this is a new build of XP and I never used Norton. I did find a utility I had installed that was indeed accessing the drive periodically. Once I excluded the drive from the utility all was well again. Try that suggestion but you may have to set the filters to look only at that device since there is alot going on. You also can find Diskmon with that link, which is another pretty nice utility.

    • Bo on 25 Jan 2007 at 2:49 pm
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    Well, I had the same problem, tried most of these suggestions, and finally got ‘er taken care of using Durran’s suggestion. I don’t have Norton, and am not smart enough to find the process accessing the drive using procmon.exe, but I stopped the iPod service, and was able to remove my external USB (Maxtor) hard drive (it is in performance mode, by the way).

    I don’t own an iPod, not sure why that service affects my USB drive, but perhaps it’s an iTunes thing (I do have music on the drive).

    • Reid Railton on 21 Jan 2007 at 1:15 pm
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    Lots of thanks for that. Stopped a massive pain and irritation.

    • Durran on 05 Dec 2006 at 11:48 am
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    To All,
    Each of these resolutions is good for specific issues with the iPod not disconnecting but doesn’t work for all. For example, it didn’t work for me with a second hand iPod that I tried to connect to my friends PC. The PC had iTunes, but told me that the software for this particular iPod was not installed and to install it. I didn’t have time for that and just wanted my iPod back. I figured out the problem and put the fix below. It also works if you are still having troubles disconnecting your iPod and have tried the above eject methods. This works if you are running Win2k or WinXP.

    -Right click on My Computer

    -Click Manage

    -From the list on the left click the plus by “Services and Applications”

    -From the new list click on “Services”

    -Now on the right find the entry which says “iPod Service”

    -Right click on that entry and select “Stop” from the menu

    -Windows will shut the service down, it might take a minute.

    -Now you can safely eject your iPod, you should also notice that most of these issues are caused because the iPod service does not release the iPod from sync even though it may not be acting on the iPod at that time. The sync icon on the iPod will disappear when you stop the “iPod Service”


    • Allen on 13 Nov 2006 at 10:14 am
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    Nathan you are a superstar, your solution worked for me and for months I have lost data unplugging as it was optimised for quick removal. My disk is safe now and also much much quicker.


    • Graham on 23 Oct 2006 at 9:48 pm
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    I have been having problems with USB stick and USB MP3 (my MP3 is now u/s after being unable to stop the device and removing it anyway. I’ve found simply that shutting down all programmes like Excel and Word that have accessed the USB alows me to shut down the device. This is probably not the root cause of everyones problems but is possibly a good starting point.

  2. > Find explorer.exe and right click on it and
    > select

  3. Real simple way to fix this is open Windows Task Manager ( Cntrl alt del) and select the processes tab. Find explorer.exe and right click on it and select “End Process” you will notice that the task bar disapeared and all of the finder windows closed… Great! that means it worked… now select file above the process tab and chose “New Task (Run…)” and enter “explorer.exe” and hit enter.

    Now go eject your drive in the task bar using the “Safely remove hardware” green arrow.


    • Liz on 18 Sep 2006 at 1:40 pm
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    I wanted to report that the answer about “any AV” is probably correct! After weeks and weeks of trying to find an answer, yours was right-on. I have PC-Tools, and when I exited from it, I was able to disconnect my MP-3 player without the message finally. THANKS!!!!!

    • Mike on 12 Sep 2006 at 8:35 pm
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    Well thats what you get for using Norton’s i suppose. It’s a virus in itself

    • Sanket on 04 Sep 2006 at 12:42 am
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    In my case,closing the outlook worked in removing the USB device safely.Thanks for all the comments….

    • Craig on 25 Aug 2006 at 9:17 pm
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    Thanks! Only correct answer I could find anywhere!!

    • whew! on 05 Aug 2006 at 1:36 pm
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    Aha! Thanks, turning off Outlook worked! Why on earth was it accessing my usb drive anyway? What a horrible program.

    • workjohnout on 16 Jul 2006 at 2:14 pm
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    I had the same problem…usb drive would not release…no norton stuff…in my case it was AVG anti-virus that was hanging it up…shut that off and the usb drive released instantly after an hour of not releasing.

    • James Elliott on 04 Jul 2006 at 6:39 pm
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    I have the problem of not being able to “safely remove hardware” but do not have Norton. I use AVG, and tried disabling that (and Zone Alarm), to no avail. Then i decded to search my system Registry for “Symantec” and actually found a number of hits. So … it looks like my computer may have come with Norton on it, 4 years ago, and I have replaced it with AVG and forgotten. I would have uninstalled Norton first, but in my expereince Norton never really goes away 100%. So I ran Symantec’s uninstall tool (SymNRT)which removes all traces of Norton AV and Norton Secutiry, versions from 2006 back to 2003, and guess what? – I can now “safely remove hardware”. Thanks ever so much for pointing me in the right direction. I have a few other computers to run SymNRT on now.

    • jk on 22 Jun 2006 at 10:09 pm
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    was messing around w/ the policy settings. It worked one time for me, then after that, it did not work anymore. filemon did not show anything…

    • hala on 25 May 2006 at 12:05 am
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    I had the same problem I just search for any additional protection software then I found the the HP Pc protection is running, after closing the software it worked normally

    • marko on 21 May 2006 at 12:20 am
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    had the same problem, followed the advice of changing the drives setting for performance still didnt work, simply put i had the explorer window open still from the drive, this was enough to to stop it from stopping.

    Stop all programs or windows that pertain to the drive in any way and it should close 🙂

    • FastPauly on 08 May 2006 at 12:09 pm
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    I have found that if whatever program accessed the USB device then that program must be closed before Windows will grant the safe removal….that includes Outlook or any other e-mail client.

    • Brenda on 05 May 2006 at 5:41 am
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    I went through all of this, turning off Norton’s recycle, etc. It finally worked when I went into policies. Optimized for performance was checked and greyed out, but when I turned off write caching under optimized for performance, I was able to get the safe to remove message. Don’t know if this will be a reliable solution, but it worked once.

  4. Craig: Yes.

    • craig on 01 May 2006 at 1:53 am
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    so if it is set to optimize for quick removal than i can just pull the plug whenever?

  5. Hey there, I was surfing and came across a thread discussing the same issue. One of them recommended a software to “unlock the file handle”. I’ve used it and it works 😉 Hope it will help you too.

    Here’s the thread.
    And here’s the freeware.


    • Dan on 07 Apr 2006 at 9:57 am
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    I tried the advice of that one previous post dealing with what settings the drive has and it solves the problem. When it was optimised for quick removal the drive gave me that error “Generic volume cannot be stopped” once i switched it to performance it works perfectly fine, no errors at all when I try to stop it.

    • Valnomien on 02 Apr 2006 at 5:45 am
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    well i do not have norton utilities but i found that if you have a window open for that ext drive that i would usually get the same error message that it cannot be stopped and once i closed all that windows and or app i may have executed from that drive then all is fine. you see if an image [from ext drive] is mounted to say daemon tools you don’t have to be writing or reading from it but just the fact it’s open can cause this error which it took me a while to figure out was one of my recent culprits. so for some of you that do not have norton and you still get this problem i hope my post helps.

    • bruton on 14 Mar 2006 at 3:53 pm
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    I don’t know how to thank you.. I could not have figured out that that was the problem even though I thought for zillion years.. You saved me, let there be someone to save you in your hard times too.. Cheers..

  6. Nice post.
    I have a strage problem with an externel USD HDD. Sometimes, the device is not rcognized by its name. The name of the device is SAMSUNG, but the name displayed into the device list is SAESUNG. Of course, I cannot read or write it. Few days later, the correct name does appear and I can use for several minutes.

    thak you

    • seagate on 10 Mar 2006 at 3:58 am
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    Having read nathan’s comment (#12) I checked the hardware property and it is clearly written when optimized for quick removal device can be removed w/out using Safe Removal Icon.
    There you go!

    • seagate on 10 Mar 2006 at 3:50 am
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    I have reinstalled winXp fresh and the first time I plug in my USB drive it can not be stopped right now, so there must be something else fundamentally wrong.

    • steve on 02 Mar 2006 at 11:55 am
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    You Rock, it was norton. Thanks so much

    • Nathan on 15 Dec 2005 at 6:31 pm
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    A problem with XP (I don’t have Nortons on my comp so that wasn’t the problem) is that you can set ‘policies’ for the USB drive. If you want to change them then go to the drive’s properties ie right click and choose properties then go to hardware and select your generic storage device and go to the properties. Uner this there is a policies tab. Here you can check if the device is optimised for performance or quick removal. If optimised for quick removal you get the error message that has been plaugin so many of us. If you choose to change it to performance then you need to make sure that you disable the device before you remove it. I think that the device shouldn’t be harmed if you remove it when optimised for performance if you don’t disbale it. Don’t hold me to that though and I am not game to try it. But if someone has an old usb drive they can afford to kill I would like to hear if they can just plug it in and pull it out a few times under these settings. Any way I hope this helped you out.

  7. Is your external connected via PCMCIA, USB, or firewire?
    What make and model is it? Have you tried contacting the manufacturer?

    • Nick on 12 Dec 2005 at 6:33 pm
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    I’ve been having this problem with my external drive that I use with my laptop. I don’t have Norton installed, but the drive still won’t stop. I don’t see anything in Filemon that should be accessing it, and the write light isn’t flashing. I’ve tried shutting off the drive, then disconnecting it, and I’ve tried disconnecting then powering down. The problem with this is the drive doesn’t like to come back up on the next plug in. It goes through various driver related “Please wait while windows configures your new hardware” notices but the drive doesn’t show up and cannot be accessed. I don’t want to have to shut down to remove the external drive. Please help!

  8. Utterly irritating. I’ve recently switched from Windows 2000 to Windows XP and found I can no longer unmount my USB flash disks, they permanently “cannot be stopped right now”.

    It’s a Jessops CF card reader with a 64mb CF card, incidentally. I’ve been monitoring the drive with Sysinternal’s FileMon tool (the next best thing to SnoopDos available on Windows) for quite some time, and can see no reads or writes whatsoever to the disk in question. No Norton Utilities here of course, and I’ve verified that System Restore isn’t monitoring the CF disk in some misguided attempt to be useful. This is getting to be quite frustrating.

    The device is also “Optimized for quick removal”, which is laughable given my current predicament, but at least means the Write Caching is disabled and the device should be removable. I’m not keen to just pull the device out as this led to corruption on the card once before, and I’m not happy about losing the data on it.

    So I’ll probably have to restart the computer to get this disk out of it safely, then forget all about it until the next time I connect the disk.

    Total frustration has now set in, after almost an hour of fiddling around with it. I’m loving this Windows eXPerience… really, I am.

    Homer: “And in case you didn’t realise, I was being sarcastic.”
    Marge: “Well, duh.”

    • Billy Mahood on 02 Dec 2005 at 11:48 am
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    Thank you very much. I have been plagued with this for some time and this solution is spot on. Thanks – Billy

  9. FWIW: I’ve uninstalled Norton protected recycle bin as I wasn’t using it.

    • Chinarut on 06 Sep 2005 at 10:40 pm
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    got it. do you already use the utliity Filemon to see what processes are keeping your device busy? I personally didn’t have to use the utility as Norton was the culprit.

    • Al Stephens on 06 Sep 2005 at 6:09 pm
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    Great tip! Thanks.

    • John Rankin on 06 Sep 2005 at 11:45 am
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    Well that’s a nice answer but I don’t have Norton, and I did a search to make sure. JR

    • Chinarut on 05 Sep 2005 at 5:29 am
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    did you try david’s suggestion above to make sure Norton Recycle Bin is disabled for your external drive(s)?

    • chris a on 31 Aug 2005 at 1:57 am
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    so i’m having this same problem and i don’t know anything how to fix it can you help me out and maybe guide me.

  10. you rock! i’ve been shutting/rebooting my computer to get around this issue and after a few months, it’s nice to see your post – it works…thanks!

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