Why can’t I “Safely Remove” my external hard drive?
Question by Phil V /

I recently purchased a Hitachi Simple Tough 320g external hard drive. I wanted it to store my music, videos, pictures, documents etc. and hoped to use it like a gigantic flash drive.

After I moved all my stuff, I tried using Windows “Safely Remove” feature, but I keep getting an error message that the drive is “in use” and to stop any programs that may be using the drive and try again. I’ve looked & looked, but I can’t seem to find anything that is “using” the drive. HELP!

Also, how come the properties for this drive show only 298 GB of space? I realize the drive needs some allocation space, but 22 GB?

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Answers (27)
  • IceMan59

    Try stopping the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Worked for me. Microsoft needs to fix this.

    • Lieks

      Thank you :) been searching for a while for a solution to this. Very neat!

  • Minos Daedalus

    I bumped into this thread and read about the disk space giving by the manufacture and the attempted explanation. The explanation of Tina missed something. if you want to calculate in one unit such as kB (B for byte and lower case b for bit) that stands for kilo bytes whereas kilo stands for 10³. So 1 giga byte (giga = 10^9) are 1,000 mega bytes (mega = 10^6) are 1,000,000 kilo bytes are 1,000,000,000 bytes. The failure goes to the operating system which suggerate you have for example a 596 giga byte hdd instead of a 640 giga byte hdd which is acutally untrue. The unit is simply wrong; there 1 gigi byte that is 1024^3 bytes (1 gi * 1024 = 1024 mibi bytes; 1024 mi * 1024 =  1.048.576 kibi bytes; 1.048.576 ki * 1024 = 1.073.741.824 bytes). And here comes the point where Tina is right: calculate from gigi byte to giga byte (kilo = 1000; kibi = 1024). So you have to do (640 * 1000^3) / (1024^3). That is equal to 596,05. So 640 giga bytes are 596,05 gigi bytes (the 0.05 difference is a physical matter of producing hard drives). The industries producing hard disk drives use the International System of Units (SI) so kilo is 10^3, mega is 10^6 and giga 10^9. Just the operating systems like Windows don’t use that system and is telling you that a 640GB hard drive is a 596GB (giga byte) hard drive.

    For further information check out on wikipedia with the keywords “binary prefix” and “decimal prefix”.

  • Kerryyap

    Thanks to jdpage, your solution work for me ^^

    By the person had the same problem

  • jdpage

    I found that if I disable indexing on the drive, I can go from not being able to remove to being able to remove.

  • Philv01226

    First of all, I want to thank everyone for their in-put. MUO & forums like this are always so helpful.
    I have found the ULTIMATE answer to this and many more of my computer problems.
    I stopped using Windows!
    I switched my operating system to Ubuntu (on the recommendation of MUO – THANK YOU VERY MUCH!), and I have had nearly zero issues since.
    Don’t be afraid. Walk toward the light. You’ll be happy you did. I am.

  • Belfastian

    Hello, using Windows7 & just bought a 80GB external HDD (Core by CNM & powered by USB), formatted to exFAT (choice of this or NTFS only and noticed no difference [so far] and has a folder of films at 23.6GB) and same problem – “cannot remove, blah, blah…”   so ran Task Manager but no sign of ‘Crypserv.exe’ [mentioned above] or anything being used, so; Right-click the External HDD/PROPERTIES/HARDWARE [choose drive but should already be ‘highlighted’]/PROPERTIES/CHANGE SETTINGS [another window pops up]/POLICIES – then choose your option. I already had the 1st (QUICK REMOVAL) and changed to 2nd (SAFELY REMOVE feature), Rebooted computer but made no difference – same message. So, as it was set as ‘QUICK REMOVAL’ (back to 1st choice again), unplugged the HDD, REBOOTED [again] then connected it back to check and films still there and tried the ‘SAFELY REMOVE’  feature and it worked! Could have been a fluke or just changing the settings over but just thought to post my experience. If you try this, hope it works for you.

  • Trangen

    I tried this, it did not help.
    “decided to delete a RECYCLE BIN hidden folder that appears in my External HDD basic folder!!!! then the system perfectly removes the drive!!!! GOOD LUCK!!!! “

  • Jimkazas

    hi! I had the same problem and I just found the solution!!! the problem was that i could only safely remove my HDD if I would connect the USB cable and safely remove without doing anything. I read all the comments here and decided to delete a RECYCLE BIN hidden folder that appears in my External HDD basic folder!!!! then the system perfectly removes the drive!!!! GOOD LUCK!!!!

  • Thug_ashes

    This is very simple… If anyone else will encounter something like this, just log off your PC and log back on. Then you can safety remove your flash drive or Eternal HDD… harharhar

  • Ryan Dube

    Phil – You will always get this error whenever even just a single app is accessing the drive. You can even just have Windows Explorer open with the drive directory displayed and Windows will tell you that the drive is in use. It may be possible that one of those shortcuts you removed from your external drive were open and connected to the directory on your PC? Anyway glad to see it cleared up! I just wanted to mention that I see this all the time and it always comes down to an app accessing the external drive, sometimes in ways that aren’t very obvious.

    • Maga1

      Sounds like the culprit, i shut down my system with the on/off computer casing button when the screen had frozen up, ever since I’ve had problems with my external harddrive.  First I wasnt allowed access so had to give full permissions all round, next i found recyclers (similar to recycle bin) in it, next windows files appeared in it, 2 failed saves and now im having the same problems, cannot disconnect it even when gamebooster 3 has shut down all unnecessary programs and processes.  I’ve put some games on it and the update services of 2 may be causing my problems, but at least i can still use it

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