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  • Safely Remove Hardware problem

    Posted on larryc43230 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Questions: Win10 Safely Remove Hardware problem

    • This topic has 19 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago.
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      • #2287945 Reply
        larryc43230
        AskWoody Plus

        I use an external 4TB USB hard drive, permanently attached to my Dell 8900 PC, to store my important documents and files. The PC is running Windows 10 Home Version 2004 (OS Build 19041.423), which apparently is the latest and greatest as of this date.

        Along with having BackBlaze running in the background to back up both my C:\ drive and this external drive in the cloud, I periodically use FastCopy and a Seagate Backup Plus portable 5TB USB 3.0 external hard drive to perform full backups of the external drive. The Seagate Backup Plus is normally kept in a safe place and not attached to the PC.

        When I do these periodic backups, I attach the Seagate Backup Plus drive to the PC using a USB3 cable and launch FastCopy. FastCopy performs an incremental backup, adding any new files to the backup drive. I’ve been using this method for the past three years, and this part always goes smoothly. It’s what happens next that has me concerned.

        After the backup has completed (and FastCopy tells me it’s “Finished”), I exit FastCopy and mouse down to the “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” icon in the System Tray and try to eject the backup drive. This worked fine for years, up until a few months ago (a couple of Windows Updates ago, anyway). Now, when I try to eject the drive, I always get the infamous “Device is currently in use” error message. I dismiss that message, wait a minute or so, and try again to eject the drive. This time, nothing happens. No successful ejection, no repeat of the “Device is currently in use” error, nothing.

        The drive still appears in Windows Explorer, so the ejection apparently hasn’t succeeded. I’m left asking myself whether it’s safe to physically remove the drive and return it to storage. Other than Windows Explorer and FastCopy, nothing has touched the drive, at least nothing should have. BackBlaze is not set up to back up that drive, since this drive is normally off-line. After trying several times to properly eject the drive, I gave up and physically removed it. This pattern has repeated every time I’ve done this backup over the past couple of months. The backup drive and the files stored on it seem to be fine after these “unnatural” ejections, but it still worries me that I could cause some sort of damage removing the drive this way.

        As a test, I rebooted the PC without the Seagate Backup Plus drive attached; attached the drive; and looked at the drive contents in Windows Explorer. I then closed the Windows Explorer window and tried to “Safely remove” the drive from the System Tray. The “Device is currently in use” message reared its ugly head again, and I was unable to properly eject the drive after several tries. As far as I can determine, at least that test eliminates FastCopy as the culprit.

        First, any idea as to what might be causing this glitch? Second, is it actually safe to just physically remove the drive under these circumstances? There shouldn’t be anything either reading or writing to the drive at that point, especially after waiting a minute or more before removing the drive. I guess I could shut down the PC, remove the backup drive, and restart, but I really don’t want to have to do that every time I do a backup.

        Larry

      • #2287960 Reply
        cyberSAR
        AskWoody Plus

        I get this periodically on different machines. Make sure windows isn’t trying to index the drive and any A/V isn’t trying to scan.

        Other than that, I’ve found waiting a few minutes and trying again usually works. If it doesn’t I do a shutdown and disconnect the drive.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2288215 Reply
          GoneToPlaid
          AskWoody Lounger

          This is the safe way to do it, whenever I encounter this issue.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2288612 Reply
          larryc43230
          AskWoody Plus

          You might very well have your finger on the problem. And it might take a few hours before I know for sure.

          When I right-clicked on the drive in File Explorer and selected Properties, I discovered that the “Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to properties” box was checked. I have no idea how that happened, but I’m confident it was something I did long ago. I unchecked that box; Windows asked whether I wanted to make the change to every file and directory on the drive and I said yes. A “Processing” box popped up, and it (presumably) has begun changing that attribute for every file on the drive. That’s 2.32TB worth of files and folders.

          It’s now been more than an hour, and Windows is still processing. If I’m lucky, once that’s finished I’ll again be able to Eject the drive without that error message appearing. I’ll report back.

          Larry

          • #2288621 Reply
            larryc43230
            AskWoody Plus

            Success!

            Windows took well over an hour to change that “index” attribute on all the files and folders on the backup drive, but it finally finished. The “In use” light continued to flicker for a few minutes; once it stopped, I was able to use the “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” thingy in the System Tray to eject the drive.

            My thanks to everyone for your suggestions. If the problem recurs (fingers crossed that it doesn’t), I’ll get back with you again.

            Larry

            2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2287966 Reply
        PKCano
        Da Boss

        In File Explorer, right click on the drive and choose “Eject.” I think it gives you 3 choices.

        • #2288613 Reply
          larryc43230
          AskWoody Plus

          Oddly, I don’t see any “Eject” option when I right-click on the drive in File Explorer (though it does show up in the “Safely Remove Hardware” gadget in the System Tray.

          Larry

          • #2288678 Reply
            Paul T
            AskWoody MVP

            Windows sometimes doesn’t provide eject in Explorer. I always use the tray icon for that reason.

            cheers, Paul

            1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2288004 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        You can run the free portable unlocker to see which app/service is locking your device, and unlock.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2288744 Reply
          GoneToPlaid
          AskWoody Lounger

          Yes, the free version of Unkocker can come in handy to see what service is retaining its hooks into a removable drive.

        • #2288745 Reply
          GoneToPlaid
          AskWoody Lounger

          This seems to be the case for any drive which is not a CD or DVD? That kind of makes sense since a burned CD or DVD could not be modified.

      • #2288036 Reply
        Bundaburra
        AskWoody Plus

        The Nirsoft utility OpenedFilesView may show why the drive is “currently in use”.  Run the utility, and in its “Full Path” column look for an entry beginning with your external drive’s drive letter.  If one is found, scroll across to look at “Process Name” – there could be a process still running which could be terminated or killed.

        Windows 10 Pro 64 bit 2004

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2288227 Reply
        GoneToPlaid
        AskWoody Lounger

        Hi Larry,

        Do you by chance have Quickbooks installed on your computer? I do. I had to disable some of its startup utilities which monitor Quickbooks files, wherever they are found on your computer’s hard drives. These utilities monitor the files for tampering or unauthorized copying of the files. You can use the Sysinternals

        I also disabled indexing on all of my removable backup drives. This is the first thing that I do whenever I attach a new and freshly formatted backup drive.

        Your Seagate external 4TB and 5TB drives use Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) technology. When you have finished writing a lot of new data to any SMR drive, it can take a while for the drive to move written data from the non-shingled areas of the drive to the shingled areas of the drive. Additionally, think of the shingled areas as being similar to the window blinds in the windows of a multi-story apartment building. Writing data to a given slat in one of the window blinds requires the drive to re-shingle all of the data on all of the higher slats on the given widow blind. This is why, after you see that after Fastcopy has finished copying new data to the removable drive,  you will see that the drive’s activity light continues to pulse. It can take several minutes for the drive to finish doing its SMR related activities.

        Best regards,

        –GTP

         

         

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2288626 Reply
          larryc43230
          AskWoody Plus

          I don’t have Quickbooks installed (I’ve never needed it), so that wasn’t the issue. As it turned out, indexing very likely was the issue. As I described in another reply, I discovered that indexing had somehow been turned on for that drive (maybe Windows does that automatically for any new drive?), and changing the “Indexed” attribute for all the files and folders on the drive seems to have resolved the problem.

          Thanks for the explanation re: SMR technology. That does indeed probably explain why, after either running FastCopy or changing that “Indexed” attribute, the drive activity light continues to flicker for a few minutes after the process ends. I’ll just need to be patient and wait for that light to go out.

          Larry

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2288752 Reply
            GoneToPlaid
            AskWoody Lounger

            Hi Larry,

            Hehe! It gets even more complex with SMR technology. Let me explain…

            1. The drive is doing its thing in terms of its SMR stuff.
            2. If your computer has an Intel CPU, then you also have Intel chipsets. The drivers for said Intel chipsets also load a rather well hidden disk cache utility which makes it “appear” that computers with Intel CPUs magically perform much faster when saving data to hard drives. In reality, data in the RAM disk cache must still be written to the hard drive, even though and within Windows, it “appears” that any copy, cloning or backup operation has already completed.

            Think about it. The drive itself might still be performing internal SMR operations. And perhaps your computer, which has an Intel CPU and Intel chipset, might still also be performing memory disk cache data transfers to the hard drive.

            If you use Disk Management to suddenly un-mount the drive while either 1 or 2 above are in process, then you could end up with bad (yet not really physically bad) sectors on your removable hard drive. This has happened to me on two brand new hard drives. Shutdown is the way to go, instead of Disk Management.

            Best regards,

            –GTP

             

            2 users thanked author for this post.
            • #2288772 Reply
              Paul T
              AskWoody MVP

              Intel chipsets also load a rather well hidden disk cache utility

              Do they? Are you talking about the RST driver?

              cheers, Paul

              • #2288845 Reply
                GoneToPlaid
                AskWoody Lounger

                It isn’t the RST driver. I don’t have it installed and never did install it. It is possible that the Intel chipsets themselves use some RAM to make it appear that files are copied more quickly?

              • #2288846 Reply
                Paul T
                AskWoody MVP

                Do you have the details of the caching driver used by Intel?

                cheers, Paul

      • #2288698 Reply
        JohnW
        AskWoody Plus

        Windows Resource Monitor (can be accessed from Task Manager > Performance Tab, link at the bottom of the Task Manager panel) will show all disk file activity for all attached drives.

        You can also “offline” the drive via Disk Management instead of shutting down. This has worked for me.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2288700 Reply
          larryc43230
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks! I think I’ve found the source of my issue (see above), but if it recurs I’ll look more closely with Resource Monitor, and use Disk Management as needed.

          Larry

          1 user thanked author for this post.
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