Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

USB flash drives are an essential tool for any admin but I find the process of safely removing a flash drive under Windows to be inconvenient (click the tray icon, find your drive in the too-much-information USB bus tree, click stop, etc...). I know that most times you can just pull the drive out but I never feel comfortable doing that.

Is there something better than what windows provides for safe removal?

share|improve this question
You really don't have to do it since Windows XP, since this system has write cache turned off for removable storage devices by default. You could even turn it off in Windows 2000, but not many people knew about it and everyone became accustomed to "removing safely" when there's no need to any more. – macbirdie Apr 30 '09 at 16:52
Are you telling me all that time I've wasted doing the whole "remove safely" bs has all been for NOTHING? I had no idea that was unnecessary on XP and forward. – Joseph Apr 30 '09 at 16:56
@macbirdie Be careful, though. Removing Safely will guarantee that any files currently being written to the drive complete. If you're copying a large file to the drive or even a series of files, you could end up not getting all your files. – a_hardin Apr 30 '09 at 17:00
You should probably rename this question to something like "Quickest way to safely remove USB devices under Windows?" since you accepted an answer with more than one click when you asked for one click. – Wayne Koorts Apr 30 '09 at 21:31
up vote 12 down vote accepted

If you know the drive letter, you can single-left click on the Safely Remove Hardware tray icon, then just click the drive you want to remove.

share|improve this answer
Well blow my lips off, I never knew you could left click that icon :) – Arnold Spence Apr 30 '09 at 16:55
Yeah, I just discovered it not too long ago. I can't say for sure, but I think in Windows Vista/7, the left-click is improved a little and they show the drive name. – a_hardin Apr 30 '09 at 16:59
That's a really bad piece of UI design! Who ever left clicks on those things except to bring up a window?! – Chris Roberts Apr 30 '09 at 17:30

On Vista, you can right click on the drive itself in My Computer and select "Safety Remove Hardware"

share|improve this answer

I use a little utility called RemoveDrive that allows me to add 'Eject USB' to my backup script. Saves two clicks per day!

share|improve this answer

you do a shortcut to:

RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

And then you set an hotkey for that, like ctrl+alt+R

hotkey = remove hardware


share|improve this answer

Just remove it. I have never safely removed anything for a decade. I just yank the sucker out. No kittens have died.

share|improve this answer
I have sometimes had a "Delayed write failed" error, upon doing that. – Blorgbeard May 4 '09 at 4:37
yes, but how many kittens died? – Mikeage May 14 '09 at 19:19

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.