Safely Remove Hardware in Windows 7

If you are using Windows 7, you may notice a long wait when you want to use the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media’s tray icon to remove your USB drive or other hardware safely. There is no explanation about this problem from Microsoft, but by looking at its behavior, it seems that when user clicks the icon, Windows tries to populate all the devices and printers attached to your computer. This is just my observation, so it may not exactly the reason.

When you click the Safely Removal Hardware’s icon on system tray (see Figure 1), after long delay, a popup menu appears. The first entry on the popup menu is Open Devices and Printers (see Figure 2). If you click this menu, the Devices and Printers window appears. Look at all devices and printers listed there, especially printers. If you have network printer listed there, and at this time you are not on the network the printer belong to, you may see a progress bar on the address bar near the top of the window. At this time, Windows tries to find information about that particular network printer, and because the computer is not currently attached to that network, the process will take longer until Windows realizes it cannot get it after a timeout period.

The Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media's icon

Figure 1: The Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media’s icon

The popup menu

Figure 2: The popup menu

Certainly Windows has a list of devices attached to computer because it can detect when you plug a new device. However, when the user clicks the Safely Removal Hardware’s icon, Windows seems to build a new list, and because of the scenario as explained in previous paragraph, it takes longer time.

I happen to have this problem. One of the printers listed is a network printer that cannot be reached by Windows. After deleting that printer, the delay is just under 5 seconds, compare to more than 30 seconds before.

What if you cannot delete the printer?

In this case, if you just want to remove drive attached through USB, do not use icon on system tray, instead use Windows Explorer. In Explorer right click the drive that you want to remove then select Eject from the popup menu (see Figure 3). Using this method is faster even if you do not have printer problem as above.

Eject menu

Figure 3: Eject menu

If you are using Total Commander, you need to list the drives first (see Figure 4) and then right click the drive that you want to eject to display the popup menu. You can make a customized menu or toolbar to go to the list  of the drives from any folder by using the cm_OpenDrives command.

List of drives inside your computer in Total Commander

Figure 4: List of drives inside your computer in Total Commander

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