Problem ejecting USB mass storage device: common fixes

Problem ejecting USB mass storage device

If you have a problem ejecting USB mass storage device, you came to the right place. Throughout this article, we’ll cover the most common fixes.

USB mass storage devices are one of the most common ways people backup their data or transfer files to colleagues or friends. There are many types of USB devices like thumb drives, pen drives, external hard disks, solid-state drives, and some others.

No matter which of these you are using, you will eventually come across this problem on your Windows PC.

Table of Contents

  1. Problem ejecting USB mass storage device: common fixes
    1. Close open programs
    2. Restart File Explorer
    3. Shut Down Your Computer
  2. Wrap Up

Problem ejecting USB mass storage device: common fixes

There are many reasons why this can happen. Sometimes there are files on the device that may still be open, or there might be other background processes that do not allow the safe removal of the device.

No matter what it is, you shouldn’t unplug the USB  mass storage device before it is safe to do so. This could cause corrupted files and, in some cases, even lead to damage to the portable drive.

So, whenever you get this error, there are some common fixes you can apply. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Problem ejecting usb mass storage device

Close open programs

The most common reason why Windows gives you that error is that some files from the USB device might still be open. Let’s say you have a photo on the device that you opened.

And while it is still open, if you try to remove the drive Windows will give you the error. So, in this fix, you need to figure out the applications that might still be running the files from the device.

Maybe you still have a file open in Microsoft Word or a photo open in Microsoft Photos or other imaging apps. Find all these programs and close them one by one.

After that, you can again try removing your USB device. If this doesn’t fix your problem, try the solution below.

Restart File Explorer

File Explorer (or Windows Explorer) is basically what allows you to browse and manage files on your Windows PC. So, whenever you are surfing different files on your computer, you are essentially using Windows/File Explorer.

When any files from your USB device are open, and you can’t find ways to close them, it is a good idea to restart Windows/File Explorer. This will close those files and allow you to safely remove your USB device. Let’s take a look at the steps involved here.


  • Open Task Manager. The easiest way to do this is by pressing the “Ctrl + Alt + Delete” keys on your keyboard simultaneously;
  • A blue screen will appear. Click on “Task Manager”;

  • This will open up the Task Manager application. Make sure you are on the “Processes” tab;
Problem ejecting usb mass storage device

  • In the list of processes, locate “Windows Explorer”;
  • Left-click on it and click on “Restart”;
Problem ejecting usb mass storage device

  • This will restart Windows Explorer and you can try removing your USB mass storage device again. It should work this time.

If this method doesn’t work for you, you need to move on to the next fix we’re listing above.

Shut Down Your Computer

One of the common fixes for a lot of computer or smartphone-related problems is to switch off your device and turn them back on. We are going to do the same in this method as well.

An important thing to note here is that the USB device needs to remain plugged in throughout the below steps. Only in the last step will you have to remove it.


  • Click on the Windows icon at the lower-left corner of your screen to open the Start Menu;
  • Select the Power button and then “Shut down”. This should shut down your computer;
Problem ejecting usb mass storage device

  • Now, once your computer is shut down, press the power button and start it again;
  • As soon as your computer has restarted, try removing the USB device. This time it should not return the error.

Wrap Up

Having issues ejecting USB mass storage devices is bound to happen every now and then.

It is not too big of a problem and happens due to the background processes that might be holding on to the files in the USB devices.

It can also be the case that you might have kept the files in the device open.

Regardless, you can follow the above fixes to solve your problem.

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