How To Fix Problem Ejecting USB Mass Storage Device Using Unlocker

Most of us who often use USB flash drives come across a Windows error, saying there is a ‘Problem ejecting USB mass storage device’. Further you are told that the ‘device is currently in use’, and are asked to ‘close any programs or windows that might be using the device, and then try again’.


You search for any open folders or programs accessing the USB drive, and dutifully close all of them, to only find that the problem still exists. The reason is that some processes such as the Windows indexing service keep running in the background locking your USB drive, thus preventing it’s safe removal.


We have already posted on how to unlock files and folders when you come across errors such as ‘Cannot delete File or Folder’ using Tizer Unlocker. Unlocker is yet another easy to use freeware which can unlock files, folders, and also USB devices.

Here are the steps to safely remove and eject USB device using Unlocker:

1. Download and install Unlocker (download link at bottom). Though we find Unlocker to be a highly useful free program, we do not like the fact that it tries to install some crappy 3rd party software such as the QuickStores Bar and eBay shortcuts to your PC.

During the setup, uncheck the radio button ‘Install the new QuickStores Bar’ before clicking ‘Next’.unlocker-installation-avoid-quickstores-bar-setup

Also avoid Ebay shortcuts in the ‘Choose Compoenents’ dialog of the setup wizard by unselecting the check box before hitting the ‘Install’ button.


2. Unlocker installs itself as a right click shell extension. In order to unlock your USB flash drive, right click on the drive icon in Windows Explorer, and select ‘Unlocker’. When prompted for UAC (User Account Control) confirmation, click ‘Yes’ to run the program.unlocker-right-click-shell-extension-context-menu

3. This will bring up Unlocker’s main window showing you all the processes that are locking the USB device. In our case, we found that the Windows 7 Search Indexing as well as Windows Media Player’s library scanning processes have locked down the folders on our external hard drive.

You may want to remove Index Locations in Windows 7 to further avoid locking down of your USB device or external hard disk. If you are also facing the problem with Windows Media Player indexing music folders on your USB drive, then remove folders from Windows 7 library, so that they do not automatically get included by WMP.


4. Click ‘Unlock All’ to stop all the processes from accessing files or folders on the USB device.

5. That’s it. Now click on the ‘Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media’ icon in the system tray and eject your USB device.  safely-remove-hardware-eject-media-tray-icon

Download Unlocker

Works with Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP.

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10 Responses

  1. Jehna says:

    Thank you! I already lost precious pictures by getting frustrated and unplugging my old mass storage. Thank you for saving my current one!

  2. Noel says:

    OH S***! This is so good that I’m willing to pay for it! Thanks for all the help.

  3. kubow says:

    There’s a problem with win7

    unlocker cannot find any blocking app and thus it cannot unloct the drive to unmount….

    thats a pitty
    because this prg was very handy….

  4. Toi says:

    After I tried it and failed to eject my USB-MASS-STORAGE drive i got the information saying I can’t use my hard drive anymore until I format it

  5. Todd says:

    I’m sorry, all I have to say is, Really, C’mon Microsoft, you can make this easier for people, can’t you?

  6. SteveHill says:

    I uninstalled real player and it fixed the problem.

  7. SteveHill says:

    I uninstalled real player and it fixed the problem.

  8. SteveHill says:

    I uninstalled real player and it fixed the problem.

  9. Zaq says:

    How did you get this to work with Windows 7? Because I installed it (v.1.9.1) and am getting nothing in the right click menu at all for it. I’ve gone through the install process carefully, and couldn’t find any setting that I was missing. So what am I doing wrong? Any help would be appreciated.