Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic volume’ device because a program is still using it

Posted by Planet Malaysia on December 26, 2007


 I have received the same error message “Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic Volume’ device because it is in use. Close any programs or windows that might be using the device, and try again later.” for many many times whenever I would like to disconnect my external USB hard disk drive in Windows Vista Ultimate X64

I'm sure I have stop accessing my USB drive, no program running on the desktop and I had tried many many solutions as suggested below:

The results are failed. WTH? Windows Vista! What kinds of background process that stop me? Google and googling for more than a day and still couldn't found any solution to solve this stupid problem. 

Finally I found the usual solution that used to unplug the external USB manually without safety remove option. Good solution? Please tell Microsoft. Again another better solution would be restart the Windows Vista, click on 'Safety Remove Hardware" and it worked for me. 

My suggestion is try option 2(restart) the box instead unplug the USB drive immediately.  Hope this can help if you couldn't found any solution like me. But if anyone have a better solution, please do share with us. Thanks.

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51 Responses to “Windows can’t stop your ‘Generic volume’ device because a program is still using it”

  1. D Mac on January 27th, 2008 8:32 am

    I use this program called unlocker 1.85

  2. peter on May 7th, 2008 5:36 pm

    cannot lock current drive-Syts.Rest

    I think its the Vietnamese that create these viruses. Also they disabled the system restore. chkdsk /f is disabled permanently.

  3. Galane on January 15th, 2009 4:32 pm

    What SHOULD happen when a user selects a device to Safely Remove is Windows should QUIETLY close all open file handles and flush all pending writes to the drive then say it’s OK to remove.

    If Windows thinks some file(s) still in use, it should tell the user which ones. If the user knows for sure that those files are NOT open, there should be a “smack Windows upside the head” button to force it to realize the files are not in use.

    But instead after years and years and several versions of Windows having USB support, we STILL get the same crap where Windows refuses to let go of things.

    I was hoping this would be cured in Vista. Nope! I bet Windows 7 will still do it.

  4. janus on February 1st, 2009 5:25 am

    this shouldn’t even be an option. restart and then safely remove usb drive? the system should work for us not us working around the system. i mean come on now i got wait to reboot. its annoying!

  5. Chris on February 18th, 2009 11:18 am

    wtf. yet again microsoft have released yet another OS which is incapable of safely removing usb storage devices. yes, you’ve told me its unsafe to remove. but instead of shutting down programs using the device, or at the very least listing these programs, you’ve left the investigation and grunt work up to the user.

    have they not considered completing the safely remove hardware functionality. or is it too difficult to implement.

  6. tom on February 18th, 2009 9:51 pm

    Theres also the option of optimizing it for quick removal which lets you just take it out saftly,but u do sacrifice some performance:
    1) go to my computer
    2) open the propeties of the drive by right clicking
    3) go to the hardware section and find your drive and click properties (one of the listings is your hard drive, dont touch that, you cant do it anyways)
    4) go to the policies tab of the newly open window.
    5) check optimized for quick removal.

    I did this on my flash drive and do not notice a major change in speed, but i never use the saftly remove and i have never lost any information :)

  7. DocWu on March 5th, 2009 10:32 am

    I just tried what tom suggested, but found the quick remove policies page greyed out.

    I tried using an unlocker utility and it showed a program that was keeping the USB drive from being released. It was a part of Windows Media Player.

    I used the unlocker to kill that process and the drive then could be safely removed.

    You might check for that. It looks like WMP takes over my drive. I hate WMP and never use it, but it’s still messing with things.

  8. Rob on July 26th, 2009 2:34 pm

    For anyone having this problem, I’ve found that if you open task manager, click ‘end process’ on explorer.exe, and then click file: new task, and enter explorer.exe, you should then be able to safely remove your usb device.

  9. Jun-an Liu on August 4th, 2009 5:00 pm

    I have a finding today regarding the problem on my windows XP platform. Hope this is helpful to you too.

    > insert USB disk but without access it, it can be removed successfully.

    > insert USB disk, if I viewed directory with picture and video in it. Then removing is always failed because the the problem “problem ejecting usb mass storage device” (even i already closed all windows).

    > finally, i found the preview feature in xp cause the problem. The preview locked the file even you close the window. (need more investigation)

    > solution: unregister preview of picture, video like follow, problem goes away:

    unregister video (*.avi, *.wmv etc):

    regsvr32 /u shmedia.dll

    unregister picture (*.pic)

    regsvr32 /u shimgvw.dll

    After that, you can still open these files using the default programmer. But they don’t lock these files after you close those applications.

    Of course, using “Unlocker” tools to solve the problem is also a solution.

    Jun-an Liu

  10. Darren on September 30th, 2009 5:30 pm

    I was getting this problem with a new external HDD that I just purchased. I am using Vista and the solution was that the files on the external drive were showing a preview so Windows would’nt let me remove the drive. It only happened after the file had been accessed on the external device, but all I had to do to fix it was go back into the device and change the view setting so that the preview was not being shown. I changed the view to “small icons” and then had no problem safely removing the device.

  11. Colin on October 17th, 2009 5:53 am

    I tried Rob’s solution and the great news is that Microsoft have “fixed” that so that solution doesn’t work in Windows 7. Changing the view settings as Darren suggested doesn’t work in Windows 7 either. The best solution is to install Linux but that isn’t possible for me sadly. For those others who suggested that future versions of windows wouldn’t be able to deal with USB devices properly: You were right Windows 7 is broken as well. You would think the alleged programmers at Microslop would have some vague pride in what they do but apparently not. Ah well a reboot and then all is well.

  12. Galane on October 17th, 2009 12:33 pm

    So I bet right on Windows 7. :( Why can’t MS get a clue? USB and firewire are designed for *removable* and *hot-pluggable* devices, therefore anything plugged into them ought to be released when the user wants them released.

    Instead we have Windows grabbing onto files on removable devices and threatening the user with file corruption.

  13. dossiej on October 31st, 2009 10:48 am

    Tried Darren’s solution and it worked!

  14. Beth on November 4th, 2009 1:40 pm

    Thanks, Rob. I did what you suggested with the explore.exe, and it worked!!! Thanks, again.

  15. AngryMSuser on January 6th, 2010 2:17 am

    As much of a Windows hater as I am, I do like windows 7, and it does run faster than XP x64. So far I haven’t come across anything I dislike (except not being able to get the OLD start menu back) besides this stupid error message. Restarting windows works because when windows restarts it closes all the handlers keeping the files locked, WTF can’t that be done when I click the button specifically designed for it!?!?! Let’s hope I don’t find too many more disappointments in Windows 7 :) Cheers all, and gl

  16. maya on January 7th, 2010 10:11 am

    wtf this is happening to me right now. oh my god this is ridiculous. i’m just trying to eject my hard drive again and again and bugger all is happening. with windows 7 goddamit. i would be so embarrassed if windows 7 was my idea you wouldn’t believe. i’d hate myself. i’d probably kill myself if i had been the dumbass who came up with windows 7. this kinda shit doesn’t happen with snow leopard. so i’m gonna shut down my computer, unplug my hard drive once it’s off, and get a mac. argh! windows just bites you in the ass all the time. rob and tom, thanks guys, but they just didn’t work. :(

  17. Ron Korn on January 15th, 2010 4:31 am

    Tom’s advice 2/18/09 is the definitive answer.
    If you set to Quick Removal you only have to unplug the device, no permission needed.
    WTG Tom. Thanks man!

  18. long nguyen on January 17th, 2010 9:04 am

    I’ve found a solution for vista 32 bit!!!!! Just ctrl + shift + esc and end the mobilesync process then ur done 😀

  19. Sandro on January 19th, 2010 8:28 pm

    WTH…I tried all this alternatives and any worked, it’s an abuse have to restart my computer only to remove and external drive. I’m using Windows 7 64 and it’s a shit, a lot of bugs. The only way I found to remove was manually removing, risking damage my External HD.

  20. Robb on January 29th, 2010 7:14 am

    I was finally able to “safely” remove my drive from Vista after:
    -I d/l unlocker to see what had a hold on me.
    -4 instances of explorer, on 1 file that I had already deleted.
    -I just opened task manager, killer explorer.exe, and then restarted it.

    So go either route, and you should be OK.

  21. max_wedge on February 19th, 2010 10:36 am

    All you guys carrying on about windows! The safely remove hardware option is for devices that need it. USB devices are automatically set to “optimise for quick removal” which means you don’t need to use the safe unplug utility. You can just pull it. You get data corruption if you pull the device without “safely removing” only if 1. write caching is enabled (optimise for performance)and 2. there is data in the cache waiting to be written to the device.

  22. Hezron Mainga on February 23rd, 2010 4:08 pm

    I am using Server Standard 2008. I think this should make u guys happy though i havent tested it for XP, Vista, and Window 7.

    Right click My computer -> choose Manage -> Right Click your usb Device or ext HDD -> choose offline;

    You can now remove your Usb device

  23. jonls on April 18th, 2010 6:54 am

    I just found the following trick to work in Windows 7. explorer.exe was holding a handle on the drive and nothing worked, not even killing explorer.exe. The following worked for me…

    Run “diskpart” as administrator. Type “list disk”. Find the disk you want to stop in the list and note the number. Select the disk by typing “select disk N” where N is the disk number. Now, type ‘list volume’ and find the correct drive letter. Again, note the number and select the volume with ‘select volume N’. The command ‘remove all dismount’ should now stop the drive.

  24. Reuf Hidic on April 23rd, 2010 5:43 am

    Anfotunetely I did wat Jonis suggested and now my I lost the Icon from Mycomputer for ever.
    Please help me!

  25. Reuf Hidic on April 23rd, 2010 6:49 am

    Iam again here to say the good news: i did “Sisstem restore” and I am back to previos situation.


  26. jonls on April 23rd, 2010 3:55 pm

    @Reuf: I noticed that too after I posted here. You can get it back with diskpart. After selecting the correct disk and volume, type ‘assign letter=X’ where X is the drive letter you want the volume to use.


  27. Reuf Hidic on April 23rd, 2010 6:33 pm

    Thenk You Jonis!

  28. Piete on July 15th, 2010 9:26 am

    I looked at the open processes with Task Manager, acroread was running although I didn’t have any open pdf docs, killed the process and my Vista let me unplug my USB disk. So maybe Apple is on the right track after all… 😉

  29. huattk on July 27th, 2010 1:16 pm

    Here’s another strange behaviour I’m noticing on Windows 7. With my external 1TB USB plugged in, choosing to go into Computer Management would crash Explorer and restart it.

    Why would I go there? Here’s why. I found out that assuming you can change a drive letter, that drive will not be recognised by your Windows 7, and thus will be finally safe for unplugging. And it always work.

    Anyway the problem I have above is one of the reasons why Windows blows.

  30. Moeed on September 22nd, 2010 2:06 pm

    Just remove the antivirus from the startup and use the option to safely remove the drive.

    The antivirus causes this problem.

    Hope this solves everyones problem

  31. Moeed on September 22nd, 2010 2:07 pm

    Sorry didnt mention a thing.

    Remove antivirus from the the start up, restart your computer and then use the option to safely remove the drive.
    It works.

  32. jh on October 7th, 2010 11:35 am

    Just UNPLUG it!
    The default removal property of an external usb drive is “Quick removal”. Write caching is NOT enabled, so unless the cache is ACTIVELY being written to, you DON’T need to use Safely Remove. There is no need to reboot!

  33. Nuala on October 8th, 2010 11:03 pm

    Darren, Thanks for the tip….it worked a treat!!

  34. Emma B on October 18th, 2010 11:17 pm

    I did what “jonls” suggested and it worked.
    Thank you.


    “remove all dismount” DID NOT WORK
    “remova all” DID WORK

    for me at least..

  35. florrie on October 24th, 2010 9:17 pm

    the same thing happend to me. what i did was leave my computer on for a few hours,with the usb still plugged in, what it means is the generic thing is transferring data, when i checked later on i was able to safely remove it

  36. florrie on October 29th, 2010 11:41 am

    can anyone help me, im a newbi on the computer, my desktop background is black, when i go into checking
    programs and features, change desktop background,
    it says this feature has been disabled please contact your system administrator for details.
    i have no idea where to start

  37. kapil saini on November 3rd, 2010 5:51 pm

    i took a game from my friends computer on my pen drive and then i installed that game on my computer and now when i format the drive it shows that some proces is using your drive .and that game is also not being uninstalled from my computer

  38. kapil saini on November 3rd, 2010 5:52 pm

    please help me i am fed up with the problem

  39. Satya on December 30th, 2010 10:22 pm

    In my case it was GoogleDesktop which was not allowing me to remove my Seagate GoFlex Portable 500 GB hard disk. I ahve downloaded process Explorer from microsoft approved thirdparty website,then used the istruction from :

    1.Download and install Process Explorer. It is absolutely free to use.
    2.Open Process Explorer and then press ‘Ctrl+F’ and key in the drive name from which your USB device is unable to eject. In my case it is drive ‘h:\’.
    3.As you can see explorer.exe accessing my device even though I’ve closed all open applications that was accessing my drive. This is a hidden instance of explorer that’s accessing my device.
    4.Right click on that thread and click ‘Close Handle’ to close the explorer.exe thread or click on properties to know more about the thread.
    5.Now that the hidden instance of explorer is closed, try ejecting your USB drive. You won’t have any problems ejecting your pendrive now.
    6.You have now safely ejected your USB device! Follow the same steps if any USB device in the future annoys you by not ejecting out properly.

    in my case it was g:\ then i got to know Googledeskop was behind all this mess. i hav killed the tree and its done !!!

  40. Frustrated user. on January 28th, 2011 7:01 pm

    All I can say is that this for me personally is an extremely and frustrating bug.
    Jonls’ solution worked very well for a while but even that has now stopped working for me in the last week or so, (may be a windows update?). I have just gone back to what I did in the old days, make sure everything is closed and once I’m certain there is no disk activity, I just physically unplug my WD passport. I’ve never ever ever had a problem. (and if it happens to bug up, the data is backed up) In my mind, the Safely remove feature is a buggy P.O.S which has only gotten much worse in windows 7.

  41. MikeM on March 17th, 2011 12:24 am

    Reading over the forum here, it is obvious that Windows does not have a handle on USB devices. My problem is the same as above and I am on Windows 7 Pro 64 bit with SP1. All of my devices are set for quick removal, and I know this means I can simply unplug the device, but even so, when I try safe removal, it does not work. In my case, I believe it is explorer that is not releasing control, but using task manager to stop and start explorer.exe was not sucessful either. I have taken to simply turning the device off or unplugging without using the safe removal “feature”. To date, no corruption and no data loss.

  42. Sigh. on March 18th, 2011 11:13 pm

    Sometimes, I think it may just be the hard drive itself that is causing the problem. One of my hard drive always display that error message too even if all other programs are closed but I tried it with other hard drives and they all work fine except this particular one. I also use Windows 7 64 bit.

  43. abotil on April 11th, 2011 11:03 am

    By changing the drive letter we can easily remove the drive

  44. machiels on April 25th, 2011 7:28 pm

    before putting your usb you must refresh a lot of times in your pc.. them before ejecting refresh again. try.. it worked for me

  45. eajjt on June 11th, 2011 12:05 am

    Go to Windows (File) explorer, right click on the drive and then click on the Eject.

    This worked for me on Windows 7

  46. Ciantic on October 11th, 2011 10:17 pm

    “I was hoping this would be cured in Vista. Nope! I bet Windows 7 will still do it.”

    Nope, still sucks. Does not show what freaking program is using it.

    “Go to Windows (File) explorer, right click on the drive and then click on the Eject.”

    Guess what, I don’t have Eject in the context menu of the drive this time. A bit flaky I say, it sometimes appears there and sometimes doesn’t.

    Anyway this usually helps: kill explorer.exe, it is the culprit often even though none of the explorer windows are open. Then restart it from Task Manager -> Run.

  47. Globis on November 13th, 2011 2:27 pm

    Satya’s answer worked perfectly for me!!!
    Whew, now I can finally get some well deserved sleep!

  48. Shijee on January 10th, 2012 10:57 am

    Thanks Rob. perfectly worked for me.

  49. jackson on March 27th, 2012 10:34 am

    would formatting the external hard drive cure this situation?

  50. johnpfjefferies on September 6th, 2012 2:01 am

    Hezron’s solution of setting the USB HDD to offline works perfectly. Very easy.

    I’m on Windows 7, I had 2 handles open by svchost.exe which were both for the system volume and it wouldn’t be good to just pull the plug on it. Setting the HDD option to quick removal isn’t an option for me because performance goes down by a factor of x10 or more on my USB3 disk.

  51. johnpfjefferies on September 12th, 2012 5:10 pm

    Perhaps I should add that after setting the disk offline, it’s a good idea to turn it back online because Windows remembers this setting when the disk is reconnected.

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