Can’t eject external USB or Firewire drive in Windows 7

As a SharePoint developer, I work a lot with Virtual Machines (presently using Windows Virtual PC, with Windows 7).  I’m using these VMs with my laptop, and in order to get better performance, I’ve moved them to external hard drives.  (These drives have faster RPMs, larger caches, and a larger capacity, than the internal drive.)  I have one large external drive at home, another similar drive at the office, and a small, slow portable drive that I carry with me.

Office Space file copy screen capture

So, at the end of each day at the office, I copy the files from the external drive to my portable drive and then once I get home, I copy them from the portable to the larger external drive I leave at home.  I do this for a couple of reasons: so I can work at home and secondly, so I have backup copies.  (Often, I feel like I’m in the movie “Office Space” when copying the files before I leave the office).

Anyway, after the files are copied, I safely eject the external drives, and then hibernate my laptop.  I’ve been doing this for over a year now, but within the last couple of months I started to have issues disconnecting the drives.  Intermittently, some application/process would have a lock on some file on the drive that would keep Windows from safely ejecting it.

After looking into it, I found that it was actually the Windows search service that was accessing the drive! Since I wasn’t using Windows search to look for stuff on these drives, I removed them as locations to index.

To do this in Windows 7, you need to go to Indexing Options (just type “Indexing” into the search box in the Start menu…).  One of the choices displayed will then be Indexing Options, so click on it and you should then see a window similar to this:Indexing Options Windows 7


Click on the Modify button and you’ll see this window:

Indexing Locations Windows 7Notice the different drives listed above.  My “FreeAgent XTreme (F:)” drive was checked for some reason, which was causing the indexing service to scan the drive looking for new files to make available in the search results.  Ever since I unchecked this box, I’ve been able to safely eject the drive.

Print | posted @ Monday, March 8, 2010 3:07 AM