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I have noticed that Windows 7 is not giving me the option to right-click and "eject" my new USB external hard drives.

I still can safely remove them by clicking on the corresponding icon on the icon tray.

I was wondering if:

  1. The option is missing because of an error or some undesired system change, and there is a way to get it back.
  2. If the option to eject drives depends on the type of drive, and there is a reason why some USB drives can be ejected while others can't.

Note for clarification: The drives are hard drives; i.e. magnetic storage drives with moving parts, not SSDs.

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Is it flash external storage? Check if ReadyBoost is enabled on this drive... –  rjobidon Oct 25 '11 at 23:37
    
I also would like to know how to use right click the drive to eject .. I can't see the option at all, don't know why that is. Using the clumsy tray icon is fine but annoying and counter-intuitive. Anyone know how to install something or change some setting to let me eject by right clicking the usb drive? –  Mikey Nov 18 at 8:27

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are two meanings to "eject", unfortunately:

  1. Physically remove the medium from the device. E.g. Eject the CD, floppy disk, etc.

  2. Write all cached data to the disk, flush all buffers, do all the housekeeping on the filesystem and make the disk inaccessible so no further writing is possible.

Meaning #1 is enabled in "My Computer" only for the disks/devices that are declared "removable" by their driver. Meaning #2 is enabled in the system tray icon for all devices that are on a hot-plug bus (e.g. USB).

Thus the difference. Your new disk declares itself "non-removable", but it is USB-connected.

You still need to eject flash media! It is true that if flash disk is NTFS-formatted, it is somewhat resilient to sudden disconnects, but most flash disks are FAT-formatted, and if you yank it before Windows had the chance to flush all cached data to the disk, you'll get a nasty surprise sooner than later: corrupted files.

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How does the comment about needing to eject flash media interact with the Windows option for "optimize for fast disconnect" or whatever that's called? My impression was that that caused Windows not to cache data for the given device, so it was okay to just unplug it. –  Brooks Moses Mar 26 '12 at 15:17
    
Indeed, Windows won't cache writes if this option is enabled, but you can still yank the device mid-write and corrupt your data, just the "window of corruption" is much narrower, e.g. Windows will flush data to media as soon as possible, but "as soon as possible" does not mean immediately. Copy large file, remove the USB stick mid-write, file will be half-written, and if you have non-journalling filesystem (FAT) and unlucky, you'll get filesystem corruption too. –  haimg Mar 26 '12 at 18:13

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