Comprehensive Guide: Resolving Windows 10 Can't Eject External Hard Drive Issue

This exhaustive article provides a deep dive into various methods to troubleshoot the 'Windows 10 can't eject external hard drive' issue. It intricately outlines step-by-step procedures for each solution.


By Lori / Updated on January 25, 2024

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Encountering the perplexing 'Windows 10 can't eject external hard drive' error can be a source of immense frustration. Fear not, as we embark on an intricate journey through a myriad of solutions, ensuring not just resolution, but a comprehensive understanding of the issue.


Understanding the Issue

Before diving into the solutions, let's unravel the complexities of why this issue arises. Windows 10, in its bid to safeguard your data, impedes the ejection of a device if it perceives it to be in use. This protective measure, while well-intentioned, can sometimes lead to false positives, preventing users from safely unplugging their external hard drives.

Identifying the Culprit

To effectively troubleshoot, pinpointing the application or process responsible for the stubborn hold on your hard drive is crucial. Task Manager becomes our ally in this endeavor.

Using Task Manager

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Navigate to the 'Processes' tab.
  3. Look for applications or processes actively using your external hard drive.
  4. Right-click on the culprit and select 'End Task'.

Safe Ejection Methods

Now, let's explore detailed steps for various methods to safely eject your external hard drive.

Method 1: Using Windows Explorer

Standard Ejection Procedure

  1. Open 'This PC' or 'My Computer'.
  2. Locate your external hard drive.
  3. Right-click and select 'Eject'.
  4. Confirm the action and wait for the notification stating it's safe to remove the hardware.

Refreshing Windows Explorer

  1. While in the 'This PC' window, press F5 to refresh.
  2. Attempt the standard ejection procedure again.

Method 2: Using Disk Management

Disk Management offers a more intricate approach for users comfortable with technical solutions.

Ejecting through Disk Management

  1. Right-click on the Start menu and choose 'Disk Management'.
  2. Find your external hard drive in the list.
  3. Right-click on it and select 'Eject'.
  4. Confirm the action when prompted.

Method 3: Using Device Manager

Device Manager introduces an alternative for those seeking a different avenue.

Ejecting through Device Manager

  1. Press Windows + X and select 'Device Manager'.
  2. Expand the 'Disk Drives' section.
  3. Right-click on your external hard drive and choose 'Uninstall device'.
  4. Safely remove the hardware after the device is uninstalled.

Advanced Troubleshooting

For persistent issues, let's delve into advanced troubleshooting using the Command Prompt.

Using Command Prompt

Command Prompt provides a powerful tool to forcibly close processes hindering the ejection of your external hard drive.

Force Ejecting via Command Prompt

  1. Open Command Prompt as an administrator.
  2. Type diskpart and press Enter.
  3. Type list disk to identify your external hard drive.
  4. Type select disk [number] (replace [number] with your drive number).
  5. Execute offline disk to safely eject the drive.

When Things Get Hairy: MyRecover

In scenarios where data loss or corruption is a concern, MyRecover steps in as a robust solution.

Understanding MyRecover

MyRecover is a comprehensive data recovery tool designed to efficiently retrieve lost files from external hard drives.

Recovering Data with MyRecover

Download and install MyRecover.

Connect your external hard drive.

Launch MyRecover and select the connected drive.

Initiate the scanning process to identify recoverable files.

Preview the scanned files and select those you wish to recover.

Choose a secure destination on your PC to save the recovered files.

Preventive Measures

To ensure a proactive approach and prevent future occurrences, adopt these best practices.

Routine Maintenance

Regular maintenance checks play a pivotal role in ensuring the health of your external hard drives.

Staying Updated

Regularly update your Windows OS and drivers.

Perform periodic disk checks to identify and rectify potential issues.


In concluding our journey through the intricacies of the 'Windows 10 can't eject external hard drive' issue, remember that while these solutions may seem complex, they are designed to provide a holistic understanding and resolution. Handle your devices with care, keep regular backups, and empower yourself with the knowledge to navigate these challenges successfully.


What should I do if none of the methods work?

If the issue persists, consider restarting your computer or connecting the hard drive to a different USB port.

Can repeated unsuccessful ejections damage my external hard drive?

Yes, frequent failure to safely eject can lead to data corruption or damage to the drive.

How can I identify if a process is using my hard drive in Task Manager?

Check the 'Disk' column in Task Manager for processes with high disk usage, indicating active engagement with your hard drive.

Is it safe to use the Command Prompt method?

Yes, but exercise caution and ensure you select the correct disk to prevent inadvertently affecting other drives.

Are there third-party utilities to assist with safe ejection?

Yes, various utilities are available that specialize in safely ejecting USB devices by closing open handles and processes.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.