How to Eject External Drives in Windows 11

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This post shows students and new users steps to safely eject external storage devices from Windows 11 so not to corrupt the data on the disk. Simply unplugging an external storage device from Windows may seem trivial, but Microsoft recommends to follow certain steps to ensure that data is not lost from the device.

Like any modern operating system, Windows 11 allows you to use external devices like USB flash drive, CD/DVD disc and other removable devices. However, if you don’t follow the best practice of safely removing or ejecting devices before unplugging, you may corrupt or destroy data on the device that you may never recover.

Also, if you simply unplug a device and not doing it safely, you run the risk of unplugging it while an application is still using it, which may also cause the application to end abruptly and may introduction performance issues.

There’s always a process to get things done in Windows. There’s a proper and improper way to get things done in Windows. Just like there’s a proper way to shutdown or reboot your computer, there’s also a proper way to eject an external USB device from your Windows computer.

To learn how to properly eject or remove a USB drive from your Windows computer, follow the steps below:

Again, if you don’t do it properly, you may lose your important data on the disk. Even if you use an optical disc like a CD or DVD, you can use the same steps to eject the disc from your computer.

How to safely remove external drives in Windows 11

To eject removable devices from Windows, locate the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media icon on the taskbar or corner overflow as highlighted below.

windows 11 safely remove hardware and eject media

When you click on the icon, it should list all the removeable devices that are attached to your Windows computer.

Then click the Eject device name. The device name should appear with Eject.

windows 11 eject device in windows 11

When you click Eject on the device name, Windows will display a message that the device is Safe To Remove Hardware.

windows is safe to remove hardware

You can then unplug the device from your computer safely without losing or corrupting the data on it.

You can also eject removable devices from File Explorer. Locate the device in File Explorer, then right-click it and select Eject as highlighted below.

When will then display the a message that the device can safely be removed from your computer.

windows 11 eject disk from file

If any of the files on the device are open and in use by an application, you will not be able to safely remove the device. You will be prompted with a window telling you that the disk or volume is busy.

You will have to close all the files on the device or stop the application accessing the drive and click the eject icon to safely remove or eject the device. Alternately, you can right-click the name of the device in File Explorer and eject from there as well.

That should do it!

Conclusion:

This post showed you steps to take to properly eject or remove external storage devices from Windows 11. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.

4 Comments

  1. Richard Dickie Hermon

    On my new Windows 11 There is NO Icon to remove external Hardware safely .What do I do?

    1. I agree! Trying to find solution. Even though turned on in my Personalization/Taskbar settings, it does not appear. Haven’t figured it out yet…

  2. I have just upgraded to Windows 11. There is NO icon I can find to safely remove external drives.
    How can I fix this?

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