Update I have been using an app called…

Update: I have been using an app called EjectUSB that seems to do the trick. Download it, copy it to each USB drive that you own and run it whenever you are not able to eject the USB drive through Windows — EjectUSB will close the ‘offending’ application that’s accessing your USB drive, preventing you from removing it safely.

If EjectUSB fails, then follow along!

Do you get the 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 then try again later.” whenever you try to safely remove your USB Mass Storage device (thumb drive, USB hard disk) on your Windows Vista computer?

I have an easy fix for you that does not involve logging off or rebooting your computer. It’s not actually a fix, but it’s close to one!

For pros:

Kill all instances of Explorer.exe using the Task Manager and then run the Explorer.exe process through Task Manager: File->New Task (Run…). Now try safely removing your USB device and it should work.

For n00bs:

If you get that message after repeatedly trying to safely remove the USB device, open up Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc), go to the ‘Process’ tab and in the list of currently running process, select ‘Explorer.exe’ and click on the ‘End Process’ button. There might be multiple instances of Explorer.exe running. Kill (End Process) all instances.

After you kill Explorer.exe, you will notice that the Taskbar is no longer on display. Fear not! In Task Manager, click on ‘File->New Task (Run…)’, type ‘Explorer.exe’ and press ‘OK’. Once you do this, you will get your Taskbar and Desktop back.

The final step is to safely remove the USB device. Follow normal procedures and you should be able to successfully remove the USB device now.

You will have to repeat this procedure every time you get that message though. But it’s still far easier than having to reboot the computer every time!

Update: Use this only when you have closed all other applications and can’t determine what’s preventing the safe removal of the device.