And so I scream whenever I, trying to be the Good Citizen of safe computing, encounter the "xxxx volume cannot be stopped right now" error whilst stopping the device that is my external USB drive. And that happens like 95% of the time.
Actually, I am a pretty quiet and calm person and thus never yell and scream. I just walk downstairs and bash my neighbours' trash bins over.
But what the heck, I always think, and simply pull the USB cords (or USB PCMCIA card) out of my laptop. Surely it can't be that
bad for the disk's health when I am not writing anything to it.
Well well well, in a discussion in an AspAdvice.com list about the reliability of drives operating behind the USB interface, Michael K Campbell
was sharing how he typically uses SysInternals' Process Explorer
to find processes that have open handles on resources residing on drives of interest (those in external disks). No harm trying that out.
The neat thing about these free tools is they run immediately without any installation - just launch the unzipped executables and they go about their work poking and peeking around the internals of the system. Despite the dauntingly long list of processes Process Explorer was displaying, it was a straightforward procedure thanks to its Search function, allowing me to find which processes have "P:" (my external drive) in their resource handle paths.
What came back made sense - WindowsSearch.exe
I never launched any program to directly make use of the external volume, so it had to be some background process that has some "business" to do there, and virus scanning should be out of the picture since I wasn't accessing any files. My MSN Search however was configured to index email and All drives
. Setting it to index only my permanent drives made the external disk "availabe" for removal.
Kudos to SysInternals
for writing tools that make it a snap to diagnose and solve problems.