Safely Remove Hardware Icon Missing in Windows 7 [Fix]

We’ve previously written about a trick on how to hide or remove safely remove hardware try icon. Although the tip has it’s uses, it’s is probably not useful for most of us because the majority of users own a USB flash or portable hard drive nowadays and we need the Safely Remove Hardware icon to eject or unplug our USB device so that the files in our USB flash drive won’t get corrupted.

Restore Safely Remove Hardware

Although Windows by default chooses “Optimize for quick removal” in the Write Caching policies tab in the device properties window, there are times you might have noticed when you try to stop the plugged in USB flash drive or device at Safely Remove Hardware, it says “The device cannot be stopped right now. Try stopping the device again later.” If you forcefully attempt to unplug the USB flash drive during that time, there is a big risk any previously opened files will become corrupted and then you will have to depend on data recovery software to get back the files. So, never fully trust the “Optimize for quick removal” setting!

There are times that the Safely Remove Hardware Icon is missing or disappeared from the system tray. In Windows Safe Mode, you can’t find the Safely Remove Hardware icon at all. Is shutting down or restarting the computer the only way to safely stop and unplug your USB devices? Fortunately not. Here are some ways you can bring back the Safely Remove Hardware window when the icon is missing.

Solution 1

Firstly, and the most obvious solution of all is make sure that the Safely Remove Hardware icon is not set as “Always Hide“. In Windows 7 make sure “Windows Explorer – Safely remove hardware and eject media” is not set to “Hide icon and notifications” by selecting Customize on the tray and checking the icon status in the list. In Windows XP it’s pretty much the same apart from you right click on a space in the tray -> Customize Notifications, and make sure safely remove is not set to to “Always Hide”. You’d be surprised how often this simple thing can be the cause.

Hide icon and notifications

Solution 2

The manual way of bringing back the Safely Remove Hardware window is by running a command. Go to Start -> Run or press Win key+R, type in or copy and paste the following line and click OK. The command below IS case sensitive.

rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

That will bring up the “Safely Remove Hardware” dialog which you can use to stop the USB device that you want to unplug. When you close the window, this often has the side effect of also restoring the icon back to the tray.

Bring back safely remove hardware dialog

If somehow your Windows installation is not in the best shape and the Safely Remove Hardware icon is never displayed in your tray, you can create a shortcut or even a batch file using the command line above. Just run the shortcut or batch file and the Safely Remove Hardware dialog window will appear. To create a shortcut:

1. Right click on the desktop and click on New -> Shortcut.

2. In the “Type the location of the item” box, type in, or copy and paste the rundll line of text from above.

3. Click Next and then give it a name like “Safely Remove my Hardware”, and finally click on Finish.

Or to make things even simpler, just Download a ready made desktop shortcut with the default Windows hotplug.dll icon which does the same as above. Alternatively if you don’t want to have an icon on the desktop, you can place the Safely Remove Hardware entry into the right click context menu for the desktop. Download the registry files, and click on one to add the entry and the other to remove it.

Safely Remove Hardware Context Menu

The 3rd and 4th solution can be found on page 2.

Solution 3

Here’s another possible way on how you can to restore Safely Remove Hardware icon back to tray bar. Some people have had success with it restoring their icon, so it might work for you…

1. Open My Computer.

2. Right click on the USB flash drive and click Properties.

3. Click on the Hardware tab and select the removable drive from the list

4. Click the Properties button

5. Click on the Policies tab

6. Change the option from “Optimize for quick removal” to “Optimize for performance” and press OK. You can change it back to Optimize for quick removal once you know whether the Safely Remove Hardware icon has been restored or not.

Write Caching and Safe Removal

Solution 4

If you’re having trouble and using the command above didn’t work, or don’t want to create a shortcut or batch file, here’s a simple and straight forward free tool which you can use to quickly and safely remove USB devices in Windows. USB Disk Ejector is able to eject any USB device.

In our opinion, USB Disk Ejector is miles better than Windows itself at handling removable devices, so we highly recommended that you at least have a look at it as a complete replacement for the Windows Safely Remove feature. You can find more information about it in our USB Disk Ejector article. There’s nothing to loose really as the program is completely portable so you don’t even have to install it to try it out.

USB Disk Ejector

To stop and safely remove a USB device using USB Disk Ejector, just double click or press enter for the device displayed in the user interface. We love USB Disk Ejector because it’s free, small, portable and easy to use as well as being able to handle hardware such as card readers far better than Windows can. There’s also the ability to eject specific drives using keyboard shortcuts.

Download USB Disk Ejector

Final Note: If you find that none of the above solutions works, you may want to perform a Windows repair install to fix the problem. Another manual way of safely ejecting the removable storage disk such as USB flash drive to prevent any data corruption is to open Windows Explorer by pressing Win+R, right click on the drive letter and select Eject from the context menu. This will ensure that the drive can be safely unplugged from the USB port.

Manually eject removable disk from explorer

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