How to Remove an External Hard Drive

Written by nathan mcginty
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How to Remove an External Hard Drive
Correctly remove your external hard drive if needed. (external drive image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com)

External hard drives are a godsend for those of us with nearly full hard drives. External drives plug into a computer by means of a USB or FireWire cable and can double, triple or even quadruple the storage on a system drive. However, caution must be used when removing an external hard drive. If these drives are not removed properly, you run the risk of damaging the drive's partition table and losing all of your important files.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Close any programs that are accessing resources on the external hard drive.

  2. 2

    Right-click on the "Remove External Device" in the taskbar on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. The icon looks like a USB plug. If you don't see the icon, click on the arrow to expand the taskbar. Select "Eject Device."

  3. 3

    In the selection screen that pops up, select the external hard drive that you want to remove. Press "Stop."

  4. 4

    Windows will disconnect the device. Click "OK" on the pop-up screen when Windows tells you the device has been disconnected.

  5. 5

    Power down the external hard drive.

  6. 6

    Remove the external hard drive cable from your computer.

  1. 1

    Close any applications that are accessing the external hard drive.

  2. 2

    Locate the external hard drive on the desktop. If you haven't given your hard drive a name, it will be labelled as the default for Macs, which is "No Name."

  3. 3

    Drag the external hard drive icon to the trash.

  4. 4

    Allow the Mac OS to disconnect the drive. It will pop up a screen when it tells you that the drive can be safely removed. Click "OK."

  5. 5

    Turn off power to the external hard drive.

  6. 6

    Disconnect the external drive cable from the Mac. The drive can now be removed.

Tips and warnings

  • Some versions of Windows use a "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the taskbar. The following steps are basically the same as the ones given.
  • The procedures work for both USB and FireWire drives.

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