Subscriber David Wiesner wrote to ask about a USB flash drive problem he has occasionally:
I often find that the tray icon in XP for my USB devices disappears in the middle of a session. I cannot figure out how to safely eject a USB device when this happens.
I tried turning off the feature of the computer getting rid of unused icons but that did not seem to help.
Even so, if I cannot figure out an alternative to clicking on this icon, taking it away because it has not been accessed is problematic. So this is two questions…
The first is how to keep that icon from disappearing and the second is how to safely eject without using the icon.
As to David’s first question — how to keep the icon (presumably the Safely Eject Hardware icon) from disappearing, I don’t know. I don’t recall having this problem when I used Windows XP.
However, perhaps the reason I don’t remember it is that I know how to "Safely Remove Hardware" when the corresponding icon is not available in the Windows Status bar (now called the Notifications Area).
The first step is to find the drive in Windows. Open My Computer or open Windows Explorer (in Windows XP, right-click on the Start button and click Explore; in Windows 7, right-click on the Windows Orb and select Open Windows Explorer).
Find the USB drive in My Computer or Windows Explorer. Then, right-click on the icon for the USB drive. One of the options is Eject, which is what you want to do.
By the way, if you have any program or window open that is using, or otherwise has open,a file or folder on that drive, you will not be able to eject it (or use the Safely Remove Hardware icon, even if it was visible).