Fix Vista’s Safely Remove Hardware Mechanism

The Safely Remove Hardware mechanism is by no means something new to Windows Vista. In fact the feature has only survived into Vista with little to no enhancements. Essentially, Safely Remove Hardware is an integer part of the Vista model for managing Plug and Play devices, designed to notify the operating system that a certain item will be removed. The feature will make sure that there is no more interaction between Windows Vista and the Plug and Play hardware attached in order to streamline the removal of specific devices without having to shut down the operating system and without leading to loss of data.

“Some Plug and Play devices can be installed or removed while the system is running. For example, USB, IEEE 1394, and PC Card devices can be added to and removed from a fully powered system. When such hardware is added or removed, the operating system automatically detects insertion or removal of the device and manages system and/or hardware configuration as required. If the device is not designed to be removed while the system is running, it is recommended that you notify the operating system in advance to avoid problems.” Microsoft informed.

Well, according to the Redmond company, the Safely Remove Hardware is not foolproof. Far from it in fact. Microsoft is currently delivering two hotfixes for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Vista set up to correct erroneous behavior when removing devices. Specifically the scenarios addressed by the Redmond company involve clicking the Safely Remove Hardware and selecting a device for removal only to have the operation fail. Not only will Vista not remove the specified device, but it will also present no confirmation message.

“This problem occurs because of a timing issue in which allocated memory may be released while the system is removing the selected device. When this behavior occurs, the system can no longer find the information about the selected device. Therefore, the device is not removed,” Microsoft revealed. “A supported hotfix is now available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing this specific problem.”

Users experiencing this issue can submit a hotfix request at the Microsoft Online Customer Services website. The company also offered two workarounds for the issue: “Either double-click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the notification area, click the device, and then click Stop. Or right-click the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the notification area, click Safely Remove Hardware, click the device, and then click Stop.”

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