How I can safely remove a USB external drive?

Ubuntu 12.10 does not come with this option, only to "Unmount" the disk, but not "Eject".

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I have tried both USB sticks and with my external hard drive.


10 Answers 10


To safely remove i.e. disconnect an external USB drive you need to manually unmount all of its partitions (represented by 'drive icons'):

either in Unity Launcher

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or in Nautilus

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In the example above: to remove my Hitachi external USB drive I have to unmount all of the partitions on the said drive. To make things easier when formatting my drive I named (labelled) all of its partitions so that the names (labels) begin with 'HIT'.

For further reading please refer to the bug report (the lack of either "Safely remove" or "Eject" is a bug in Ubuntu 12.10):


Don't forget to mark 'This bug affects me' in the upper portion of the page.


There seems to be a bug report about the missing option.

@k-k-patel Even if "eject" and "safely remove" are virtually the same for external hard drives, none of the two are available. Only "unmount" is offered.

@hari @isoma No "unmount" and "eject/safely remove" are not the same and even for an external hard drive "eject/safely remove" is not subsumed by "unmount". For instance, consider a drive with two partitions. If the "user" unmounts one of them, the other one will remain mounted, and, as a result, if the user unplugs the drive, they face a data loss on the second partition. On the other hand, if the user "ejects/safely removes" the first partition, both will get unmounted.


Gnome Disks Utility has an option to Power off a disk.

You can first unmount the partitions as suggested in other answers or using the Gnome Disks Utility as I explained below.

  1. access gnome-disk-utility searching for 'Disks' on Gnome Applications Menu or typing gnome-disks on a terminal.
  2. Select the disk in the left list
  3. Unmount the partitions clicking on each of them and clicking on the Stop button for each of them.
  4. click on the Power Off button located on the window top bar. Gnome Disks Utility screen

My toy project can help on this problem:


This is a appindicator for ubuntu that uses udisks for detach device


I found a way to do this in Nautilus, in Ubuntu 12.04, using Gnome desktop (not Unity). There was no "unmount" in the right-click menu. But, there was an icon to the right of the name of the USB hard drive. I clicked it and it did the unmount, and after that 1) "Mount" was in the menu and 2) "Safely remove" worked fine.

  1. If external drive was connected when I turned on my PC - I have "Unmount".
  2. If external drive was connected after I turned on my PC - I have "Safely remove drive".

For the first case I used "Unmount" in Nautilus and "Power Off" in Disks application.


'Eject' works same as safely remove

  • 8
    @k-k-patel No, in external hard drive don't shows that option: link Only 'open' and 'unmount'.
    – gabeweb
    Oct 21, 2012 at 6:51

Unmount and eject are the same. If you need to check it, Open Terminal after eject/Unmount the drive and type this command : mount You wont be able to see the device if it's unmounted


“Eject” is for drives with removable media, like a DVD drive. An external hard drive does not have any eject mechanism.

“Unmount” is the correct operation to use before you unplug the drive.


You can always unmount in a save way using the console, that said the "safe remove of a device" is under the hood nothing else but un-mounting all mounted partitions of a device.

sudo -s -- 'sync; umount <mounted-folder>'

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