TechBite: Eliminating The Windows “Corrupt Files” Message


By Steve Bass

Avoid the Dreaded “Windows – Corrupt File” Message

I did the unbelievable — a beginner’s mistake, if I ever heard one. I unplugged of a USB-attached device without using the Safely Remove Hardware applet. And up from the depths of the system tray came the here-comes-lunch “Windows – Corrupt File” message.

I was worried, and rightly so, because it was a client’s hard drive that now had a corrupt file. (He doesn’t read TechBite, so the secret’s safe.)

Disconnect Me
The Safely Remove Hardware applet lets Windows know you’re removing a flash drive, your camera’s memory card, or an external hard drive from your PC USB port. That way Windows flushes the device’s disk buffers.

Safely Remove Hardware

Use Safely Remove Hardware often and early.

Using Safely Remove Hardware also makes sure you’re not doing something idiotic, like copying a file to the device while removing the device. (Sure, I’ve done it.)

To confuse things, some devices, like a teenager’s whatever, couldn’t give a rat’s patootie if you don’t use Safely Remove Hardware. For instance, an ancient MP3 player Judy uses seems to have a special relationship with Windows. I figure if the device doesn’t care, neither should I, and I don’t bother with Safely Remove Hardware.

Occasionally, a device will kvetch when you use Safely Remove Hardware and obliquely say that it can’t be stopped right now. It’s because something — a program or service — is putting a hold on the device. It happens to me when I haven’t closed Windows Explorer after copying files to the device. Worst case, the device will be released when you shut down Windows.

And I know some of you are persistent and will find the two settings Windows uses for devices attached through a USB connection. One’s for quick removal and the other’s for better performance. 

Windows makes the decision for you. I suggest you shouldn’t fiddle with the settings. I often question authority, but this is not the time for it.

Make It Easier to Use

I thought about why I didn’t use the Safely Remove Hardware tool. I think it’s because I’ve let the system tray (actually, the notification area) get cluttered. It’ll take a few minutes to create, but you might be better off with a Safely Remove Hardware icon on the desktop.

Notifications Area
Rummage around, the
icon’s there — somewhere.

Steve’s article continued here

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5 thoughts on “TechBite: Eliminating The Windows “Corrupt Files” Message”

  1. To Bob (Shier): The icon only appears in the system tray if you plug in a USB device. If there’s nothing to safely remove, the icon won’t appear.

  2. Good advice, but I have two Vista PCs (a Packard Bell and an Acer) with built-in card memory card readers, but Vista sees them as USB devices. As a result, if I use the ‘Safely Disconnect Hardware’ applet, it certainly tells me when it’s safe to unplug the SD card, but then I cannot use the reader again without a restart, as the OS is waiting for me to disconnect the USB device… Since I figured this out, I just wait twenty seconds or so, then remove the card anyway; doing this I’ve never had a data loss or corrupt file message – but it’s still a glitch on Vista that really should have been addressed a long time ago. Whether it exists on my new W7 laptop I haven’t had cause to try to find out – yet!!

    Oh – and to Bob Shier’s question; have you checked the Properties of the Toolbar? The ‘Custom’ button allows you to choose which icons are included; the one you’re missing may have become corrupted.

  3. I have the same problem with the “Safely Remove Hardware” and the “Sound” Icons, however if I “Log Off” and then “Log On”, the Icons reappear until I “Shut Down” or “Restart” my PC and have to “Log Off and Log On” again. This is a temporary fix I discovered by accident. This is a reoccurring problem I have been having and sometimes clears up or starts again whenever I install a new program, or update an existing program or uninstall one. My Icons were fine for a while and disappeared right after I installed the latest IE update or program. Go figure.

  4. The “Safely Remove Hardware” icon has disappeared from the System Tray of my wife’s PC. I’ve searched for it and can’t find it anywhere. Anyone have any suggestions?

  5. Bob Collins, Ormond Beach, FL

    Steve, In PC Pitstop Nov newsletter, a column above your talks about Registry Cleaners… but don’t I remember you recommending CCleaner at some time in the past? What is the real answer here? Thanks.. Bob (paid member)

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