Safely Remove Hardware based on Name instead of generic name?

Posted on 2009-05-13
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
Is there a way to show the name of the USB device when you left-click the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the system tray, instead of just a generic name like "safely remove mass storage device"?

It's very confusing when you have 3 USB drives plugged in and they have the same name.

What's interesting is that on my other Windows XP Sp3 computer, it does show the names, whereas on my other Windows XP Sp3 computer, it just shows "safely remove mass storage device". Very odd to me.
Question by:garryshape
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Accepted Solution

Kechka earned 250 total points
ID: 24381864
When the USB key is connected, go to my computer and right click on the drive and choose 'rename' and name it as you wish. Renaming the volume will work for explorer, but not for Safely Remove Hardware. If you go to My Computer, right click the device you wish and Eject which in turn will show as removable disk and remove.

If you want, you can find comm program for that
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Expert Comment

ID: 24383793
In the "safely remove" window, there is a checkbox in the lower ledt corner labeled "Display Device Components". Make sure that box is checked. It will show the name of the device, along with the drive letter and volume.
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Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 250 total points
ID: 24384286
It does seem odd that one XP system shows the descriptive names and the other shows the generic names, although it could just be that you haven't noticed what flubbster has pointed out above.  Double check that, and I suspect that is what you will find as being the apparent difference.

Yeah, it's confusing.  I have one Flash Drive that shows in Safely Remove (showing all components) as "USB 2.0 Flash Disk USB Device" and another that shows as "USB Flash Disk 2.0 USB Device" ie. the placement of the 2.0 is the only indication of which one I am about to disconnect.

The names that show in Safely Remove are the ones retrieved from the device's digital "signature" when Windows detects the device.  Although they are stored in the registry for each device as "FriendlyName", I wouldn't recommend even trying to tamper with the names in any way.  At best, the device would be re-detected on connection by the original name and would leave a phantom device in the registry, but at worst you could end up causing yourself a major headache.

OK, so I took a risk and changed my "FriendlyName" for the "USB 2.0 Flash Disk USB Device" to "Blue Emtec 1GB Flash Drive" without any apparent problems ... so far :-)  Be aware, however, that  have not rebooted and I have been having so many problems with a PCI/USB2 add-on card based on a VIA chip since my recent fresh install that I am about to remove all usb devices and force Windows to redetect them all, otherwise I wouldn't be messing like that.

See screenshot of newly named device.

In my case, the "FriendlyName" value is in the registry key:


The key: [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USBSTOR] will be populated with a number of other devices with long identifiers as sub-key names, but if you were prepared to take a gamble you should find that the "FriendlyName" only occurs in one key ... at least on my system it does.

I'll reboot and see what havoc, if any, it has caused ;-)

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Expert Comment

ID: 24384505
I should have pointed out that Kechka's suggestion applies a chosen "Volume Label" to the Drive.  It is a great way to immediately spot which drive letter is which in Windows Explorer, however that name isn't what displays in the Safely Remove list.  The label is applied to the drive, and when connected will be stored in the registry as shown below (which is how I have Labelled my Flash Drives):


From memory, you can only have up to 11 characters in a Volume Label and I don't think it can contain spaces, although I stand to be corrected.  You wouldn't want a long Volume Label anyway, or it would clutter up your folder view.

I have attached a screenshot of my Device Manager launched using the batch file commands:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
start devmgmt.msc

and then using Device Manager's "View" menu to "Show Hidden Devices".

So far it has worked without ill effects (eg. like creating "unknown" phantom devices) after disconnecting and reconnecting the Flash Drives several times and rebooting once.

The risk is with you in the end, and I'm sorry that I won't be held responsible if it messes up your system.  I would suggest exporting the relevant registry keys as backups before messing, should you choose to do so.
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Expert Comment

ID: 24384512
Damn, wrong screenshot:
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Expert Comment

ID: 24384898
One thing you will most likely encounter, if you choose to do as I have just done in Regedit, is the "Permission" aspect.  If you try to modify the "FriendlyName" Data Value it may deny you permission with the error dialog:
"Cannot edit FriendlyName: Error writing to the value's new contents".

That is there for good reason, ie. to stop people like me from messing around in there.  If you right-click on the sub-key that contains the FriendlyName value (ie. right-click on the key in the left pane of regedit) and choose "Permissions", you will see that when the Group Name "SYSTEM" is selected, it will have all the "Allow" boxes ticked but greyed out.

When you select the "Everyone" user/group, the top box entitled "Full Control" will NOT be ticked. If you tick this, then click the "Apply" button, and close the Permissions dialog, you will be allowed to modify the FriendlyName's value and close Regedit to save the settings and immediately apply them.

BEWARE:  DO NOT tick or untick any of the "Deny" boxes in the Permissions dialog.

After renaming the value against "FriendlyName", you can reapply the original permission again if you like by UNticking ONLY the box that you ticked before, and applying the changed permission.

Best of luck.  I hope it doesn't mess anything up on your system.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 24393504
Thank you Garry.
Which option did you go for, the utility program suggested by Kechka or the registry modifications I explained?

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