Saturday, May 18, 2013

Removing Ghost Devices from your unit

This is actually asked inside the forum and I said, hey this is likewise a good topic to add here in my blog, so...

What are Ghost Devices?

Well we can simply say this.  A ghost is believed to be an entity that is there but cannot be seen.  So a Ghost Device is on your unit but is hidden.  Also a ghost is a remnant of your physical being.  Ghost Devices likewise are remnants of your previous device installations like a scanner or printer that is no longer plugged into your machine, a mass storage device, a mobile phone, etc.  And even a single device can have several Ghost Entries on a single unit based on which port you plug that device to.

A ghost device is also sometimes referred to as a Phantom device.

How to manually clean Ghost Devices?

I will simply refer you instead to this Microsoft article:

Is there a way to prevent Ghosting?

Yes there are but not totally foolproof.  I will tackle here the normal way first and then later the alternative ways.

The normal way

The normal way is via Safely Remove icon in the notification area.  While we can easily unplug devices without removing it safely which works as long as there is no read/write activity on the device, it is still not fully safe.  There is a chance you'll run on data corruption or in case of mass storage devices, Safely removing it will also include parking of the head which will prevent scratches on the disc inside it.   For flash drives, there is no head and disc to scratch so yes it is less prone to hardware failure as long as it totally stops blinking (meaning there is no more read or write activity going on).

However, aside from parking the head and closing open files, one purpose of that safely removal actually is for the OS to know that the device will be no longer be used and so it can free up the resources it is using.

I am missing Safely Remove icon in notification area, what to do?

This happens every now and then. So what to do if safely remove icon is not there?  You can call up the HotPlug Manager.  To do that, click Start, Run and then type RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL HotPlug.dll

What again are the alternatives?

If you are so conscious against ghosting or your line of work is dependent on constantly removing those ghost devices like when you are engaged in mobile services (repairs, upgrades and maintenance), then you may possibly encounter problems due to ghost devices that you may require removing the related phantom entries before you can successfully detect or operate the mobile device.  In which case, I would recommend that you rather acquire:

a.  Faronics' DeepFreeze software.

What DeepFreeze do is give you control over restricting installation of new hardware or software (after you have frozen your unit), freeze specific drives, etc.  That when you reboot, all newly detected devices or newly installed apps will likewise be lost.  This is actually good and we are using it on Internet Caffe's because that involves less maintenance against malware detections and removals.  With internet user's, you cannot fully control on which site they will go and what they will click.  So in that case, DeepFreeze is a really good alternative solution.  And also you won't have to worry about ghost devices as well.

b. If your concern is only for these ghost devices, here is a good tool for that aptly named GhostBuster.

But while I am pointing you to these alternatives, I am not giving any guarantee that every thing would be okay as it is normal that on case to case scenarios, there may be some adverse effects especially that these touches registry entries as well.

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