Safely Removing USB Flash Storage Devices

May 10, 2011, By Christian Cawley

USB memory sticks, pen drives, key drives, thumb drives, flash sticks, call them what you will – they’re very useful for saving data quickly and efficiently in a variety of different sizes and formats, and have completely replaced the humble old floppy disk as the removable storage medium of choice.

However removing a USB memory device from a PC or laptop is a risky business. You can’t simply pull the device out and expect the data you have previously saved to remain intact.

Instead, following a very quick and easy series of steps will enable you to enjoy corruption-free USB memory device use.

Safely remove a USB flash storage drive

Why Use the Safe Removal Method?

Well, the answer is in the question: it is safe.

Safely removing your USB memory device means that any continuing access by Windows is brought to an end before you disconnect it from your computer.

With an open window to the drive, continuing copying of any data to the drive and continued access from an application that you might have been using when you saved directly to the USB flash drive, Windows will consider the device as a mounted device, and by yanking it out of the USB slot you can cause data corruption, either in data that is still being copied to the device or on a more general basis to the USB memory stick as a whole.

After all, if you have gone to the trouble of copying a 1.5 GB video file to your USB flash device and waited for the process to complete, pulling the drive out of the USB port without safely removing can easily leave you with a corrupt video file.

Safely Removing USB Flash Storage Devices

In order to prevent any form of corruption occurring at the removal stage (although note that misuse or poor care of your USB memory device will lead to corruption, so take care not to drop it or leave it near extreme temperatures) you should be aware of the simple method used to safely remove your USB flash storage.

When you insert a USB flash device, Windows will detect it and by default display a small window which will ask you how you want to access the device. This confirms that Windows has detected the device, and as a result you should see the device listed in the system tray, probably with a green arrow.

To safely remove the USB flash storage device (the same applies to MP3 players and removable optical disc drives and hard drives), right-click the USB device in the system tray and select Eject [DISKNAME]. This will then allow you to select the device for removal; Windows may spend a few moments checking the device, finishing any on-going tasks, etc., but within a few moments you should be able to remove the device safely, securely and without any loss of data!

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