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Should you bother ejecting a USB drive properly?

You’re regularly nagged about it when you don’t but is it any harm to just take it out manually?

Image: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

USB STICKS ARE handy little devices. With the increase in storage space on flash drives and no change in size, it’s easy to carry around large files without having to lug around a giant hard drive.

Using them is easy enough but anytime you take it out, you normally get a notification saying you shouldn’t have done that.

Yet does it really matter? There’s probably hundreds of times where you took out a USB drive without thinking and nothing bad happened so why does it remind you about ejecting?

The answer is it acts as a kind of safety measure for your USB drive, ensuring that you don’t end up accidentally corrupting any files on it.

Hard drives do two things: reading and writing files. Those two actions are self-explanatory, but the main thing to understand is when you do any action with a USB drive, it carries out a process called ‘cache writing’. This is to help improve performance by keeping information in your computer’s RAM instead of the USB.

What happens is if you take your USB drive out of your PC before or while info is being written, you’ll likely end up with corrupt files.

That said, most versions of Windows disable cache writing on USB devices so unless you specifically ask for it to be enabled, you won’t have to worry about ejecting it unless you’re reading or writing something from it.

You can check to see if ‘cache writing’ is on by going into Control Panel > Device Manager > Human Interface Devices. Here, right-click USB Input Device and select Properties. In some versions, there’s a tab called Policies here which allows you to activate it.

An example of this would be running something in the background and deciding to remove your USB drive. If you don’t try to eject it (which it will stop you from doing since you’re running a programme), you could risk corrupting those files.

Ultimately, it’s a good habit to get into in case you do end up with a situation where you’re transferring important data from computer to USB and vice versa. You’ve no idea what kind of files will end up corrupted if you do and you’re better of waiting until it’s finished working before you remove it.

Eject USB

If you’re dealing with normal documents and you pull it out without ejecting it, it won’t be the end of the world, but if you have important documents or files saved, then you’re better off not taking any chances.

Read: People are really annoyed at Twitter for deleting their background pics >

Read: There’s a quick and easy way to make your accounts more secure >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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