I’m sure you’ve been warned plenty of times that you should eject your USB drive or memory card before removing it from your computer. But admit it, do you actually do it? In this video, Linus Sebastian of Techquickie discusses if you should really safely remove your drives, and when it can be absolutely necessary to do it.
Ejecting the drive basically tells your operating system to “wrap up whatever it’s doing with the USB drive to prepare it for yanking out,” as Linus scientifically explains it. It will make your drive partially disconnected: it’s still physically connected to your computer, but the computer can’t communicate with the drive anymore.
The essential benefit of ejecting your drive before removing it is preventing your data from being corrupted. If you pull out the USB drive from the computer while it’s still writing the data on it, you may later find out that the data on the drive is unreadable. But what if you’ve safely closed everything you were working on and now just want to grab the USB drive and move on with your life? Well, it depends on the operating system you’re using and whether you’ve fiddled with certain settings.
Linus explains further that Windows has a feature called “Write Caching.” It is designed to improve the speed of transferring data to removable devices. When it’s turned on, any data you want to transfer to a USB drive is held in a cache in your system memory. This speeds up the transferring process, but there’s a downside. It also makes your USB drive much more susceptible to corruption if you don’t eject it before physically removing it. Your PC might show that copying data is 100% complete, but it might not actually be done.
As Linus explains, the speed boost you get with this feature is negligible, so you might as well disable it. This way there will be less chance of having the data corrupted if you don’t eject the USB drive first. However, there’s still a small chance it will happen, because your OS might still be writing small amounts of data in the background.
With Linux and iOS, “Write Caching” is enabled by default. This means that it would be a good idea to always eject your drives before removing them from the computer if you don’t want to end up with corrupted data.
In conclusion, Windows users are probably safe even if they just physically remove the drive from their computer. Still, I agree with Linus that it’s worth taking two extra seconds of your time to eject the drive properly. Personally, I always do it because I don’t want to risk the pain of losing my photos, articles or whatever it is I’m saving. And what about you? Do you safely remove your drives, or you like to live dangerously?