Do I have to safely eject my USB key?

One of the primary reasons to safely eject the USB drive is to avoid corrupting data contained within it. When you insert the USB into a port, there is potentially loads of data being written onto that drive. Ejecting the USB drive even before the process is completed can result in the data being compromised

To avoid losing data, it's important to remove external hardware like hard drives and USB drives safely. 

  1. Look for the Safely Remove Hardware icon on the taskbar. If you don't see it, select Show hidden icons . Press and hold (or right-click) the icon and select the hardware you want to remove.

  2. If you can't find the Safely Remove Hardware icon, press and hold (or right-click) the taskbar and select Taskbar settings .

  3. Under Notification Area, choose Select which icons appear on the taskbar.

  4. Scroll to Windows Explorer: Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media and turn it on.

  5. If this doesn't work, make sure the device has stopped all activity like copying or syncing files. Select Start  > Settings  > Devices. Select the device, and click Remove device.

  6. Finally, check with the hardware manufacturer for new drivers or other updates.

Data Corruption Danger

The Windows dialog shown above is misleading. If you unplug your USB device while data is being written to it – for example, while you’re moving files to it or while you’re saving a file to it – this can result in data corruption. No matter which option you use, you should ensure that your USB device isn’t in-use before unplugging it – some USB sticks may have lights on them that blink while they’re being used.

However, even if the USB device doesn’t appear to be in-use, it may still be in-use. A program in the background may be writing to the drive – so data corruption could result if you unplugged the drive. If your USB stick doesn’t appear to be in-use, you can probably unplug it without any data corruption occurring – however, to be safe, it’s still a good idea to use the Safely Remove Hardware option. When you eject a device, Windows will tell you when it’s safe to remove – ensuring all programs are done with it.

Write Caching

If you select the Better Performance option, Windows will cache data instead of writing it to the USB device immediately. This will improve your device’s performance – however, data corruption is much more likely to occur if you unplug the USB device without using the Safely Remove Hardware option. If caching is enabled, Windows won’t write the data to your USB device immediately – even if the data appears to have been written to the device and all file progress dialogs are closed, the data may just be cached on your system.

When you eject a device, Windows will flush the write cache to the disk, ensuring all necessary changes are made before notifying you when it’s safe to remove the drive.

While the Quick Removal option decreases USB performance, it’s the default to minimize the chances of data corruption in day-to-day use – many people may forget to use – or never use – the Safely Remove Hardware option when unplugging USB devices.

Safely Removing Hardware

Ultimately, no matter which option you use, you should use the Safely Remove Hardware icon and eject your device before unplugging it. You can also right-click it in the Computer window and select Eject. Windows will tell you when it’s safe to remove the device, eliminating any changes of data corruption.