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Protecting Your USB Data- Safely Remove Hardware

Why should I use the “Safely Remove Hardware” icon?

Back before Windows 7, removing a USB drive could be a trying event. Even though you thought had finished using the device, when you tried to remove it, sometimes it seemed you had to keep trying to remove it even an hour after you had finished using it!

Punny humor aside, using the Safely Remove Hardware icon can literally protect your data from harm. Modern Windows offers the following options which can be reached by going to control panel, device manager, opening disk drives, right clicking, choosing properties, and then policies.

Is what Windows saying really true? Can I really just grab the device and run?

Well, partially. If the device is still running, you really should not! It will probably corrupt the file system on your USB drive. I had that happen more than once. When you reinsert the drive and Windows detects it you can be sure it will inform you and then you need to wait while it does a file system check and is hopefully able to repair it.

How can I tell if the computer is really finished using the drive? Some drives have little lights to let you know, but then some of them flash periodically just to let you know they are still attached.

Ultimately the best thing for both you and the drive is to use the safely remove hardware icon. In the long run, it will save you time and loss of data and on rare occasions even the USB drive itself.

If you have never used the icon before, it's pretty basic.

Put your mouse over it and right click: the following will happen.

Left click on Eject USB Mass Storage Device.

Windows will give you one of the two following messages:

If you get this one, you're good to go.

Do what it says before you go to the last resort which is shutting down Windows before removing it. As an example, I once had a movie running off my USB, but was thinking it was running off my regular drive. Took me a minute to figure it out. I'm glad I used the icon and didn't risk ruining that movie!

In summary, save yourself time and grief- always use the safely remove hardware icon before removing your USB drive.

Want more computer tips and tricks? Check out the ZookaWare youtube page.

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