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  • Emma Lake Boydston

Do I Need to Eject USB Drives?

It’s widely (but not universally) known that you should tell your computer’s operating system to safely eject a USB drive prior to physically removing it from its port.  But must you really? And what’s the downside if you don’t? Both Windows and Apple computers have this feature. In Windows you can click the little black-and-white icon of a USB drive in the lower right corner of the system tray, or open File Explorer and right-click on the drive; in Apple you can drag the USB drive icon from the desktop to the trashcan or open Finder and click the eject icon next to the drive name. This little step ensures that the drive is no longer in use by making sure that a behind-the-scenes process called “write caching” is complete. If you get a message that the drive can’t be ejected, confirm you have all open files closed and try again in a minute. If all else fails, turn off the computer and then you can safely remove the drive. If you do happen to remove the drive before ejecting it, you run the risk of data loss or in rare cases rendering the drive useless.

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