17 April 2013

Do you need to 'Safely Remove' a USB device?

When you use a USB device – do you just pull it out when you’re done?  
You've probably been told that you should ‘safely remove’ the device from your computer – but is it really necessary?


Data Corruption Danger

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. You need to make sure your USB device isn't in use before you unplug it.  Some USB sticks have lights on them to indicate that they are still in use.

However, even if your USB device doesn't appear to be in-use, it still may be. A program in the background may be writing to the drive – so data corruption could result if you unplugged it. 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.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Safely Remove Hardware icon is found at the right hand end of your Windows task bar. It may be a separate icon on the task tar, or it may appear in the collection of icons when you click on the up-arrow.

  • Select the Safely Remove Hardware icon
  • Click on the device you want to remove

  • Wait for the response from Windows advising that it is safe to remove before you unplug it


You can also right-click the device in the Computer window and select Eject.


  1. ooh! This is great thank you!
    I have top confess to being guilty of just whipping it out!

    1. You're not the only one, Rebecca! I got caught out one time - didn't think and just pulled it out - it hadn't finished writing the files that I needed, which I didn't find out until I was in the class I needed them for - damn! Thank goodness for Dropbox - I was still able to access them. Margaret