The other day a friend asked if it was still required to “safely remove” USB items like thumb drives or external hard drives in the Windows 7 Operating System. Regardless of what settings you have adjusted or tweaks you may have done on your computer system the safest answer is always going to be YES. Regardless if you are using a MAC or a PC, the safest answer is always going to be YES.
It may sound like common sense but you’d be amazed at how many people disconnect a device without properly removing it and lose their data or make otherwise good files become corrupt.
It can be very hard to physically determine if the computer is reading or writing information from or to your external device. Thumb drives for example do not have any moving parts. You won’t “feel” the thumb drive vibrating. You won’t “hear” the hard disk spin up. If you get lucky the thumb drive may have some type of access light but even those don’t always reflect what is really going on with your drive.
So the safest thing to do is safely remove the device before pulling it. In Windows there are actually two ways to remove external devices. The most common one has to be right clicking on the icon in the system tray (lower right corner of your screen). In the resulting pop up box click on the device you’d like to safely remove. The computer will often take a few seconds at this point so wait for the confirmation that everything is ok to proceed.
The 2nd method of removing a device safely is to open the Computer / My Computer icon (Windows File Explorer) and right clicking on the device. An option of “eject” will be presented in the resulting pop up window. Again wait a few seconds for confirmation before removing your item.
In a Mac simply drag the device’s icon from your desktop onto your recycle bin. The icon will actually change to the eject image as you “drop” your item into the recycle bin. Give it a few seconds and once the icon is no longer on your desktop you should be able to safely remove the device.
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