One thing that seems to be common in modern computing is the USB thumb drive. You may use this device to store important files like your graduation thesis, pictures from your aunts wedding, or maybe your save files from a game released 20 years ago… whatever the use, it is an important tool in your computing life. What you may not know is why it's so important to always “Eject” the drive from the computer before removing it from the USB port. Keep reading below to find out!
So when you think of “Ejecting”, you probably see a DVD or Blu-Ray disk being pushed out in a tray, and since this isn’t exactly what is happening with your USB drive, why call it ejecting? Well, when you eject a USB device, you are in effect telling the computer that you are done with the device and would like to disconnect the device from the machine. When this happens, the computer will dump the rest of whatever data it was storing for use on the device and push all of that to the drive, only afterwards giving you the all clear to pull the drive from the machine.
“But I’m not actually using the USB Drive” I hear you say, and that may be true, but on all modern operating systems there exists a feature called Write Caching. This feature is intended to speed up performance between the flash drive and the machine by storing any data that is yet to be written to the drive in the temporary memory, and then the computer finds an opportune moment during an idle phase to write the data to the drive. So, as you can see there, even if you are done with the drive, your computer may not be.
Now we go back to the original question: “Do you need to “Eject” your USB Drives?” and we have come to a definitive YES! If you pull the drive from the computer while it is saving your data, typically indicated by a blinking light on the drive, you can not only corrupt the files that you were using, but you can also corrupt other files that have nothing to do with the file you were saving, or even damage the drive permanently. It is always in your best interest to take the brief extra moments required to click the eject drive button and wait till the computer says it’s ok to pull the drive.
What about those moments where the computer doesn’t seem to let the drive go? In this case, you most likely have either a file on the drive still open on the computer, or the computer is doing a large amount of writes to the drive. What we would recommend you to do is to shut down the computer (click the start menu, click shutdown) and then pull the drive from the computer. This also takes a little more time than just pulling the drive out of the machine, but it insures that any data you do have stored on the drive is safe.
We here at Dynamic Computers specialize in helping you to recover any data you may lose in situations like the above. If you have a data loss situation or any questions about the above, please leave us a comment below or give us a call at 423-805-9854 and let us help you in recovering your data!