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USB Drives. Do you just unplug them or Safely Remove them???

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USB Drives. Do you just unplug them or Safely Remove them???

Old 10-04-07, 11:08 PM
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USB Drives. Do you just unplug them or Safely Remove them???

I've had several people tell me that I HAVE to go through the 'Safely Remove Hardware' option in Windows, or 'Eject' option on a mac when I am using USB thumbdrives or USB hard drives.
I've always asked 'Why??' and the only logical answer I've ever recieved was that you need to safely remove it so the drive powers down before you unplug it.
I've tried this with a USB powered portable hard drive and it doesn't spin down when I choose the Safely Remove option.
I've just been unplugging these things for years and never had a problem.
What's the correct thing to do?
Old 10-04-07, 11:19 PM
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With my 500GB hard drive I safely remove option it, little 2GB flashers I just yank out without a problem.
Old 10-04-07, 11:40 PM
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I think the concern is regarding the integrity of the data on the drive. If you yank it out while the computer is in the process of reading from or writing to the drive, maybe you can screw up the file(s). The "safely remove" just handles the housekeeping to make sure no reading/writing is happening before giving the "now safe to remove" message. I'm not an expert on this, but it seems logical to me. BTW, I've read that it is REALLY important to go through the "safely remove" procedure with the U3 flash drives.

Last edited by jonnyquest; 10-05-07 at 12:14 AM.
Old 10-04-07, 11:54 PM
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When possible, I go the "safe remove hardware" route because I don't want to chance corrupting data on the memory stick.

Last edited by Patman; 10-05-07 at 12:01 AM.
Old 10-04-07, 11:55 PM
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just unplug.. but as mentioned above.. alot of that has to do with activity and size
Old 10-05-07, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by John Slider
With my 500GB hard drive I safely remove option it, little 2GB flashers I just yank out without a problem.
Me too.
Old 10-05-07, 12:30 AM
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yes data can be corrupted, more likely simply lost, most probably the latest updates to a file or newest files by simply removing the drive, due to 'write behind' and some other things... because the data "on" the drive can be cached, and needs to be 'synched' or actually written to the flash drive before removal, the 'safely remove' program is there for a reason...

i have seen many posts on tech forums where the drive was yanked and all data was lost... it had to be reformatted because the lost caching had rendered the data unable to used or accessed...

i have also seen posts about drives ruined by sudden removal...

those people started using safely remove religiously i feel sure

this caching may also be an application accessing/modifying the file, anti-virus or anti-spyware may be inspecting the file, there are quite a few things, but most likely it's the OS as i mentioned... you can see IF(note the edit here) caching is set on a flash drive in the hardware properties under policies... (my computer, right click on the drive, properties, hardware, highlight the
drive, properties, policies)

it's not necessarily common... so most people simply yank it and have no problems, or at lest don't notice the problems as data loss is more likely... not corruption of the whole drive...

you also have to bear in mind are you actually accessing or modifying files on that drive with an application, or are you simply copying static files like images or binaries... if an application is still accessing or pointed at the file on the drive and you remove it... this can also be a problem...

i would recommend you use the 'safely remove' option...

to make it more convenient you can create a shortcut on your desktop pointing to the appropriate files... by using it you can safely remove... i guess call it 'safely remove' or something...

RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll

(a space between rundll and shell32.dll and control and hotplug)

the fact that most people don't actively modify files on a flash drive, but use it as a repository for static files, is why the problems are not so widely known?... or write behind and all caching is written to the drive in lull moment of system time and they just get lucky?... just guesses though...

Last edited by Dr Mabuse; 10-05-07 at 01:25 AM.
Old 10-05-07, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr Mabuse
the fact that most people don't actively modify files on a flash drive, but use it as a repository for static files, is why the problems are not so widely known?... or write behind and all caching is written to the drive in lull moment of system time and they just get lucky?... just guesses though...
Starting with Windows XP, write caching is disabled by default on removable devices. The only way you can create filesystem inconsistencies is by yanking the device while it's in the middle of a write, and most people know better than to remove devices with flashing activity lights.
Old 10-05-07, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by GHackmann
Starting with Windows XP, write caching is disabled by default on removable devices. The only way you can create filesystem inconsistencies is by yanking the device while it's in the middle of a write, and most people know better than to remove devices with flashing activity lights.
you are correct that most of the time the default setting is not set to 'optimize for performance'... it depends on the device though...

the rest is inaccurate...

that in no way makes surprise removal a good idea... and i was being thorough... i do see i didn't type the "if" in the sentence "you can see IF caching is set on a..." my bad i'll edit it...

microsoft went with that option, admitting it caused a loss of performance, because they rather openly stated that most users were simply too foolish to use 'safely remove hardware'... or understand why the program is there...

i see that trend continues with some...

Last edited by Dr Mabuse; 10-05-07 at 01:27 AM.
Old 10-08-07, 02:21 PM
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I lost a significant chunk of my music collection once when I yanked out my portable harddrive's usb cable once. I was able to recover a lot of the files but many of them became corrupted. I learned a valuable lesson about why you should back up your data and why you should use the "Safely remove ..." command.
Old 10-09-07, 09:26 AM
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I always do the Safely Remove just to be...safe.
Old 10-09-07, 06:32 PM
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I always use Safely Remove. I used to have to unmount floppies in Linux, so I already had the habits in place.
Old 10-09-07, 06:40 PM
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I just unplug. I always thought thats what you were supposed to do with usb things. I have seen that thing on the toolbar but I figure MS just put that their for people who were not sure how to remove a usb device.

Old 10-09-07, 09:20 PM
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Another one here who always uses "Safely Remove". Also makes plugging in the next one easier and more quickly possible because the system recognizes that the first device has been removed. I sometimes remove one USB device and then 10 seconds later I plug in a different USB device. If I just "unplug" the first device then sometimes the system fails to recognize the device I just plugged in. If I "Safely Remove" the first device then I never have a problem with the next device which I plug in.
Old 10-09-07, 09:54 PM
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I just unpl
Old 10-10-07, 07:55 AM
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Another vote for "Safely Remove"

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