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How to Safely Remove USB Drives from Your Laptop

Before you unplug that USB drive from your laptop you might want to consider taking a few extra steps before doing so. You may have noticed the icon in your system tray, or notification area that looks like the end of a USB cable and has a small solid green circle with a white check mark in it.

Safely Remove Hardware

This is the Safely Remove Hardware indicator and it means that you have a USB device, like a hard drive or camcorder for example, connected to your laptop computer. The reason why it is important that you actually use this feature of the operating system is so that the data does not become corrupt by removing the USB device from the laptop at the wrong time.

For example say you were making a backup of a directory on your laptop to your external hard drive. If you happened to unplug the drive from the laptop while the data transfer was still occurring you may not even know that there was an issue. Then when you latter try to access the data on the external drive you discover that there is an error informing you that the data is inaccessible. This means that the backup is essentially worthless, or at least the files which were interrupted during the original transfer are.

This is why taking just a few seconds to use the Safely Remove Hardware feature in your Windows operating system is well worth the time and effort. Here are the steps that you will see when getting ready to unplug the USB device:
Step One

  • See the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the notification area (left side of the taskbar by the clock).
  • Double click the icon.

Step Two

  • Select the device you wish to unplug.
  • Click the Stop button

Step Three

  • A confirmation screen will appear so that you can verify the device you have selected. If it looks correct then click the OK button.

Step Four

  • A notification will appear when it is safe to remove the device. You can click the OK button, close the other open windows and now remove your device knowing that your data is safe.
  • It is as easy as that!

Many enclosures will have a hard drive activity indicator light on them but it is still the safest procedure to use this feature. It is not necessary since USB devices are plug and play but if your data does become corrupt then it can become unusable.

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Refurbished Laptops Task Manager

Troubleshooting a new or refurbished laptops performance issue will often require taking a look at the system resources being used in the Windows Task Manager.

For example on an XP or Vista laptop the easiest way to open the Task Manager is to right click the Task Bar and choose Task Manager. The first tab which is called Applications is handy for discovering what actual applications are open at that specific point in time. This is useful because it can give an indication of what is causing the amount of Processes which are running. You can also see if any known spyware happens to be running as well.

The running processes are what you should really be interested in if it is a performance issue or there is suspected spyware infestation. Along the bottom of the Task Manager window you can see the number of processes running and you can also see the current CPU usage. If the system is basically idle your CPU usage should be very low as in basically zero.

If you just move your finger along the touchpad of your laptop computer then you will see the CPU Usage respond by going up a few percentage points. This is perfectly normal but if your processor is pegged at 100% then there is definitely a piece of software causing the performance issue. This is when I would look at the Processes running eating up the system resources in XP and other Windows operating systems.
If you click on the Processes tab next to the Applications tab you will then see the actual files and processes which are running as well as their PID, the amount of system memory they are using, and the percentage of the CPU they are using. This is where you can identify which file is using up system resources and 100% of the processor in this example.

You can sort the columns by clicking on the word CPU for example along the top of the Task Manager window. If you click on it once you will see it change from lowest to highest. System Idle Process will always show very high like 99% when no instructions are being sent to the processor.

However in this example if you were to find an application or file taking up a very large percentage of the new or refurbished laptops CPU power constantly, then you would be able to research and identify the file so that you could identify the application it is associated with. If it where spyware then you would know what you are dealing with and could progress accordingly. If it were an application which you intentionally use on your laptop computer then you would have to begin troubleshooting the particular application as to why it is eating up so much of the system resources and processing power.

There is a great deal more which can be done with the Task Manager when using it as a laptop troubleshooting tool. However this is just very basic information on how we use it when we are troubleshooting system resources on XP or Vista or basically any Microsoft operating system these days.

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