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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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