We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
2,862 Tutorials

Safely Remove USB Drives Just by Unplugging Them

All evidence to the contrary, you don't have to bother with the 'Safely Remove Hardware' step. Here's how to make the necessary tweaks.

Most Windows users have become conditioned over time to never unplug a USB flash drive or hard drive without first clicking Safely Remove Hardware in the System Tray.

Why is that necessary? In theory, it's to ensure that Windows isn't busy reading from or writing to the drive when you remove it, something that could result in corrupted data or even a damaged drive.

As it turns out, however, you can safely sidestep Safely Remove Hardware with little to no loss of performance. In fact, this option may already be enabled on your system, and you just didn't know it. Yep, you may have been wasting extra clicks all this time.

Do this:

1. Plug your USB drive into your PC, then open Device Manager. (Note: These steps are based on Windows 7. Things might look different in previous versions of Windows.)

2. Expand Disk Drives, then find the entry for your removable drive. On my system, for example, it's called "USB2.0 Flash Disk USB Device."

3. Right-click that entry, then click Properties.

4. Click the Policies tab.

5. If the first option, Quick removal, is already selected, you're good to go. As noted in its description, "you can disconnect the device safely without using the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon." If Better performance is selected, switch to Quick removal and click OK.

So, what are giving up by disabling write caching? According to the test results posted at 7tutorials, almost nothing. The performance impact was negligible. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think it's worth a few milliseconds to avoid the hassles of having to mess with Safely Remove Hardware all the time.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at [email protected], or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model