Tech Answers: Do I Really Need to Eject a USB?

Tech Answers | November 30, 2021

They may be a bit outdated, sure, but we’re willing to bet you still have a USB drive floating around somewhere.  

Safeguarding your data is more important now than ever before. So, while the security capabilities of USB drives pale in comparison to that of modern, cloud-based storage solutions, we can’t blame you for keeping a physical backup – or two – just to be safe.  

However, like any piece of tech, USB drives prove faulty when used improperly. Are you confident that you’re taking good care of your own? 

Let us dispel some myths for you; Here’s what you need to know about using your USB storage devices correctly. 

What is a USB Drive? 

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus and describes an industry standard of specifications for cables, connectors, and other peripheral protocols for PCs. First manufactured in the mid-1990s, the acronym USB has since become synonymous with many of the devices that use this standard. From cords to mass storage devices, the name “USB” is often colloquially used to describe these tools themselves, rather than the connective hardware it actually defines.  

Therefore, when we talk about ejecting USBs, what we’re really discussing is the maintenance and care of thumb drives, flash drives, memory sticks, and other USB-enabled storage devices. These devices regularly act as a small external hard drive for sharing data, saving backup files, or, at times, running low-level programs.  

How do USB Drives Work? 

Most USB drives use flash memory (hence the term flash drive). Flash memory works by storing your information in binary code using transistors. While this type of memory certainly has its limitations, these transistors stay in the on or off position regardless of power, making the USB drive perfect for storage, mobility, or easy data transfer.  

So, Do I Need to Eject USB Drives or What? 

The short answer? It depends!  

“Safely removing” your USB drive by ejecting it first ensures that all of the data you’ve transferred is properly written on the drive. Doing so will guarantee that you do not lose vital data in the process of transfer. Basically, ejecting assures that the flash memory process is wholly complete before you disconnect the USB device from your PC. 

However, Microsoft has confirmed as recently as 2019 that PCS using Windows 10 and up should allow for quick removal without damaging your info. With this update, the default setting of your PC is no longer to continuously update files, but to do so only on command, meaning that so long as you aren’t actively transferring data you should be good to go. Although, safely ejecting is the only way to make sure that your data isn’t corrupted.  

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