Are you one of these people that simply plug and unplug USB drives at will? Well, you’re not alone - most people do this, but it might not be the best idea.

Mac users will be very familiar with warnings about disconnecting flash drives without ejecting. Windows users perhaps not so much. To put it simply – always eject a flash drive before disconnecting it. Most systems use functionality called ‘write caching’ to improve performance. This basically means that your operating system may not actually write your files immediately, but wait until it has a number of write requests and do all the work in one go. This is more common with smaller capacity files. Larger files are generally written immediately. If you press the eject button the cache is cleared out straight away and this might result in all sorts of problems – including file corruption.

However Windows recognises that users simply unplug devices without warning, so doesn’t use write caching nearly as much as Mac or Linux operating systems. Windows actually disables this ‘write caching’ facility as default, although this can be disabled.

Disconnecting without warning can also cause other issues beyond write caching. Ever got the error message ‘file is in use’? The file could still be in use somewhere in the Task Manager or perhaps locked the file for a reason unknown except to the operating system. Either way, data loss is a huge risk when you disconnect a USB flash drive without ejecting first.




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