Many computer users are in the habit of “hot swapping” USB port devices, such as keyboards, mice, flash drives and external hard drives. USB devices such as keyboards and mice can usually be plugged in and unplugged without any problems. However, there is a safety procedure to follow when removing USB storage devices that can prevent corrupted data.
“Hot swapping” is a computer term often used to refer to the inserting and removing of a USB device from a computer while the computer is turned on. Hot swapping makes it very convenient to insert or remove a flash drive, for example, without having to turn the computer off and on again. This saves time waiting for the computer to boot back up again and launch the desired application. Once a USB device’s software or driver is installed on a computer, the device can be plugged in or unplugged as needed. However, because the computer accesses files on USB storage devices, removing the device while a file is being written to or read from, or while a file on the device is open, can cause a loss of data and files can be corrupted. Even though a light on a flash drive or an external hard drive may indicate that no data is currently being accessed on the drive, there may still be an application program running that has an open file on the drive, which must be properly closed to ensure files are not damaged and all directories are correctly updated.
The Procedure For Safe USB Removal
Click on the small green arrow at the bottom right of the Windows task bar on the screen. When you hover your mouse over this icon, it displays the message, “Safely Remove Hardware.”
If The Green Arrow Is Not Visible
Place your mouse over the blue arrow button at the bottom right of the task bar if you do not see the green arrow. You may not have all of the task bar icons showing. Hovering your mouse over the blue arrow will display the message “Show Hidden Icons”. Click on it and more icons will appear, and the green arrow will be among them.
Accessing The Removal Program
Click on the green arrow and any USB storage devices that are attached (you can have more than one at a time) will show up, along with their drive letter designation. For example, if you have a flash drive designated as drive H:, the message will appear, “Safely remove USB mass storage device – Drive (H:)”. Click on this text, or on the text of the device you want to remove, and Windows will close any open files and ensure no activity is currently taking place. Pproper directory updating will also take place if needed.
Wait For Confirmation
Wait a moment until a message appears on the bottom right hand side of the screen, saying, “Safe to remove hardware. The USB mass storage device can now be safely removed from the system.”