Do I Have To Eject My USB Drive?

USB Drive

While we regularly preach using the cloud for storage (and with good reason!), but we understand that sometimes, you need to use alternate measures. Perhaps you’re taking a file to a printer, giving a physical copy of a project to a client, or perhaps you like having a tangible object as a backup for your files. Regardless of the reason, you probably have used a USB drive before, and you’ve likely pulled the stick out of the USB port and gotten a message similar to this:

USB Drive Eject Message

Why does this come up? Your computer utilizes a feature called write caching. Write caching is all about efficiency, meaning that it is waiting for a certain amount of tasks to do so that it can do all the work at once. In one session with your USB drive, you may save the same file several times and copy a different file onto the drive. Instead of doing this as it goes, which is very tedious, it waits until it has enough work, then performs all tasks simultaneously. When you choose to eject, you are telling the cache to release all the data in the queue by completing all awaiting tasks regardless of how much is in the queue. By safely ejecting your drive, your computer has a moment to complete tasks waiting in the queue to fend off data loss.

Sometimes when you try to eject your USB drive, you will get a file in use error, like this:

USB Drive File Still In Use

This simply mean that there’s something going on in the background that restricts the USB drive from being ejected despite the fact that everything appears closed. There may be tasks in the queue that have not been completed yet, so they are being completed at that moment, or there may be another situation going on in the background. Your best choice in this scenario is to go to your task manager and close the program, then try to eject again.

If you do not safely eject your USB drive, you can lose any data that was in the queue. If the USB drive is removed before it completely finished clearing the queue, that data–and possibly other data on the drive–may be corrupted. In the end, it is best to safely remove all USB drives from your technology. There is nothing to lose by taking the one simple step for precaution, but neglecting to do so can have costly consequences.