How to remove USB sticks from your PC: A document? A photo album? A video? Come on, tell me this time which file you no longer find in your USB stick . Yes, the one you removed from the PC forcibly following the umpteenth error message that warned you that a file or a program contained in it was still in use.
Of course you are just incorrigible! I don’t know how many times I told you: if you remove a USB stick from the computer without taking advantage of the safe removal function of the hardware, you seriously risk corrupting the data on the unit and making them unreadable: this happens because you don’t give the time the system to complete the copy of the data on the stick and, therefore, you find yourself with a series of corrupt files that are completely unusable.
To remedy the situation and avoid wasting your time, you must absolutely learn how to remove USB sticks from your PC properly. I guarantee you that it doesn’t take who knows what commitment: two clicks, maximum three and, regardless of the operating system you use on your computer, you will be able to copy the data to your USB drives without corrupting them and without risking unnecessary damage to the devices. Come on, take five minutes of free time, read the directions I’m going to give you and treasure it for the next few times you will connect a USB stick or portable hard disk to your PC.
How to remove USB sticks from a Windows PC
Let’s start this tutorial on how to remove USB sticks from your PC by talking about Windows . Before getting to the heart of the matter, however, let me explain how the Microsoft home operating system “treats” removable drives and why it is important to use the safe removal function of USB sticks.
Quick removal vs Better performance
Windows can work with USB drives using two different approaches: the first is called Quick Removal , involves writing data directly to USB drives and allows you to disconnect the sticks without resorting to the safe removal of the hardware function (as the risk of corruption of data is limited). The second, on the other hand, is called Better performance , uses the system cache to temporarily save the data to be written on the USB drives (to speed up the transfer) and needs the function of safe removal of the hardware to avoid data corruption (which with this method it is more likely).
The “Quick Removal” mode is the one that Windows uses by default to manage USB drives, so in theory it would be possible to remove the sticks without using the safe hardware removal function, but I do not recommend taking advantage of this approach. Why? I’ll explain it right away.
While reducing the likelihood of data corruption (at the expense of a slight slowdown in drive performance), the Quick Remove USB sticks mode does not eliminate the risk of corrupting files if, for example, you disconnect a drive from your PC while it is the transfer of data to it is in progress. At this point, you may be wondering: who is crazy enough to remove a USB stick while data is being transferred? Well, maybe nobody, but it is not uncommon for some background process to copy data on USB sticks without the user noticing: and it is precisely here that the risk of data corruption is high, regardless of the approach used by Windows to manage the keys.
Now do you understand why I always recommend using the safe hardware removal function ? By using this function (which does not cost more than a couple of clicks to the user!), All data transfers to USB drives are concluded and it is Windows itself that suggests to the user when he can remove his stick without incurring the risk of data corruption.
Note: if you were wondering, you can choose whether to use the Quick Removal mode or the Best Performance mode for each USB stick connected to your PC by clicking on the Windows Start button (the flag located in the lower left corner of the screen), by searching for “device management” in the menu that opens and selecting the Device Management icon from the search results. In the window that opens, expand the Disk drives menu , right click on the name of your stick , select the Properties itemfrom the context menu and, in the window that appears on the screen, choose the option of your interest from the Criteria tab .
Safe removal of USB sticks from PC
There are several ways you can go to use the hardware safe removal feature found in Windows, one easier than the other.
The first solution you can adopt is to click on the USB stick icon in the notification area (next to the Windows clock) and select the name of the unit to be removed from the menu that appears.
Within a few seconds, Windows will stop all communication with the stick (which should stop flashing, if equipped with an indicator light) and will tell you that you can disconnect it from the computer.
If you don’t see the USB stick icon next to the Windows clock, click on the ▲ arrow and so you will see all the icons in the notification area of your PC (among which there should also be one related to USB drives).
Another way to achieve the same result is to open the Windows File Explorer (the yellow folder icon located at the bottom left of the taskbar), select the item This PC / Computer from the left side of the window that opens, right click on the icon of the USB stick to be removed and select the Eject item from the context menu.
In case of problems
Even if you click the ▲ arrow, you cannot see the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the Windows notification area? Don’t panic. Call up the Run panel … by pressing the combination of Win + R keys on your PC keyboard (the Win key is the one with the Windows flag), type the command
rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dllin the window that has opened and press Enter .
A window will open with the list of USB devices connected to the computer and a button to “deactivate” them, that is, to disconnect them safely from the PC. Then select the stick to be ejected, click the Disable button , give OK and wait for Windows to tell you the right time to remove the drive.
Despite the tricks you have put into practice so far, have you failed to take advantage of Windows’ safe hardware removal feature? Perhaps a program holds your stick “hostage” preventing you from disconnecting it from the computer.
To resolve the problem, try closing all programs running on your PC and repeat the procedure to safely remove the hardware. Alternatively, try logging out of your user account on Windows, log in to the system again and try logging out the key again.
Another solution you can rely on in an emergency is USB Disk Ejector : it is a free and open source program that allows you to remove USB drives from your PC automatically based on various conditions (e.g.). One of its most useful functions is the forced closing of the applications executed by the keys, which, as known, can prevent the correct ejection of the units from the PC.
To download USB Disk Ejector to your computer, connected to the official website of the program and click first on the Download it here button located at the bottom of the page and then on the Download USB Disk Ejector button on the next screen.
When the download is complete, open the zip archive containing the USB Disk Ejector, extract the contents to any folder and start the executable USB_Disk_Eject.exe . In the window that opens, click on the More item located at the bottom left, select the Options item from the menu that appears and choose the Ejection tab from the left side of the screen with the program options.
Then put the check mark next to the entry Force the program to close and click on the OK button to automatically close all the applications executed by the keys, which can prevent the correct expulsion of the same.
At this point, locate the name of the stick you want to remove from the PC from the main window of USB Disk Ejector, double click on it and the drive should be safely removed from Windows.
How to remove USB sticks from Mac
Do you use a Mac ? In this case, since macOS always uses the cache for copying data on the sticks, you must necessarily resort to the function of safe removal of the hardware made available by the Apple operating system. Think: you have three ways to control the safe ejection of a key from macOS. Let’s find out all in detail.
If you have activated the option to display the USB drives icon on the desktop ( Finder> Preferences> General> External disks ), you can eject a stick simply by selecting its icon on the desktop and dragging it to the Trash in the lower right of the Dock bar .
Alternatively, if you prefer, you can right-click on the USB drive icon on the MacOS desktop and select the Eject [key name] item from the menu that appears. Make sure to remove the stick from your computer only when the drive icon disappears from the desktop.
Another possible solution you can adopt is to open the Finder (the smiling face icon located at the bottom left of the Dock bar), locate the name of the stick to be ejected in the left sidebar and click on the ⏏ button next to it .
In case of problems, that is, if you do not want to remove a USB drive from your Mac, try logging out of the system and logging in to macOS again.
If you don’t know how to disconnect from macOS, click on the apple symbol at the top left (in the menu bar) and select the Log out from [your name] item from the menu that opens.
How to remove USB sticks from Linux
If you use a computer equipped with Linux , for example with a distro like Ubuntu , you can remove USB devices in a very similar way to that seen for macOS.
Then locate the icon of the drive to be ejected on the desktop of the operating system, right-click on it and select the item Remove drive safely from the menu that appears.
Alternatively, if you prefer, you can open the file manager of your distro (eg File on Ubuntu), find the name of the stick in the left sidebar and press the ⏏ button next to the latter.
Again, I remind you that before removing the USB stick from the PC you have to wait for the icon of the latter to disappear from the desktop and from the side bar of the file manager.