Data Backup · How-To · Win 10 · Win 7 · Win 8

Flash Drives – How to Remove Correctly

They are everywhere, storage size  is increasing and prices are dropping. We use them for backing up our most critical files, yet most people do not handle them correctly. Of course we should keep them dry, away from temperature extremes and magnets – but there is one common source of corruption that is often overlooked.

Unfortunately, saving our data to them as a backup  and then removing them without ‘shutting them down’ or ‘Ejecting’ them from our computer will damage them. Before removing the flash drive, you must eject it – computers tend to write to drives in the background – if you pull out the drive while this is happening it will corrupt your data.

There would be nothing worse than copying your critical files to a flash drive as a backup, and putting it away – only to find out when your computer dies and you need the files that they are corrupted – you’ve now lost all of your data that you thought you were keeping safe.

The process is simple:Flash Drive (20)

Click on any folder to open Windows File Explorer.

Navigate to ‘This PC’ (or ‘My Computer’)Flash Drive (21)

Inserting the drive it will show up under ‘This PC’ or ‘My Computer’Flash Drive (22)

You can now Drag and Drop your files to the drive in order to create a removable backup.

When you’re done, the there are two common ways to safely shutdown the drive before you remove it in order to prevent damage to the drive and data corruption.

  1. Click on any folder and navigate on the left to ‘This PC’ (or ‘My Computer’) and locate the Flash Drive. Right Click on it to bring up the menu.Flash Drive (25)

    • Select and click ‘Eject’. The Drive will shut down (if it has one, the light on the flash drive will flicker and go out), and you’ll get a message in the lower right hand corner similar to this:
    • Flash Drive (26)
    • (If you don’t see this or a similar message, see the bottom of this post for troubleshooting)
    • You may now pull out the Flash Drive, knowing that your data is safe, and store it in a safe, cool dry location.
  2. The Second common method is to look down on the lower right in the icons there, and you will see a small icon similar to this if you have a removable device inserted.Flash Drive (27)

    • Click on it. A list should pop up with all of the removable media attached.Flash Drive (28
    • There is our flash drive. Click on it to Eject it safely. You will get a similar message to this:Flash Drive (26)
    • You may now pull out the Flash Drive, knowing that your data is safe, and store it in a safe, cool dry location.

In Case of problems

There will be times when you are unable to eject a USB drive, in such cases you will  receive an error message that the drive is in use and can not be removed

This is caused by some program that is using one or more of the files on the USB drive

There are several solutions to this problem

  • If you have any open files, such as a word document that resides on the USB drive, save the document and close the application (ie Word), then try again to “Eject” the drive.
  • Close any Windows that are open, any open windows that have listings of drives, such as “Windows Explorer” can prevent a drive from ejecting when it is displayed on a list of drives.
  • Programs that run in the background can prevent USB drives from ejecting. These include Anti-Virus programs, Derangement programs, Download programs, etc.
  • In the event that a drive can not be ejected even after closing all open windows, do the following.

a) Leave the USB drive plugged in.
b) Shut down the computer (which will stop all background processes).
c) Wait until the computer powers down completely.
d) Remove the Flash Drive.
e) Turn your computer back on.

The best method for data backup is, of course
using one of the ‘Cloud’ services such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive
– but we also need to keep local copies of our data –
So use this process and your Flash Drives will live long and prosper!


Contact us anytime for assistance.  ©2015

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