Windows 10 is about to change the 'safely remove USB drive' default option

midian182

Posts: 7,289   +65
Staff member

We’ve long been warned that failing to use the ‘Safely Remove Hardware’ process before pulling out a USB device such as a flash drive (pendrive), thumb drive, and Thunderbolt-enabled external drive could cause data loss, corruption, or even mechanical damage. But Microsoft has announced that this won’t be the case starting with Windows version 1809.

The default policy for current versions of Windows is to use the ‘Better Performance’ option, where Windows can cache write operations to the external device, increasing the speed of data transfers. Using the Safely Remove Hardware icon makes sure all cached operations finish, thereby protecting your data when removing a drive.

In the Windows 10 update, the default option changes to ‘Quick Removal,’ which, as the name suggests, lets you yank a USB storage device out safely at any time. This is possible as Windows does not cache disk write operations, but that means performance could take a hit.

Users who prefer to prioritize performance and want to stick with the long-used policy can switch back to the current option, though this must be done for every USB device. You can read the full instructions on how to do so here.

Image credit: MrIncredible via Shutterstock

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MarkHughes

Posts: 282   +247
I have never used that and also never had a problem. I kinda forgot it was there tbh. I always figured it was more for usb spinning hard drives than anything else. *shrug*
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,029   +6,392
I don't know what special cases Microsoft is considering to implement this feature, but for at least 99% cases people only use USB flash drives for external file storage, in which case copying from USB drive cannot corrupt it, and copying onto the USB drive can only corrupt it when you do not let it finish, which isn't unreasonable.

Same as the first poster, I've never bothered with the Safe Removal before, and never got any flash drive corrupted either, and I've used them a lot.
 

ET3D

Posts: 1,763   +408
Considering that 1809 is the Windows version that's been available since October (/ November / December / January / February, well, anyway, at different times in the past for different people, but still, some months ago), when exactly did this change come about?
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 593   +469
and copying onto the USB drive can only corrupt it when you do not let it finish, which isn't unreasonable.

The problem is that you never truly know when it is finished which then requires you select "safely disconnect" before removing drive which also tends to "fail" to safely disconnect on "some" systems, therefore preventing safe removal until shutdown or reboot

I like to know when a file transfer is done and I like to know if something else (besides ME) is trying to write to the thumb drive when all I am doing is "reading" from the drive

There has never been a valid reason for write caching and never will be

Corrupt data and drives negate any and all reasons for using write caching in the first place
 
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DelJo63

Per file copies to the external USB would not be an issue.

Have you ever considered
  • drag /Documents
?? Massive amounts of data go in-transit and If you already have content on the USB, better consider using the Safe Removal !!
 

arrowflash

Posts: 486   +532
Microsoft catering to the lowest common denominator for people who shouldn't be allowed near computers in the first place, like always. I've always used the "safely remove" option since the Windows 2000 days, to the point it became second nature for me, so I never had problems with corrupt data... and it is necessary, there were times when the drive wasn't ready for removal yet. If the tradeoff is worse performance, it's a change I don't approve of.
Also keep in mind that when using external USB hard drives, they spin down and are powered off when we use the "safely remove" option. So I'd say it's a good idea to keep using it regardless of disk caching, to make sure the heads are properly parked.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,976   +2,306
TechSpot Elite
Write Caching.

Computer: I'm super fast and your 8000 files are, like, already totally on that crappy slow USB drive.
You: OK thx. <yanks drive from port>

3 files are actually on the crap drive

You: Goddam computer!

________________________


Quick Removal.

Computer: I'll be done with these 8000 files in 95 minutes 'cuz you have a crappy slow USB drive.
You: Goddamit. Maybe I'll pay $48 for an actually good 128GB USB3.1 flash drive next time.

Sandisk wins.

________________________

Moral of story: Sandisk probably paid MS to enable this feature to drive sales. Follow the $$$.
 

Bas Keur

Posts: 46   +28
Wait, what? I haven't had an issue with this in many years (always yanking it before an eject because it no longer was "unsafe"). And I know I haven't touched that setting...

I run Windows 10 on 2 nvme's in raid0 for about 2 years straight. WHY?WHY?! ... BECAUSE WE CAN (and have backups) Cool people yank USB sticks and stripe trough life. #internetpointsaswell
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,464   +6,149
Wait, what? I haven't had an issue with this in many years (always yanking it before an eject because it no longer was "unsafe"). And I know I haven't touched that setting...

It isn't an issue for most people. More or less the issue stems from windows showing a file copy operation complete when in fact it is not. Depending on the size of the file it way take a second more. Unless you are pulling the drive out right away, this isn't an issue.
 

doomworm

Posts: 28   +34
I too am guilty of premature thumb drive removal since before I can remember. I've never had an issue with corrupt files or lost data because of it. The data transfer always seemed to be done before Windows showed it was anyway, going by the flashing light on the drives.
I have never used that and also never had a problem. I kinda forgot it was there tbh. I always figured it was more for usb spinning hard drives than anything else. *shrug*
 
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DelJo63

There has never been a valid reason for write caching and never will be
Then you have never worked with shared resources on a network, where you are performing one set of tasks while other user(s) are performing their work. You can't honor all requests at the same instant and write cashing becomes important.
 

Markoni35

Posts: 1,318   +534
Linux has issues with USB sticks, not Windows. If you pull the stick out in Linux, even minutes after last copying, there's like 80% chance the files will be corrupt. On Windows this would happen very very rarely. So... now Windows will be even safer.

But not Linux, which has crap policy for removable drives. Plus, the File-Copy progress bar on Linux doesn't display the real copy progress. It shows cached progress, meaning, it quickly comes to 95% and then waits there for ages until the copy command ends. Which is totally useless. Fix Linux please. Make it more user friendly.