There is hot debate over the necessity of ejecting USB devices before removing them. Which side are you on?


Popular Science decided to heat up the summer by stirring the pot. They published an article titled Do you really need to properly eject a USB drive before yanking it out?

This led to fierce debates in multiple comment venues from both sides of the issue as to whether or not the practice of removing the device without choosing to eject it is safe, or one hairsbreadth away from disaster.

The Pro Side:

The side that supports removing the USB without choosing to eject the device through the computer’s dialogue box maintains the argument that the chance of corrupting the data on the USB is very minimal.

The article addresses this directly, stating:


So should you bother to hit eject? “Generally, it’s not going to make much of a difference,” says Jim Waldo, the chief technology officer at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“The catastrophic form of failure,” he says, “would be that if you picked just exactly the right time when it was in the middle of a write, so it had written some bits and not others, you could corrupt your USB drive—but your chance of doing that is so slight, that I have never had it happen, [and] never heard of it happening.”


In other words: corrupting that drive is very, very unlikely.


The Con Side:

The side that supports always choosing to eject the USB prior to removing it from the device doesn’t care so much with the throw caution to the wind attitude of the Pro Side. John Gruber of DaringFireball stated:


“This is terrible advice. It’s akin to saying you probably don’t need to wear a seat belt because it’s unlikely anything bad will happen. Imagine a few dozen people saying they drive without a seat belt every day and nothing’s ever gone wrong, so it must be OK. (The breakdown of this analogy is that with seat belts, you know instantly when you need to be wearing one. With USB drives, you might not discover for months or years that you’ve got a corrupt file that was only partially written to disk when you yanked the drive.)”


The Devil’s Advocate:

Both sides make valid points. If you’re concerned about anything you have saved to your USB device, it would be in your best interest to go to the dialogue box and choose to eject the USB from the device. That way the device itself can tell you if it’s accessing anything on the USB and if it’s safe to remove it without potentially corrupting data – especially because you know those few seconds it takes to eject the USB will save you the time you’d have to take repairing the USB file structure should it become corrupted.

If you don’t care about the data, or you just can’t be bothered because the chance of data actually becoming corrupted is something akin to the chance you have of winning the lotto, then removing the USB drive without ejecting it is the way to go. If you prefer to throw caution to the wind, it may be advisable to purchase a USB device with a use indicator on it that flashes a light when it’s being accessed. Just for peace of mind.


Which side of the debate are you on? Do you throw caution to the wind, or carefully eject your USB devices?

As always, if we can be of help with your network or computer, give us a call here at RHYNO Networks. (855) 749-6648


Popular Science’s article