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The reason for that click, is to ensure that any cached data gets flushed to the device before you unplug it. In 99.999% of cases it will not matter, but the day you have some critical item on your system to be saved ...
Depends on the disk. Not pressing that button first means that Windows doesn't know that it shouldn't use the disk, so it could be reading or writing data (particularly if you have an indexing service set up over the drive or something like that). However, it's generally pretty good about not using write-back caching and things like that on external devices. As long as the disk completes the current operation when you pull the plug, and doesn't corrupt it, you should be fine if you aren't mid way through writing a file.
I pull USB sticks out without pressing that icon all the time and I've never had a problem.
However, for a backup that you might really care about if it was broken, you probably should, just in case.
New versions of Windows (don't recall when the change was made) default to disabling write caches for USB drives. This hurts performance; but means that windows won't say a write is done until it's send the last bit over the wires to the drive. The drive itself could still have unwritten data in it's internal caches and be lying about the fact (if there is such data it's almost certainly lying and denying it to buff benchmark scores) but windows can't do anything about that.
IF you want faster performance you can enable write caching on the drive; in that case the safe eject feature is required (to flush the cache).
Did you ever see history portrayed as an old man with a wise brow and pulseless heart, waging all things in the balance of reason?
Is not rather the genius of history like an eternal, imploring maiden, full of fire, with a burning heart and flaming soul, humanly warm and humanly beautiful?
Training a telescope on one’s own belly button will only reveal lint. You like that? You go right on staring at it. I prefer looking at galaxies.
-- Sarah Hoyt
Or, (Please God No!) Is she right and I am risking data integrity?
Two caches here: on-disk cache, and windows write cache. Neither is necessarily flushed when you hot-unplug the disk.
And even if NTFS is maintianing integrity, this does not guarantee integrity of applicaiton level data.
You are "mostly lucky", because while both are lazy, they don't signficantly delay normally.
You can disable these options in the drive's properties, in which case the "safely eject" won't be necessary - and isn#t available anymore:
- Explorer, Drive, properties, "Hadrware" Tab, select your drive again (!) and click "Settings"
- Select "Change Settings" (with elevation icon) of W7 / W8
- Select Policy (? not sure about the english translation)
- Disable "Write cache on device" and select "Fast removal".
As someone said, this is on newer versions the default for removable media. But since the "eject safely" option is available, I'd asusme it's nto set for the drive in question.
It's just a way to tell you that any pending writes to the disk have completed. I suppose for a backup, you should check it - but if the backup happened overnight and it's now mid-morning it's gonna be OK.
Then again, if it's a raid array you can hot-swap anytime - even during a write
Most of the time, Windows correctly identifies removable devices and therefore disables delayed write caching (and perhaps indexing?) which is what is most likely to corrupt removable data. In these cases, I see almost no way you can corrupt it by just pulling it out. So to speak. Unless you're actively using the disk, like copying crap to it or have open documents on it, but then you're just a dumbass.
However, I have seen a (very) few instances where a USB flash drive was - inexplicably - identified as an internal hard drive and therefore had delayed writes enabled. (It can be disabled in the drive preferences.) One thing I found interesting is when I got an eSATA dock for a 1TB drive I had lying around - Windows treats it just like an internal drive, which makes sense, it being just another SATA drive to the system, yet it still claims to be "hot swappable" ... I haven't investigated it, as I have actually not used the drive for anything yet. (To think I'd one day have a 1TB drive just lying around, and then not know what to do with it, is pretty amazing when I think back to my $500 200MB hard drive.)
Look at me still talking when there's science to do
When I look out there it makes me glad I'm not you